New lieutenants join Tiffin Salvation Army

PHOTO BY JACOB GURNEY Jamie and Michael Blanchette are new lieutenants at The Salvation Army of Tiffin.

The Salvation Army has two new lieutenants that are working to help the community.

Michael and Jamie Blanchette started working at the Tiffin center June 28 and said they are happy to be a part of the community.

“God has sent us to Tiffin, and we believe strongly that he has us here for a reason and we are very happy to be here. … We feel blessed to live in such a nice area,” Jamie said.

“I like fulfilling the great commission to go around the world and preach the gospel. I’m trying to do that and reach out to anybody here,” Michael said.

“I’m here because I believe God has called me to be here. I’m here to love and support this church and this community. I don’t believe that it’s me just helping this church or this community, but I believe this community and this church helps me as well to grow into a more loving and kind woman of God,” Jamie said. “… It’s all about building relationships and being authentic with people and being kind with them and showing them the love of Jesus.”

Michael was born in California, but raised in Massachusetts, because his father was a U.S. Marine. Jamie said she is from Maine, but has lived in several states as well. Michael and Jamie met each other while attending the College for Officership Training in The Salvation Army.

Michael said the college, in Suffer, New York, doesn’t accept just anybody and is like a “religious boot camp.”

Jamie said the program is a fully accredited, extensive two-year training that allows people to become pastors in The Salvation Army. Michael said in addition to all the theological and book work, they also helped others in the evening so they were doing school work and pastoral work at the same time.

Michael said The Salvation Army is quasi-military, and working for it is like being a missionary because a person can be sent anywhere.

“We graduated and didn’t know where we were going until the day of graduation and they said, ‘Congratulations, you’re ordained, you’re graduated, here’s your degree, now you’re moving to Tiffin, Ohio.’ So that’s what landed us here, is orders, basically,” he said.

Jamie attributed their move to a higher power, as well.

“Beyond just following orders though, we believe God’s hand is on the decision of where we’re being sent, so even though our higher-up bosses are appointing us to different places, we believe that God has a mission specifically for us and that his hand is upon wherever we get sent. It’s not just by accident, and it’s not by a man’s decision, but it’s God decision and he works through every circumstance,” she said.

Michael said the average stay for Salvation Army officers is between three to five years, but some stay in one place for up to 11 years.

The couple said they have a mutual love and live their lives by The Salvation Army quote, “Heart to God and hand to man.”

“That’s our goal here in Tiffin,” Michael said. “We love God, and he loves us, and he’s using us to show his love to others financially, spiritually or with clothes or food or whatever needs are in the community we’re here as some ministers of God.”

Jamie said they are the assistants of The Salvation Army in Tiffin and there are a lot of programs that they have in Tiffin, including a feeding program serving hot meals Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, a clothing bank for people to get clothes two times a month and a pantry where people can get a bag of groceries once a month, she said.

Jamie said there also are night programs involving children and teens, a separate club Wednesday nights where they feed children first and then also have Sunbeams and Adventure Corps — girls and boys groups similar to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts — where children can earn badges and learn about God. Children do arts and crafts and love working hard to earn a badge, she said.

There is a teen group Thursday nights that does a Bible study and then will play games or have a movie night at the center. Additionally, there’s an adult Bible study that goes on during that same time Thursday nights, Jamie said.

“There’s a lot of programs,” she said.

The couple enjoys being able to work with CROSSWAEH as well.

“One of the favorite things we like to do is we have CROSSWAEH come in weekly and we have groups of men and women that volunteer and help us to clean and help us to keep the property organized,” Jamie said. “They are very hard workers and we really enjoy working with them and ministering to them and sharing our love for the Lord with them as well as hearing their testimonies.”

Michael said as lieutenants, he and Jamie serve as assistant pastors and Jamie said part of that role includes assisting in the programs The Salvation Army does. They help with cooking and the food pantry, do stats and office work, assist with property maintenance and cleaning, get ready for the evening programs, prep for sermons and Sunday School and speak about the Lord when the Lord leads them to do so, Jamie said.

“There’s always something to do. …We wear many hats,” Jamie said. “We are the pastor, but we are also the janitor, we’re also the bookkeeper, we’re also the cook. So there are many hats to our job every single day and every day can look different.”

“Every day is a new day and different challenges come up every single day and we need to be ready to respond quickly,” she added.

Jamie said they have a lot of responsibilities.

“A lot of them are fun, but some of them can be challenging,” Jamie said. “But we know we can get through it every single day by leaning on the Lord’s love and guidance.”

Michael said a lot of people don’t realize The Salvation Army is primarily a church and not just a social service organization.

“A lot of people don’t realize that The Salvation Army isn’t a social service organization; it’s a church, that because of their love of God, does the social service,” Michael said. “It’s a church first, not the social service first. The social service is an outpouring of the love we have because of God’s call to love people.”

A goal for Tiffin’s organization is to be more involved with Heidelberg and Tiffin universities, Jamie said.

“That’s a vision of ours and our commander in Washington, D.C.,” Jamie said. “Down the road at some point, we would love to have a Bible study and see this place grow more with volunteers from the colleges.”

“We’ve been specially appointed to get involved with the two colleges in town,” Michael said. “We’re going to start being a presence at the schools and just being available pastors. … We’re here to pray with students if they want or talk about Christianity or be of some sort of help.”

Jamie said she wants students to know of the opportunities available at The Salvation Army and she hopes more will become involved.

“We can always use volunteers here at The Salvation Army and we encourage the help,” she said. “All college students like the opportunity to put great things on their resumes and we also want to plant the seeds and show them God’s love as well as build that relationship with them because being in the community is very important to us and The Salvation Army. We want to be extending our hand to man, just like our quote, and it’s very important for us to be involved in the community.”

Jamie said the couple’s primary goal is to follow God and love others.

“As far as our goals here, it’s to follow the Lord. It’s to listen to God speak to our hearts, it’s to love the people here at church. We have a lot of seniors that work here, we have a lot of great volunteers that come in here and help and our job is to love them, our job is to show grace to them every single day and to extend as much of grace that God has given us to them,” she said.

“Our job is basically to love people, that’s our No. 1 thing. It’s not to do paperwork or to clean, it’s to love. If we love well every single day, then we believe God will do the rest,” Jamie said.

Michael and Jamie want the community to know The Salvation Army welcomes everyone.

“We want to help anybody we can, but we also have a passion to help those that society might overlook. We want to reach out to everybody. We’re not interested in what kind of car you drive or how much money you have, we’re interested in how you are personally,” Michael said. “We want to meet people’s needs.”

“People should know that anyone and everyone is welcome at The Salvation Army here in Tiffin and across the world,” Jamie said. “The Salvation Army is open to love anyone and everyone and we want to show the grace that God has given us because life is all about loving and taking care of each other and Jesus calls us to love everyone. I just want people to know that we have a heart that cares and our doors are always open.”

The Salvation Army Worship and Community Center, 505 E. Market St., is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is Sunday school at 9:45 a.m. and worship service at 11 a.m. Sundays.