Posts Tagged ‘social work’

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love, kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8).

“…to stand by the great cause of poor, oppressed humanity. …This has been my ‘call’ from the beginning, by frances willardnature and by nurture; let me be true to its inspiring and cheery mandate even ‘unto this last.’” (From France Willard’s autobiography, “Glimpses of Fifty Years”, p. 694.)

“’Except the Lord build the city, they labor in vain that build,’ and she has always sought to commit her work and her ways to the keeping of the Divine Master in a simple child-like faith that He would lead her in the way she should go and would make all her paths straight before her” (“Introduction, pg. ix”)

Though her name has been forgotten today Frances Willard was the most famous woman in America, and was even well-known in Europe, during the late 19th century. Frances Willard died in New York in 1898, and her body was transported by rail to Chicago, pausing for services along the way like a presidential funeral train. In Chicago, 30,000 persons filed by her casket in one day. Ruth Bordin wrote, “The nation mourned her with a grief, admiration, and respect it would have bestowed on a great national hero or martyred president. No woman before or since was so clearly on the day of her death this country’s most honored woman.” Flags flew at half-mast in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D. C.

I recommend two books on the life of this fascinating woman:

1. Anna Gordon’s The Beautiful Life of Frances E. Willard. I am privileged to have an original 1898 Memorial edition (Women’s Temperance Publishing Association, Chicago, IL, 1898). There are still original books available as well as reprints in online bookstores.

  1. Frances Willard’s autobiography, Glimpses of Fifty Years: The Autobiography of an American Woman. Again, there are beautiful reprints available.

In a previous post, January 23, 2013, I listed the many accomplishments of Frances Willard including her temperance work, her aid to poor and destitute women, her aid to the refugees from the Armenian Christians who were being persecuted in Turkey, and the advances she made in education. In her day women struggled to get into college; women today can be grateful for equal opportunities in education thanks to women like Frances Willard.

In this post I would like to present just a sampling of the wisdom of this great woman.

To be busy doing something that is worthy to be done is the happiest thing in all this world for girl or boy, for old or young. (pg. 70)

Frances’s learned a valuable lesion from her blind friend. This young girl maintained a cheerful attitude because … “happiness is from within; that the real light shines in the heart, not in the eyes, and that everybody who will be glad may be” (pg. 91).

On Christian fellowship – I honestly believe that I regard all the churches, the branches rather of the one Church, with feelings of equal kindness and fellowship. … The churches are all fighting nobly and zealously to make the world better and happier. Oh, I earnestly pray that as I grow older, the kindly, all-loving, catholic spirit may more deeply ground itself in my heart! (Pg. 127)

friction:peaceAnd – How much of life’s present friction will be avoided when the average mind discovers that the central aim of any life is best conserved by choosing for one’s motto “In non-essentials, liberty”! (Pg. 201)


On perseverance – But I have come to believe that it is well for us, well for our characters, those beautiful fabrics we are weaving every day, to do those things that do not make us happy, but only make us strong. (Pg. 147)

As a young woman, Frances sought for satisfaction in life. She believed that the answer is in Christ.  Christ has in His nature the elements that will make all this true when we behold Him face to face. We do not know that we are seeking here when we strive so hard and fret so much. … we shall erelong awake to life and be restless and hungry and thirsty no more! (Pg. 184)

It broke Frances’s heart to leave behind her girls at Evanston College where she had labored for years, giving the best of her life. She was forced out by the new president who refused to examine his lax rules for the students as she advised. She could no longer stay there in good conscience lying to the parents that their daughters were not at risk spiritually. Though she was more “in the right” and agonized over the decision to leave her young women behind she received peace when she rested in God. She heard His voice saying, good to forgive, best to forget. (Pg. 239)

In the turning point in her life, when Frances stepped away from a secure job for an unknown future she turned to her Bible for comfort. This verse gave her assurance, Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. (Psalm 37:3) (Pg. 337)

More on forgiveness: Frances met Pandita Ramabai. (See my posts on this amazing woman from India, Dec. 22, 2011 and Sept. 6, 2012). Frances was very impressed with the gentleness of Ramabai. This seems to be her motto. “Has any wronged thee: Be bravely avenged; slight it, and the work’s begun; forgive it, and ‘tis finished.” (Pg. 558)

In her religious journey Frances sought to lead others to Christ. In her day Unitarianism was on the rise. She struggled with the idea of a Trinity as many do, but finally she decided to adjust myself to the idea of “Three in one” and “One in three.” … I translate the concept of God into the nomenclature and personality of the New Testament. What Paul says of Christ, is what I say; the love John felt, it is my dearest with to cherish. (Pg. 624)

On Companionship – “Tell me with whom thou goest and I’ll tell thee what thou doest.” No precept was ever more frequently repeated and enforced by my parents than this. (Pg. 637)

On knowing ourselves – I wonder if we really know ourselves in respect of discount as well as we do in respect of advantage? It seems equally important that we should, else our undertakings will be out of all proportion to our powers, and failure a foregone conclusion. I have always believed that in a nobler state of society we should help each other by frank and kindly criticism, couple with equally frank praise, and have held, in the face of steady contradiction from my friends, that Christian people ought thus to help each other here and now. (Pg. 646)

Finally, I cannot help but include this piece of “prophecy”. Frances lamented the fact that the newly invented “phonograph” would ruin the beauty and intimacy of good conversation.

To my thought, conversation is the filling and soul of social life, the culmination of the spirit’s possible power, the giving of a life-time in an hour, though its form and method certainly have changed in this electric age when the phonograph has come into being. I half suspect that there will be a strike in the physical manufactory one of these day; the muscles of the face will refuse to do their duty, the tongue will make believe paralytic, and the lips will join the rebellion. (Pg. 686)

Frances said this before radio or television or computers or I-phones or texting or tweeting!! How far we have traveled! Do today’s teens even know how to have a conversation that is more than 10 seconds long?

I pray that at the end of my life I will enjoy the old hymn so much loved by Frances Willard and be able to sing its words truly:

May the Lord He will be glad of me,
May the Lord He will be glad of me,
May the Lord He will be glad of me,
        In the heaven He’ll rejoice









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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.

salvation army

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.
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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