How It Really Happened

It was downright embarrassing. A highly regarded lawyer, whose clientele had included members of New York City’s highest echelon of society, had become a man you would try to avoid. To put it bluntly, he had become a drunk. You’d heard of social drinkers who became alcoholics, but until now you’d never known one personally. This man had been a trusted friend and advisor!

Naturally he had been referred to the best doctors, but somehow, no doctor had been able to help. In a seemingly short time he had become a full-blown alcoholic. Fortunately for him, he had not lost all of his contacts; some would gladly trust him again if he could straighten out. Though they would be sympathetic, they wouldn’t think of letting him touch their legal matters now. When nothing else seemed to help, someone suggested The Salvation Army, specifically a certain officer in an “industrial home”—what we now call an adult rehabilitation center. This officer was Major Wallace Winchell (no kin to Walter Winchell, the radio reporter of news and gossip some two decades later). Major Winchell had seen considerable success in his Army ministry. Why not try him, since nothing else had worked? Best of all, he was near at hand in Jersey City.

Thanks to Major Winchell’s spiritual guidance and his remarkable rapport with men struggling with alcohol, the lawyer was converted and became a changed man. Not only did he regain his reputation and much of his legal practice, but he became a valued volunteer on the staff of the attorney general in Washington, DC.

WAR DECLARED
The year was 1917. When the United States declared war on Germany and the Central Powers, our government accepted an offer of services from the American Red Cross. Then the YMCA made an offer of 10,000 volunteers. Ten thousand! The Salvation Army’s National Commander Evangeline Booth (often called simply “the Commander”) foresaw a need for some of her officers to serve overseas as well, but with a different emphasis. She wired her offer to Washington, but the reply was, basically, “Thanks, but no thanks.” This response was not surprising, considering the YMCA’s almost overwhelming offer.

As for The Salvation Army, whose services the commander was offering, its people were often perceived as a bunch of religious eccentrics who persisted in preaching on the streets, banging drums and tambourines, playing horns with varying degrees of tunefulness, and accepting coins thrown onto a bass drum laid on its side for that purpose.

Consequently, she should not have been surprised at the negative response to her offer. But she didn’t accept that as the last word. She sent her property secretary, Lt. Colonel William Barker, for an interview with Joseph Tumulty, private secretary to the president.

PRESIDENT WILSON’S SECRETARY
Tumulty was talking to a man at the far end of the room when Colonel Barker entered. After Barker stated his case, they were interrupted by the other man. “Joe, give the colonel what he wants and make it good. The boys over there will need help, and when I think what Major Winchell has done for me… ” Colonel Barker then recognized a prominent lawyer — that lawyer. His conversion through the Army’s ministry had caused a sensation in New York society circles. So after telling his story to Tumulty, he said, “Now you know what The Salvation Army has done for me. Do what you can for The Salvation Army.”

Tumulty acted quickly. A letter to the American ambassador in France was speedily written, and the door to our wartime overseas service began to swing open. But the hinge was the testimony, in that crucial moment, of a lawyer who had found the Lord through the Army’s work with alcoholics!

Perhaps you think you’ve heard all you ever want to hear about The Salvation Army’s work with American doughboys overseas during World War I, and the profound effect this had on the public’s perception of us. If so you are likely to say, “That was a long, long time ago. Why tell it again now?”

An officer in a sometimes underappreciated but important branch of our work, while carrying out his “normal” ministry, was used by the Lord to do something with unexpectedly far-reaching results. The testimony of the lawyer whose life was changed resulted in that letter from the president’s secretary. It did not grant The Salvation Army authority to put any specific plan into motion, only the right to carry to U.S. military leaders the offer to place Salvationists at their disposal. Armed with that letter and sent to France, Colonel Barker was able to deal directly with American military officers. Some of those brushed off the idea as ill-advised, and had brushed him off as well. But he pressed on until he faced General John J. Pershing, a man described by one historian as “cold-eyed” and “granite-faced,” a consequence of the tragedy he had suffered two years earlier. That tragedy and its aftermath now becomes a vital part of our story.

