‘There is no improving the future without disturbing the present.’
“Faith and works should travel side by side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again – until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other.”
History is full of treasure. There are so many rich stories of heroes who went before us, whose life’s inspiration can create an expectation for your own. For my school, I had to study ‘revival history’ and dive into the lives heroes of faith. I chose to write my report about William and Catherine Booth, born around 1830 to become the founders of the Salvation Army. I chose them because the Booths and the revival that flowed out of their lives are unique in my eyes. This revival went beyond church meetings, shaped society and changed a nation. The Booths have showed that love is stopping for the one and feeding the poor, but it’s also influencing the influencers and making changes in systems that will impact generations for centuries.
The Booths taught me that it all starts with noticing. It’s a willingness to see instead of just looking, it’s an ability to listen, instead of just hearing. The Booths were so effected by the heart of the bleeding Lamb that they couldn’t do anything else but open their eyes and see the needs of the people He paid such a high price for.
And once they opened their eyes, they opened their mouth. The most moving story of their ministry was for me the time they worked together with a journalist called Stead. They risked everything to reveal the story of young girls from poor families trapped in the ‘modern slavery’ of prostitution. The British society was in complete ignorance of this injustice. The Booths and Stead both knew that there would never be a change if people are not aware of the problem. So they opened their mouth and became an advocate for the ones without a voice.
And the final thing that the Booths did after noticing and mentioning was acting. The Booths lived in the rhythm of His heartbeat. Their compassion was bigger than their need for recognition or their reputation. They were willing to do what most people refuse to do. They were willing to go to the darkest places, to help the poorest of the poor, to speak about the things that others remained silent about and to love the ones that most people distance themselves from.
In James 2 we read that faith without works is dead. This verse is written in the footprint of the lives of the Booths. They taught us that revival is more than church services, that salvation is more than a prayer, that Christianity is more than a philosophy and that love is more than a word. Faith in its true nature will always cause and create works of love. Works don’t create faith, but faith creates works. So whenever the Booths saw a need, they responded with action. They took it on as their responsibility, because they realized that Jesus had taken their problems as His responsibility. They brought the salvation that Jesus died for to anyone in any layer of society and for every area of their lives.
The Booths opened their eyes, they opened their mouth and they opened their arms. They welcome the needy, the hurting, the poor and the broken in. They fed them, they held them, they visited them, they helped them and they rescued them.
This is what the Booths inspired me to do also.
I’ll open my eyes – noticing both the needs and the potential from Kingdom-perspective.
I’ll open my mouth – mentioning what’s on the Father’s heart to bring justice in every situation.
I’ll open my arms – acting in bold acts of love to extend the embrace that I’m eternally enfolded in.