Picture this, the sun has yet to make it’s appearance as you walk toward your trusty wooden boat, it’s painted sides peeling from years of use. You set your tackle box on the floor of the boat, position your fishing poles just right so they don’t get tangled and with both hands on the oars gently paddle out into the mist filled morning. As you glide through the mirror like waters, you count the silver ripples that billow across the top of the water with each strike of the oar, you breathe in the fresh air and admire the hint of gold that is making it’s way up out of the horizon. You stop and anchor in the perfect spot, collect your rod and reel, and after securing the bait, cast and listen for the sound of the hook making contact with the water. Minutes or hours can pass but all the while, you savor the solitude, the sounds, the breeze that peacefully rocks the boat and the beauty of rocky shorelines, stately pine trees and the occasional wildlife who make their way to the water’s edge for a refreshing drink. Suddenly, you feel the pull and your rod bends with the weight that is on the other end. With practiced movements, you begin to reel it in, carefully, methodically and then, soon, a large bright, silver fish appears out of the depths of the lake and into your boat. The entire day produces several fish which ends up being enough to feed your family that night along with the fresh vegetables you planted in the garden. You smile at the joy of learning, practicing and achieving a skill, that in essence is providing a much needed meal for your family.
Now, which is more exciting and beneficial, to sit in the boat after careful preparation and catch your own fish or for someone to hand you a couple of fish and say “there you go, enjoy.” What is more rewarding, what enables you to achieve more, which one can you pass down to your children and teach?”
At The Salvation Army, within our Life Skills Learning program,we want to provide the resources (tackle box), tools (fishing pole), patience, love and hope (Jesus) to those who seek us out wanting to make a change in their lives. If someone is hungry we will feed them and immediately fill the need but then we quickly show them how they too can meet that need through commitment, patience, planning and practice. We provide opportunities for them to learn skills that will free them from dependence to independence and will enable them to reach new heights on their own which becomes their own personal ministry and testimony for others to observe and learn from.
Many broken and lost souls find their way to our doors, many have failed to hold down a job, put food on the table or a roof over the heads of their families. But once they enter our programs and follow through with what is offered, they exit our doors with heads held high and with fishing pole in hand, head out into the world just as the sun is rising, casting what they have learned, patiently awaiting the expected results.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” ~Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie