PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “The greatness of a man is the measure of his surrender!”
By: Ron Woodrum
Most of us are very familiar with the ministry of the Salvation Army. We have all given donations to the Red Kettle, and probably many of us have even taken a turn or two at “ringing the bell”. Every major town or city has its Salvation Army Church and ministry center right in the heart of where it is needed most! That was the aim of their founder from the beginning. William Booth started this ministry in 1865, on the East Side of London England with that very intent. He said, “Go for souls…and go for the worst”. He did that very thing. He encountered and won the prostitutes, gamblers, alcoholics, and homeless beggars to Christ. His ministry revolved around the three “s”‘s-Soup-Soap-Salvation! He was converted under the ministry of John Wesley, carried on by Wesley’s followers after his death in 1791. Booth found Christ at a Methodist revival in 1844, at the age of 15. He said, “I worshipped everything that bore the name Methodist. To me there was one God, and John Wesley was his prophet. I had devoured the story of his life. No human compositions seemed to me to be comparable with his writings…the best hope for the salvation of the world was the faithful carrying into the practice the letter of the spirit of his instructions”. He spent his life doing just that! He said. “The greatness of a man is the measure of his surrender!” In that regard William Booth is a great man and a great example of those who would follow Jesus.
Let me share a few of his impactful quotes. He said, “to get a man soundly saved it is not enough to put on him a pair of new breeches, to give him regular work, or even to give him a University education. These things are all outside a man, and if the inside remains unchanged you have wasted your labor…you must graft on the man’s nature a new nature, which has in it the element of the Divine!” Listen to this: “It is against stupidity in every shape and form that we have to wage eternal battle. But how can we wonder at the want of the sense on the part of those who have had no advantages, when we see such plentiful absence of that commodity on the part of those who have had all the advantages!”. Called to ministry? His view: “Not called! Did you say? Not heard the call. I think you should put your ear to the Bible and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened agonized hear of humanity and listen to their pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters not to come to this place of torment. Then look Christ in the face, whose mercy you have professed to obey, and tell him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish his mercy to the world!” “God loves with a great love the man whose heart is bursting with passion for the impossible!” “We must wake ourselves up or somebody else will take our place, and bear our cross, and steal our crown”.
He said the danger for the future is: “A religion without the Holy Ghost; Christianity without Christ; forgiveness without repentance; salvation without regeneration; politics without God; and heaven without hell!” He was a very perceptive prophet. Listen to his determination. “While women weep, as they do now. I’ll fight. While children go hungry, as they do now-I’ll fight. While men go in and out of prison, as they do now-I’ll fight! While there remains one dark soul without the light of God-I’ll fight. I will fight until the very end!” “We are not to minister to a congregation and be content to keep things going. We are sent to make war and to stop short of nothing but the subjugation of the world to the sway of the Lord Jesus”. When he was asked to speak to a graduation class of clergymen he said, “If I would have had my way you men would not have be graduated with just these studies. I would have had you spend twenty-four hours in hell to experience the torments of those who are damned and then turned you loose on a dying world!”. Toward the end of his life he was unable to attend the annual meetings of his denomination. They asked him to telegraph a message for the congregants. He responded with one word-“Others!” When he was told that the work was failing and they did not know what to do next-he responded with a two-world telegraph-“Try tears!” It would not hurt us to take a refresher course in the theology of General William Booth. He sounds very much like our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen?