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OUR PEOPLE: The remarkable story of William and Catherine Booth and the Salvation Army

William Booth started out as a traveling evangelist. 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.

 

On that fateful night, 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?” William knew the answer, “These will be our people.”

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 William and Catherine their work 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.

The video: OUR PEOPLE: The remarkable story of William and Catherine Booth and the Salvation Army, tells the story of how William and Catherine Booth took God’s love to the poor. This is a very inspirational documentary.

It is not a live action production. The story is told using over 500 images and interviews with 11 historians and storytellers. The many beautiful pictures of 1800’s London makes the story very interesting. There is beautiful background music of familiar hymns. There are live interviews with two of the Booths’ grandchildren.

I really appreciated the account of the now forgotten social work of William and Catherine Booth. Today ‘human trafficking’ is much talked about. Many do not realize however that girls as young as 13 years of age were being trafficked in Britain in the 1800’s because the age of consent was 13. The Booths and Catherine’s friend Josephine Butler worked for many years to get the age of consent raised even to 16. William and Catherine rescued 100’s of young girls and women out of prostitution. They opened homes for them and helped them get other employment. The ‘Army’ was to make caring for the poor their main ministry even to this day.

There is so much more and I think you will really be blessed when you watch this video. It is easily found on the internet. It also features some bonus material – interviews with historians.

Remember how much good those cheerful bell ringers have done over the last 150 years when you see them next Christmas!!!

 

 

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It is not how many years we live, but rather what we do with them.

Evangeline Cory Booth.

 

Eva booth 3Evangeline Cory Booth was a Christian social reformer who dedicated her entire life to helping the poor. In the United States today we still revere the Salvation Army as a great humanitarian organization that relieves the suffering of the impoverished and aids in disaster relief. As a leader in the Salvation Army, Evangeline brought comfort to the poor and the downtrodden. Evangeline was a great speaker, evangelist, fundraiser, and organizer.

Evangeline (Eva) Cory Booth, the seventh of eight children born to William and Catherine Booth, was born in London on December 25, 1865.

In a previous posting (12-13-12) we related the story of her mother who was known as the Mother of the Salvation Army – Catherine Booth. Together with her husband William Booth, Catherine began her ministry to the very poorest of the poor in England. They trusted God to provide for them as they visited the downtrodden in the inner cities where they knew that they would receive no pay for their work. Catherine was so grateful for her own salvation that all she could think of for the rest of her life was to tell others about Jesus.

Catherine and William Booth put feet and hands into the Gospel message by working among the outcasts – prostitutes, alcoholics, and criminals. The founded the little Whitechapel mission that became The Christian Mission that would eventually become the Salvation Army.

This Army of Christ would be made up of men and women. At first, William did the only speaking at evangelistic meetings but eventually Catherine would speak at many of the meetings encouraged by her husband.

And the Booth’s children, even the daughters would follow in their parents’ footsteps and become involved in full time mission work as well. As a child Eva would often sing or play music at her parents’ evangelistic meetings. When she was fifteen, Eva began preaching.

The Booth daughters were not ordained and did not serve in parishes. They filled the roles of ministers and evangelists. They conducted Camp Meetings along with many other nineteenth century evangelists. Old timers remembered the “battle for souls” waged by the Army. Often hundreds would respond to the Gospel with penitence.

William was proud of his daughter’s speaking ability and encouraged her. Eva also had great organizational skills. William promoted Eva to the rank of Field Commissioner in the Army. Eva became head of the Army’s International Training College and the head of the Salvation Army in London for five years.

Her father’s favorite, William also recognized Eva’s skill as a reconciler. When trouble flared up, William would send Eva in as a trouble-shooter to calm the waters. Eva was charming and tactful and could disperse angry mobs and soothe dissenting leaders.

Eva’s sisters married, but Eva herself would remain single for the rest of her life. At one time sheevangeline booth 1 wanted to marry a Salvation Army major, Thomas McKie, but William rejected the man’s request for his daughter’s hand. William believed that Eva could serve the Salvation Army best as a single officer. Later Eva did adopt and raise four children, one of whom, Pearl, grew up to become a Salvation Army officer herself.

Eva became the Territorial Commander of the Salvation Army in Canada from 1896-1904. At this time her sister, Emma Booth-Tucker and her husband headed up the Salvation Army in the United States. Emma and her husband were killed in a tragic train accident in 1903. Eva was appointed head of the Salvation Army in the USA in 1904. She changed her name to Evangeline and went on to serve as the Commander of the American Salvation Army for thirty years.

It was during her first Christmas in New York when Evangeline began the work that we are most familiar with today – providing food for starving children. When Evangeline heard that there were over 70,000 children going without breakfast, she organized the effort to collect money to feed over 30,000 people on Christmas day.

Evangeline threw herself into her work tirelessly. She expanded the work of the Army by setting up soup kitchens, emergency shelters, opportunities for the unemployed, hospitals for unwed mothers, work in prisons, and homes for the elderly. Evangeline Residences were opened to provide a safe place for working women to live.

People remember Evangeline as a compassionate woman, thoughtful and kind, genuinely sympathetic with the poor and downtrodden, and a dedicated evangelist.

Evangeline had a magnetic personality and was able to hold audiences spellbound for hours. She could charm large fortunes out of the wealthy for the Army.

Evangeline responded with emergency relief assistance after the earthquake and fire in San Francisco in 1906. This was the first time the Army organized a large-scale relief effort for a natural disaster. These efforts have continued to this day.

booth_whiteHouseDuring World War I, Evangeline persuaded the US government to allow the women in the Salvation Army to serve overseas. One of the women came up with the idea of making doughnuts for the solders. It was a huge success. Soldiers were grateful and appreciative for the “doughnut girls” who were brave enough to serve the men in the front lines. President Wilson awarded Evangeline the Distinguished Service Medal in 1919 for her service.

In 1923 Evangeline adopted the United States as her permanent home becoming a naturalized citizen.

Evangeline became the International Commander-in-Chief in 1934, the first woman General for the International Salvation Army. She launched her “World for God” campaign and began traveling and speaking all over the world. For five years Evangeline was the Salvation Army’s leader in over fifty countries. On her travels she inspected the Army stations and initiated new work throughout the world in such places as India, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. At one of her meetings in India Evangeline drew a crowd of over twenty thousand people. She spoke for an hour and 5000 people seeking salvation responded to her message with prayer.

While Evangeline was significant in the growth of the Salvation Army worldwide, she is mostly remembered for her work in the United States. Evangeline played the most significant role in winning the respect for the Salvation Army that it still enjoys today. One can still go anywhere in the United States at the Christmas season and see the Army volunteers, the familiar bell ringers, collecting money for the poor.

Evangeline led the army in the USA for thirty years and her followers stayed devoted to her until her death in 1950 in Hartsdale, New York at the age of 84. At her funeral a Salvation Army commander said, “She created homes for the homeless, friends for the friendless, and jobs for the jobless. Against tremendous odds, she established faith and hope where it had not existed before.”

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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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