By Pastor Ron Buxton
William Booth was a fiery British preacher from the 19th century. He founded a Christian movement with a military style of structure and government in 1865. This organization eventually would be called the Salvation Army, but that official title would come in 1878. Today, we easily recognize the bell ringers and red kettles that appear this time of year, but the story of how it all began is fascinating to retell. Please oblige me with a few minutes of your time.
Alongside his wife, Catherine, Booth was able to develop one of the largest humanitarian enterprises in the history of western civilization. Interestingly, its focus was much more defined in the very beginning. You see, at the end of the 19th century, London was rife with social outcasts: alcoholics, drug addicts, criminals, and prostitutes. It was to these folks that the Salvation Army developed its core beliefs that each human life is precious in the eyes of God, and can be redeemed and reformed through their spiritual and humanitarian efforts.
What began as simple and small soup kitchens, gradually established its presence throughout 50 countries during William and Catherine Booths’ lifetime. Remember, these were days of much slower means of transportation and communication. Truly an amazing accomplishment way before modern and advanced techniques of marketing!
In 1890, William Booth published a best-selling book called In Darkest England and the Way Out. This outlined his social relief strategies through his Christian worldview. An excerpt from that book follows:
“While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight! While little children go hungry, I’ll fight! While men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight! While there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, where there remains one dark soul without the Light of God–I’ll fight! I’ll fight to the very end!”
In a few days, you will begin to see those bell ringers and familiar red kettles. It looks harmless enough–a little joy in the jingle of the Christmas holiday season. But know this. There is a battle taking place. There is an “army” that has been deployed. Your contributions help this Salvation Army to not only “do the most good”–but you can also help in the greater battle against all human suffering!
Should you have any questions, or would like to help in this benevolent effort, please call me–Pastor Ron Buxton–at (915) 803.9352
May God bless you!