In between the Black and White is Grace

I wanted you to get an idea of what their daily life is like. It seems so many (including most people in the Salvation Army) have no idea what the men do. Some seem to think they’re sitting around waiting for people to call for a truck to come pick up items they want to donate and others think they spend the day in classes. They have a full schedule and it’s very important their time is filled with constructive things as they are trying to find the path to recovery.

From the staff aspect, one thing that happens daily is checking the dispo. Each day a “Dispo” (disposition of forces) is printed. It is a complete listing of beneficiaries and employees. It lists admissions and terminations. Terminations is where my eyes go.

Then I look next to the name to see the reason for termination. Termination isn’t always as bad as it sounds. It merely lists the names of who have left even those leaving as graduates with a job and recovery plan. That is indicated with a LWN next to their name. It means Left With Notice.

The initials I don’t like to see are AWOL (we all know that one) and ATL: Asked To Leave. That’s never good.

Each week in staff meeting the names of those admitted during the week and those who left are reviewed. We hear the stories of the new men coming in and why they’ve chosen to come in out of the storm. We hear what they told intake. Time will tell the real story.

When names are brought up of men marked AWOL or ATL questions are asked why? What were the circumstances, if known. Did they have housing, any place to go? What should be the conditions of readmission.

Sometimes things seem black and white. They aren’t. Some people want to make them black and white. They usually can’t. I’ve come to learn that in between the black and white is grace.

More times than not, we’ve reversed our decision to re-admit someone because maybe this will be the time. Maybe they’ve hit bottom this time. Maybe they’re ready for change for recovery for new life.

It brings me to another line from one of our songs:

“Except I am moved with compassion

How dwelleth Thy Spirit in me?”

Moved by compassion, yes, I want that spirit in me.


  • I pray every day that those who have left the ARC find it within themselves to choose LIFE. Grace is a lovely place to be.

    • Isn’t it though. That’s why I’m living in graceland 🙂