Christians You Should Know: William Booth August 1, 2023

Booth 1080

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” – 2 Timothy 2:3-4

A Snapshot of the Life of William Booth:

Born: April 10, 1829 – Nottingham, England

Died: Aug. 20,1912 – London, England

Evangelist, founder and first general of Salvation Army, 1865-1912. Booth was converted in a Methodist chapel in 1844. At age 20, on a visit to London, he was recorded having said, “What a city to save!” Booth moved there as a pawnbroker, then pastored there 1851-61. He became a Methodist preacher in Spalding (1852) but resigned from the Methodist New Connection (1861), which he had joined (1854). Booth married Catherine Mumford on June 16, 1855 (died: 1890). In 1865 he took over the work known as the Christian Mission in London’s East End. This organization ministered to the poor, and became the Salvation Army in 1878. They came to America in March, 1880 to expand the ministry. Rapid growth also brought violent opposition, 1880-85. By 1884, some 600 preachers from the Salvation Army were jailed because of preaching in the open air. His social service programs began in 1887. Others were appointed similar to military positions. Booth authored In Darkest England (1890) among others. He became a great evangelist, and his seven children helped him in the work. His parting words to his son were, “I’m leaving you a bonnie handful.” At his funeral, 40,000 attended, and 150,000 people filed by his coffin. Booth had preached 60,000 sermons and had 16,000 officers in his Salvation Army organization throughout 58 countries. Booth’s eight children, born within a 12-year period are as follows: William Bramwell (1856-1929) Ballington(1857-1940), Catherine (1858-1955), Emma Moss (1860-1903), Herbert Howard (1862-1920, Marion Billups (1864-1937: retarded from convulsive attacks at birth), Evangeine Cory (1865-1950: first woman general), Lucy Milward (1867-1953), and a ninth adopted child, George. – (Excerpt taken from the Reese Chronological Encyclopedia of Christian Biographies. Used by permission.)

A Spiritual Application for Our Lives:

The Christian life is often compared to the life of a soldier (2 Timothy 2:1-4, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, Romans 8:37). Indeed, we are in a spiritual battle and under the command of our victorious Captain (Ephesians 6:10-18, 1 Corinthians 15:17-58). William Booth took the charge to join in the battle for truth seriously. He ordered his once mighty Salvation Army after the structure of military command. This army, of dedicated Christian workers, labored to reach men and women for Christ. They used every means they could – food, shelter, work, and other practical help with the aim of winning souls to Christ. Officers labored all over the world and won many to the Lord Jesus.

Amid his immense labor and mission throughout the world, Booth emphasized the necessity of personal holiness and dedication to the Lord Jesus. He encouraged his leaders to be faithful men and women in the service of the Lord. He taught them that if they were faithful and possessed the right character, those whom they led would also be faithful. General Booth modeled the ministry after an army – leaders could distinguish themselves through the ranks and enlist others to win souls for Christ.

Booth labored and preached faithfully for many decades. His passion for souls encouraged many people to commit their lives to the service of the Great Commander. We need another generation of soldiers for the Lord Jesus. It is not a militant heart that we need; we need an obedient heart. A heart that obeys the orders of the Lord Jesus. Let us reflect on the life of William Booth, and by God’s grace, engage in the battle for the lost. Now, let us heed the warnings about sin and entanglement. Let us work that we “may please him who hath chosen [us] to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4). 

A Suggestion for Further Reading…

William and Catherine Booth: Founders of the Salvation ArmyHelen K. Hosier (1999)

William Booth: Soup, Soap, and Salvation – Janet and Geoff Benge (2023)

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  1. Raymond Ricard on August 2, 2023 at 8:54 PM

    Lord we are desperate to see you raise an army for the glory of the captain of our salvation.
    Do it again and visit us, from an old soldier.

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