Words of Hope

Good News. No Boundaries

Can One Person Make a Difference?

by: Marc Baer

Everywhere he preached William Booth’s evangelistic campaigns were successful. Never concerned about religious respectability, Booth constantly experimented. He preached in tents, theaters, and even a saloon. He used parades and lively music. Sadly, many of those he led to Christ were not welcome in churches because of their former lifestyles, and so they turned to William Booth for pastoral and social care and teaching.

What was not yet named the Salvation Army grew out of the Booths’ successes with society’s failures. In the East End they started various services for the poor, including schools, soup kitchens, and banks. Soon the work expanded beyond London. The work grew in part because they planted ministries among poor people rather than requiring them to travel to church, then they put poor and working-class converts—both male and female—to work within the organization. In 1878 that organization became the Salvation Army, with uniforms, ranks, brass bands, and parades. They were ridiculed in the press and by the established churches, and sometimes attacked on the streets. But what appeared foolish to many touched the lives of thousands because addressing spiritual and physical needs went hand in hand. That William Booth’s work has endured for a century and a half reminds us how God can use one committed believer.