Jesus tells us, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” Knowing those who reject Christ as their Lord and Savior are doomed to hell, Booth took the Great Commission of saving souls very seriously. Coming from poverty himself, Booth realized it would be easier to share the love of Christ with others by first demonstrating it.
“I have no intention to depart in the smallest degree from the main principles on which I have acted in the past. My only hope for the permanent deliverance of mankind from misery, either in this world or the next, is the regeneration or remaking of the individual by the power of the Holy Ghost through Jesus Christ. But in providing for the relief of temporal misery I reckon that I am only making it easy where it is now difficult, and possible where it is now all but impossible, for men and women to find their way to the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Therefore, he organized kitchens for the hungry, shelters for the homeless, safe quarters for abused women, job training for young men, especially for those planning on emigrating overseas, employment services for the unemployed and former prisoners, help for alcoholics, and clothing and other assistance programs for the poor and needy. Booth honestly understood the needs of people, but also recognized that Christ charged the individual, not the government, to provide such help. He also knew by doing so, he could accomplish his main and most important goal, saving souls. As he wrote, "The Social is the bait, but it is Salvation that is the hook that lands the fish."
While their war was for souls, the Salvationists experienced numerous battles with the government and opposers to their cause. During the 1880’s, volunteers often encountered fines and imprisonment for their work. An organized group, called the “Skeleton Army,” formed with the specific purpose to disrupt meetings and causing chaos, much like Antifa today. (see ) Fortunately, the harassment primarily ended by 1890 as the organization’s mission and work spread across the globe. The Salvation Army had operations in the United States by 1880, Australia in 1881, and then throughout Europe.
October of 1890 brought heartache and joy for Booth. On October 4, his wife and partner lost her battle with cancer. Yet later that month, his manifesto on society, 'In Darkest England and the Way Out' was published which explained to the world his vision of addressing social needs as a means to spreading the Gospel.
Booth continued to travel the world, mustering soldiers in his Salvation Army until as the "War Cry" described it, "the old warrior finally laid down his sword" on August 20, 1912. At this time, his son Bramwell Booth assumed command of the army. He also bid farewell to the General in his eulogy on August 29th at Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington, which was attended by Queen Alexandra, representatives of King George V and Queen Mary, as well as other major religious and national leaders. Known as "The Prophet of the Poor," Booth's legacy enlisted seven of his eight children within the organization in addition to over 25,000 soldiers and cadets stationed 91 countries.
Liberty, today's churches are very welcoming, which they should be. Many now happily open their arms to homosexuals, transsexuals, abortionists, and other sinners. Unfortunately, they have done so at the detriment of the Gospel. In their efforts to include and embrace sinners, they have abandoned the Word of God, telling these lost souls they really aren’t sinning. Instead of gently and lovingly guiding them to repentance for their sins, these churches inform them that God loves them for who they are and accepts them as they are. If this were true, why did Jesus die on the cross? Did Christ really suffer death and hell in our stead for our sins so we can happily celebrate and continue in those sins with God’s blessings?
Jesus was very clear that if the Holy Spirit truly dwells in us, then we should strive to be like Him. The saint within us should always be resisting the sinner within us, rejecting and fleeing from temptation and sin. Will we fall from time to time? Without a doubt. However, genuine repentance and continuing to strive to lead the life God planned for us receives His forgiveness and blessing. It is that salvation story we need to share, not because it wins us favor in God's eyes, but because of the gratitude we have for Christ and His selfless sacrifice for us.
Booth was wise to avoid politics and other worldly affairs, writing in The War Cry in 1884, “Let the business of the world take care of itself ... My business is to get the world saved.” Liberty, that's excellent advice. During our celebrations of America’s independence from England on July 4th, we also celebrate those that fought for and won that independence. Yet, Liberty, we are soldiers in a much greater army, and we’re fighting to tell the world of their liberation from sin through salvation in Jesus Christ. Put on your armor of God and pick up your sword. There's a battle for souls out there and God needs you as a soldier!
That’s my 2 cents.
July 2, 2019
William reviewed the proof of his organization’s annual report when a phrase caught his attention. He paused when reading, “The Christian Mission is a volunteer army.” After a moment of thought, he crossed out “volunteer army,” replacing it with “Salvation Army.” It was a change that would soon send a battle cry throughout the world.
William Booth was born April 10, 1829, in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England, to a non-religious and poor couple. In describing his father, Booth noted, "My father was a Grab, a Get. He had been born into poverty. He determined to grow rich; and he did. He grew very rich, because he lived without God and simply worked for money; and when he lost it all, his heart broke with it, and he died miserably."
Months before his father’s death, 14-year-old Booth was sent to the poorest part of Nottingham to apprentice as a pawnbroker. He hated his job, yet he needed it to help support his siblings and mother, who found herself working in a very poor area as well. Yet God used Booth's experience with poor and distraught customers as a foundation for what He needed Booth to do.
While attending Broad Street Wesley Chapel at age 15, Booth proclaimed, “this great change passed over me.” Two years later, he joined other evangelists in the streets, preaching the Word of God directly to the people as George Whitfield did 100 years earlier. (see ) Leaving his pawnbroker position, Booth evangelized for a year without a job. Eventually needing work, he moved to London, where he met his future wife, Catherine Mumford, at his new church, and returned temporarily to pawnbroking.
Booth began a formal ministry in the Methodist New Connection in England in 1852, preaching from a pulpit instead of a town square. After marrying on July 16, 1855, the Booth’s were appointed to minister to the Halifax and Gateshead circuits. However, Booth soon realized his traditional church was failing in its command to save lost souls, preferring those deemed already acceptable for the church pews while forgetting those who needed the healing grace of Christ’s saving blood the most. Therefore, Booth left the organized church to evangelize as an independent. Following John Wesley's Methodist teachings, both sought those the traditional church turned its back on, those he often experienced in his pawnshops. His new church was the streets and his parishioners were the poor, hungry, lost, homeless, depraved, and distressed.
Realizing the overwhelming need these citizens had for God, Booth and his wife began their own mission to train evangelists throughout England. Formed on July 2, 1865, “The Christian Mission” set up tents and held services in the outdoors. Within a decade, the organization grew to have over 1,000 volunteers and evangelists, sharing the salvation of Jesus Christ with prostitutes, drunkards, gamblers, and thieves. Like Mary Magdalenes of the time, these converts served as living testimonies, spreading the Good News of God’s love to others and becoming volunteers themselves within the organization.
ARMY OF GOD
Following Booth’s change in the annual report in 1878, the organization became known as “The Salvation Army,” summarizing its purpose as "We are a salvation people - this is our speciality - getting saved and keeping saved, and then getting somebody else saved.” As with hymns like “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” Booth understood the battle Christians were in for people's souls. Therefore, he adopted the British military code when composing the “Orders and Regulations” for his organization, which had its own flag, uniforms, and songs. Volunteers were labeled officers and known as “Salvationists,” with Booth obtaining the title “General.” The following year the organization began its own paper entitled, TheWar Cry.