It was a dark time for the Kyle family of Rochester, Minn. First, Lance experienced kidney failure and had to have dialysis several days a week. Because of that, he lost his job, and he and his wife, Karen, couldn't pay their bills. They were evicted from their apartment. To avoid homelessness, Karen and their four children moved into her mother's small house, and Lance moved in with friends.
Karen had drifted away from her childhood faith, but the crisis compelled her to cry out to God.
"Lord, please help us find a place to stay. We need to be together as a family again." Looking back, Karen says her desperate situation made her realize that she needed to rely on the Lord.
"I felt God was saying to me that I had this safety net and was afraid to step out in faith. I was doing things on my own."
Karen did step out; she made some calls. The Salvation Army called her back, offering transitional housing.
Her prayer had been answered.
The Kyle family moved into a four-bedroom, two-bath house on a quiet cul-de-sac. It is one of seven homes the Army owns in Rochester for situations like this.
"Our goal is always is to have permanent housing for two years to get [families] off the street and out of a crisis," says Major Paulette Frye of the local Salvation Army church, the Rochester Corps Community Center.
It wasn't long before life was back to normal for the Kyles. After they'd been there a few weeks, Karen came home to find Lance, Jr., and Jacquelyn raking the leaves. What a sweet thing to do, Karen thought. Her two younger children, Wesley and Anthony, popped out of the leaves to surprise her.
Soon after that, Major Paulette called.
"Hello, Karen. I wanted to invite your children to Salvation Army youth activities on Tuesday nights. We have girls and boys activities, along with music programs."
That was another answered prayer for Karen. She wanted her children to be involved in a church, and the major said she would personally pick the children up from school.
After the first week's activities, Paulette went into the house to meet Karen and Lance. Within a few weeks, she invited them to church services. Soon the whole family was attending.
"If [our transitional housing families] aren't 'churched,' we ask them to attend church services at the Army. That's really the goal of the Army-to share the Gospel of Jesus with others."
As the two years of transitional housing draws to a close, Paulette explains, families meet with a transitional supervisor, who helps them find a place of their own, works with them on the details of the move, and provides counsel about strategies for managing finances. The Army counselor continues to be available even after the move.
The Kyles lived in their transitional home for two years and have now had their own place for two years. They are still attending the Rochester Corps.
Lance Jr., 17, plays in the senior brass band. The other three children play in the junior band. The older ones are also involved in Corps Cadets, a program for youth. Last summer, Karen helped with Bible School, and every few months, she assists in Junior Church. Kyle Sr. attends whenever his health allows.
Karen explains the reason for her attraction to the Army. "They love people, and I know it's genuine. I love Major [James] and Mrs. Frye, too.
She adds, "Sometimes when you're in a dark time in your life, and there doesn't seem to be any hope, that's when God comes through."