Salvation Army officer writes from lockdown in Italy


By Ryan (Bear) Bearchell, Lt.–

We embarked on a journey of international service last summer full of anxiety, hope and faith—a family of five picking up from a wonderful appointment in Southern California to Torino, an unknown city in Northern Italy. 

At this very moment, I am writing “stuck” in my apartment with my family. Because of the coronavirus we have now been indoors for two weeks…with many more weeks to come.

Ever since we became officers, Jennifer and I have desired to be open to follow God wherever he would lead us, regardless of our personal desires for comfort. So we left a large five-bedroom house and two vehicles and moved into a tiny two-bedroom apartment in the middle of a city without a car.   

Instead of driving to the corps every day, we walk downstairs. Our ministry here has truly focused on relationships. The corps does not have programs every day—in fact most weeks we do not have more than a few. Instead, our time is largely spent visiting people in their homes, meeting for coffee (which lasts at least two hours) and growing relationships. It has been an adjustment to focus less on the busyness and more on growing deeper with people.

Italy is a wonderful country and we love where we are. We encounter struggles: simple communication can be hard, walking every day can get old…and now we’re on a country-wide lockdown. But we wouldn’t change any of it. We have seen God do so much for us in this short time already. Our family has grown closer, and our dependence on God has grown so much more.

With the mandatory closure, I’m using this time to clean the chapel and do repairs where I can. Our church body has a text group and we are always texting with them and sending Scripture verses of encouragement. We make sure to call those we can and send Facebook or email messages to some as well. Most people we talk to are fine, they are just very worried. We’re reminding everyone to remain patient and to use the time to rest. We’ve asked our corps people to work on future ministry ideas while they’re at home. 

One of the things I love most about The Salvation Army is that each appointment is so unique.  Being the hands and feet of God—even in this particularly unique time—is an honor and I am glad we have been given the opportunity to be here doing his will.

A Dio sia la gloria per sempre!



  • If you’d like to make a monetary donation, please click here to make a gift.
  • Text ‘GIVE’ to 52000 to make a $10 donation to The Salvation Army. This will automatically add a one-time donation to your next mobile phone bill.
  • For information about volunteering, please visit
  • To learn more about how to support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts, please click here.


  1. Serene

    March 14, 2020 at 6:48 pm

    So happy and relieved to hear this update. Missing the Bearchells from Whittier, California!

  2. Christine Martin

    March 16, 2020 at 11:14 am

    Great letter. Sounds like you’ve worked out a plan. Imagine the conversations with any more people and ministry opportunities when this is all done. Bless your beautiful family. Take care. Major Christine Martin. Corps Officer Newcastle NSW Australia. p.s. early stages here in Australia, precautionary measures in place but guessing lockdown will come. All eyes have been on Italy.

  3. Anthony Cole

    March 16, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    My son and his wife are officers in Germany, their ministry is so much like yours

  4. Sophia Gibb

    March 16, 2020 at 7:00 pm

    Praying for you and your family.

  5. Brian SMITH

    March 16, 2020 at 11:46 pm

    What a blessing LT BEAR, Your family is strong and lead by GOD. His Calling on Your LIFE IS SOMETHING I YEARN FOR LT. Keep up the good work and let the lord lead you and your peeps LoL. STAY SAFE LOVE YA AND KEEP ME IN PRAYER.

  6. Julie Herron

    March 17, 2020 at 11:33 am

    Ryan & family,

    We knew you Ryan when you were 2-4 years old in Monterey. We were serving in the military at Fort Ord where my husband Murry was a US Army chaplain representing TSA. And now we are retired & you are all grown up, an officer yourself, married & serving in Italy! You have a beautiful family & we pray for your protection! May God be extra close to all of you at this unbelievable time!

    Major Julie Herron

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.