A local church regularly attracted more than a thousand people to its Sunday service. Among them was a man who, while otherwise excited and engaged in all kinds of activities of the church, would fall asleep minutes after the pastor began his sermon.
Having witnessed this numerous times, the pastor finally had it. After the man had dozed off again minutes into his sermon, the pastor said to the people, ‘All of you who want to go to heaven, stand up.’ All but the man stood up.
Once churchgoers had taken their seats again, the pastor yelled, ‘And all of you who want to go the other way, stand up.’ Startled by the pastor’s loud voice, the man jumped up immediately. He was again the only one.
After this story, Butler told very awake Rotarians about the local Salvation Army, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this month.
“In 1912, the Salvation Army came to Griffin, Georgia. I’m thankful for the work and the mission of the Salvation Army in Griffin. I’m thankful for the people who believe in us and support us,” Butler said.
In return, the Salvation Army has supported members of the community as well, Butler said.
At its Community Center on Meriwether Street, it offers social services and tutors local students through its after-school program, with 32 of the 39 students attending at the end of the last school year making A/B honor roll at their schools.
Then there is the Salvation Army’s food pantry, which was completely empty just several weeks ago — until donations allowed it to be filled again.
“This community rallied around the Salvation Army, and our food pantry is full today because of people like you and the good citizens of this community,” Butler said.
Butler also praised the approximately $200,000 his organization has contributed — in one way or another — to the victims of last year’s tornado that ripped through Spalding County. He likewise pointed out the help homeless people have received at the Salvation Army’s House of Hope.
In light of the upcoming Christmas season, Butler concluded with an appeal to fellow Rotary members to join the traditional bell ringing, which will raise money for needy families in the community for the holidays.
“If I knew that my grandchildren woke up on Christmas Day and didn’t have any toys under the tree or food on the table, my heart would absolutely be broken,” he said.