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Captains Bayode and Noemi Agbaje: The Army and us

Captains Bayode and Noemi Agbaje are assistants to the administrators of program and business at the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Philadelphia, Pa. They share their collective thoughts regarding this vital ministry and on family relationships.

Some people might see substance abusers and be afraid to help them or work with them through their recovery or even bring them around loved ones. The truth is, people who suffer from these social and spiritual handicaps can be some of the sweetest, most kind-hearted people you will meet. Many of them are simply scared or nervous about their problem. They’re not as tough as they think they are or as you might think they are. Substance abuse creates a hard shell. But, when you break that barrier, they will love you and thank you for doing so. You will discover that, for years, they’ve been hurt and screaming for help, but afraid and ashamed of how they look to others.

You cannot underestimate the power of God after seeing a life turn around. Helping someone beat their substance abuse problem is rewarding. The moment of clarity becomes evident when that person decides that now is the time to get clean. It’s like a light switch that turns on inside them, or like the story of the Prodigal Son, who finally returns and is welcomed in his father’s home. Our God is a God of second chances. We must also be like Him.

The lessons we learn from relationships in Bible times still apply to our relationships today. One of the scriptural rocks in our marriage foundation is Ephesians 4:26, “In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down upon your wrath.” We try to never go to bed mad at each other. When the day is done, so is the anger and frustration. We made this commitment early in our marriage. When we look at how to handle our relationship, and then look at the Bible, we simply have to say, “Well, the Word of God wins here.”

Our four beautiful children take up a lot of our time when we’re not at the ARC. We have three boys and one girl. Whether we’re all riding bikes, playing in parks or having Nerf battles, there is always some competition between two or more of them. Watching them in our home is like having a seat at a little private sports league. During the day, they attend Christian school, and at night, we do devotionals and pray together. As we raise children like that, they will come to us with good, probing questions about God. The Book of Isaiah says that children will be taught by the Lord, and great shall be their peace (Isaiah 54:13).

Maintaining a functioning ARC during COVID–19 has been an overall effort by everyone involved. Of course, we followed all guidelines, limited admissions to the building, and made arrangements in every meeting room. Wherever people sat, they would be six feet away from others.  Before the initial lockdown, we had video orientations on health and hygiene. We were preparing for the worst even before we knew how bad it could get. Who would have thought the world would change like this? But God never changes. If we trust in Him, we will not fail. His word is consistent; He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Interview by Hugo Bravo

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