Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Witnessing for Christ and Loving the Unlovable
On this day in history, in 1885, the Salvation Army was officially organized by William Booth. In his early years as a minister in England (1852), he abandoned the conventional pulpit and preached the gospel in the streets to the homeless and hungry. In ’65 he set up a tent in a Quaker graveyard and attracted followers dedicated to win souls.
Among his first desperately poor converts, thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards came, loving his encouraging message of hope and salvation. And Booth worked with his wife Catherine alongside to link the new Christians to a church for further spiritual teaching. Many churches, however, didn’t like that or accept the new converts due to their pasts.
This same thing happened when my sons preached near a Dallas university. They dragged a huge cross up and down the streets, sharing the message of Christ and many young people received Christ’s salvation, and our church didn’t like their long hair and tattoos and shunned them as well.
Challenging his new believers, Booth encouraged them to share with others like themselves—a living testimony to God’s great power. In 1867, he had ten full-time workers. By 1874, that number had grown to a thousand volunteers and forty-two evangelists who served at "The Christian Mission" with Booth as general superintendent. Followers called him "General" and became known as the "Hallelujah Army," spreading outside of London.
Reading a printer's proof of the 1878 annual report, Booth noticed the statement "The Christian Mission is a volunteer army." He crossed out the words "volunteer army" and penned in "Salvation Army." From that point, his followers became soldiers of Christ known as Salvationists.
In spite of violence and persecution, a quarter of a million people came to Christ under the ministry of The Salvation Army between 1881 and 1885. The Army gained a foothold in the United States when Lieutenant Eliza Shirley left England to join her parents, who’d migrated to America earlier in search for work. In 1879, she held the first meeting of The Salvation Army in America, in Philadelphia. The Salvationists were received enthusiastically.
Writing to General Booth, Shirley begged for reinforcements, but none were available. However, positive reports of her work in Philadelphia convinced Booth, and in 1880, he sent an official group to pioneer the work in America. At the first official street meeting, unfriendly reactions met those pioneers, and they suffered ridicule, arrest, and attack. Several officers and soldiers even gave their lives.
By 1883, the Salvationists had expanded into California, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. President Grover Cleveland received a delegation of Salvation Army officers and gave the organization a warm personal endorsement.
General Booth's death in 1912 proved a great loss to The Salvation Army, but did not deter the ministry's onward march. His eldest son, Bramwell Booth, succeeded him, and today, the Salvation Army is virtually in every corner of the world.
As through the centuries, God is on the move again today, drawing men to Himself, offering the gift of salvation. I'm just so excited about what He is doing and that I get to be a part of His awesome plan. AND, I'm singing about it. Check out this NEW SONG He gave me! :)
Bio: Caryl McAdoo is all about loving God! She currently writes four series: the historical Christian ‘Texas Romance’; a contemporary ‘Red River Romance’; The Generations, her Biblical fiction, and the newest Days of Dread Trilogy for mid-grade readers. Known as the Singing Pray-er, she loves praising with new songs the Lord gives her and prays her story gives God glory! In 2008, she and her high school sweetheart-husband Ron moved from the DFW area—home for fifty-plus years—to the woods of Red River County. Caryl counts four children and sixteen grandsugars life’s biggest blessings believing all good things come from God. Besides glorifying Him, she hopes each title will also minister His love, mercy, and grace to its readers. Caryl and Ron live in Clarksville, the county seat, in the far northeast corner of the Lone Star State with two grandsons.