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Posts Tagged ‘missions’

And this love for souls grew even stronger as death came near. ‘Eva,’ she exclaimed to one of her daughters, as she lay racked with agonizing pain, ‘don’t you forget that man with the handcuffs on. Find him. Go to Lancaster Jail; let somebody go with you, and find that man. Tell him that your mother, when she was dying, prayed for him, and that she had a feeling in her heart that God would save him; and tell him, hard as the ten years of imprisonment may be, it will be easier with Christ than it would be without Him.’”

booth-catherine Catherine Booth was first and foremost a soul winner. Catherine was so grateful for her own salvation that she could think of nothing else that she would ever want to do than to tell others about the Savior.

The Mother of the Salvation Army was born on January 17, 1829 in Derbyshire, England. She was a shy child and very sickly. She lay on her back for most of a three- year period with a spinal problem. She found a way to read books and study. She also knitted and sewed. God would use all of these lessons later in her life as she cared for eight children.

Some doubted whether Catherine would ever walk again, but her strength gradually improved. Catherine never wasted time and she had little patience for lazy people. She never spent time reading silly novels; she concentrated on her Bible and good books written by scholarly theologians.

God would put all of her skills, knowledge, and good habits together so that she could fill the special purpose He had in mind for her. The shy, sickly girl would never have seen herself standing in front of a large group teaching about Christ. But eventually the Holy Spirit gave her the strength to put her own feelings aside and think about how lost the people who came to hear her were. Hell is real. Catherine wanted to prevent as many souls as possible from going there.

Her husband, William Booth started out as a traveling evangelist. In the early part of their marriage, up through the birth of four of their children, the Booths were very poor and seldom had a home of their own. Then one night as William was coming home from a meeting he passed the doors of a gin palace in East London. This was the part of London where unfortunate people lived – alcoholics, criminals, and prostitutes. William had been preaching in places like West London, where upper class people lived – people who could put enough money in the hat when it was passed to put at least some food on the table at the Booth household.

William thought he heard an urgent voice speaking to him, a voice that would ask a great sacrifice from him and Catherine. The voice asked, “Where can you go and find such heathen as these, and where is there so great a need for your labours?”

Catherine believed that they should answer this call, though she knew that they would never be able to ask the East-Enders for money as they had been able to before from their “respectable” audiences. This was huge step of faith and William and Catherine trusted the Lord to take care of them.

For Catherine it was all about the glory of God and the salvation of souls. And so the little Whitechapel mission would turn into the Christian Mission and eventually into what we know today as the Salvation Army.

Mobilizing this army of Christians would require a lot of work. The Booths believed that the army of Christ is made up of both men and women. While William started out doing most of the preaching, there came a time when Catherine followed her calling to stand up and talk in front of the gathering.

Catherine had been leading groups of girls in Bible study and other practical lessons. She had been asked many times to stand up and say a few words at the Sunday night service. She always refused. She did not want to look like a fool. One day, she realized that this was Satan’s ploy to keep her silent. As long as the focus was on herself and not others, she had an excuse to sit still. One day the Holy Spirit impressed on her Paul’s wisdom from the Bible, but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, (I Cor. 1:27).

At this point, Catherine was willing to be a fool for Christ. After her husband was through with his sermon, she rose from her seat and walked up the aisle to the front of the meetinghouse. Everyone was astonished to see this shy woman coming forward. William stepped down and said, “What is the matter, my dear?” He was so taken by surprise that all he could say was, “My dear wife wishes to speak!” He sat down and a trembling Catherine told her story of God’s love and faithfulness.

William had been encouraging Catherine to speak for years. After this occasion, Catherine spoke often at the meetings. She had already been speaking at temperance movement gatherings. She was always well prepared using only her Bible and a concordance.

William and Catherine would found the Salvation Army. It grew out of their combined efforts inbooth2 city mission work. Catherine worked tirelessly to rescue women out of prostitution. Most of the women were from poorer classes, but a surprising number had come from upper classes. Catherine responded to this need by opening a home where the “lady portion” of the prostitutes could be trained to fill a more useful occupation.

From the very beginning, women were welcome to work with the Salvation Army.
In spite of all of the humanitarian work that the Salvation Army was doing, they met with opposition from every sector of society. From thugs to high churchmen the Army was treated with scorn. The ridicule in the streets even turned to violence on occasion. In 1882, for example, more than six hundred assaults were reported. One third of those were women, one even died from her wounds.

Catherine Booth died of cancer in 1890 at the age of sixty-one. Her last years were devoted to teaching and to rescue work among young teenage prostitutes.

As time went on, the Salvation Army came over to the United States. The familiar bell ringers are part of Christmas all across the country. They have been featured in many heartwarming movies and the work done by the Salvation Army among the poorest people in our country is tremendous. Untold thousands have benefitted from this devoted Christian organization.

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Unfortunately in our day, the Army has become the objects of derision again. Many stores wishing to bow to political correctness have asked the cheerful bell ringers to stay away from their doors. I was happy to see last year that many people boycotted some of those stores. Now, the local Wal-mart near us has asked the bell ringers to return after banning them a couple of years ago. I know that their motive is only profit, but I am happy to see Americans insisting on what is right. If your local store has banned the bell ringers, please consider shopping somewhere else.
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Take time to go in and tell the manager that you and your friends will not support a store that discriminates against Christians, especially ones who do so much good for the poor.

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