GENERAL PERSHING REMEMBERS
Back in 1915 John J. Pershing, after completing a second tour of duty in the Philippines, was living in San Francisco with his wife and four children when he was hurriedly called by President Woodrow Wilson to halt the depredations of the elusive Mexican bandit, Pancho Villa, who had the audacity to make a surprise raid on a U.S. Army cavalry garrison at Columbus, New Mexico. Hardly had Pershing arrived in El Paso, Texas, where his troops were assembling, when he received tragic news. His wife and three daughters were burned to death in a fire in their quarters back in San Francisco. Only his son, Warren, survived. When Pershing rushed back, The Salvation Army’s provincial officer, Colonel Henry Lee, went to see him personally, demonstrating great personal concern and sympathy, as did other Salvationists. This caring attitude was in sharp contrast to that of the respectable members of Bay Area churches, who somehow ignored the incident, failing to offer even perfunctory condolences to one who was essentially an outsider. Often in those days, American military personnel and their “Army wives” and “Army brats” were not highly thought of in the settled communities where they temporarily resided. They would move in, stay for a time, then suddenly move out again at the behest of military leadership. Pershing never forgot the Army’s kindness, which touched him deeply.

For the U.S., the Pancho Villa affair had been less than a resounding success. The renegade had not been caught, although his bandits had ceased their depredations. However, a more serious problem had arisen; the government of Mexico did not take kindly to having American troops trespassing in their country, even commandeering a locomotive for the pursuit of the bandit. In fact, Mexico considered America’s intrusion to be an act of war. Finally, President Woodrow Wilson decided there were matters weightier than risking a full-blown war with our neighbor to the south, so early in February 1917 Pershing, by then a major-general, and his troops, were recalled.

Three months later, Pershing was in France with a staff of 31 officers hand-picked by him, commanding an as–yet non–existent expeditionary force. The presidential directive was very specific, stipulating that “the forces of the United States are to be a separate and distinct component of the combined forces, the identity of which must be preserved… you will exercise full discretion in determining the manner of cooperation.”

The conscription and training of an American army was still in its early stages. The French, British and Italians were not looking for an American army as an entity; they wanted a manpower pool, insisting that we turn over the American soldiers to them as replacements for use in their own severely depleted fighting forces. But Pershing was determined to carry out his directive from the president.

When Colonel Barker was admitted to the room where Pershing was in conference, he saw the general confronted by representatives of the three Allied nations who were behaving like a swarm of angry bees. It hardly seemed a propitious moment to present his offer. Imagine: Here was this Salvationist offering to place civilian men and women side–by–side with American troops, probably even in combat zones! Perhaps, after all these years, it’s hard to fully grasp the situation. It must have seemed like a scene from a comic opera. In the midst of this tense dispute involving four major nations came this man from a smallish and little understood religious group, bearing nothing but a letter. So what did Pershing do? Did he brush him off, like some of his subordinate officers had done? No. He welcomed him warmly, and before they were through, accepted his offer! What the others probably did not know about, at least at the time, was Pershing’s experience in San Francisco two years earlier, and the unusual kindness of the Salvationists. He knew that these were his kind of people, just what he would need for keeping up the spirits of his troops.

Have you ever heard of Wallace Winchell and Henry Lee? Well, now you have. They were what we might call “ordinary Salvation Army officers,” one from New Jersey, the other from California, just doing what the Lord called them to do. But their thoughtful acts of kindness, carried out with compassion as well as patience and persistence (especially the latter in the case of the alcoholic), led ultimately to an audience with an ambassador, followed by free access to military officers who perhaps shrugged their shoulders as they shunted “this guy from The Salvation Army” on to the general himself. Imagine their surprise at the outcome, since they had no clue regarding Pershing’s feelings of gratitude toward the Army. And it all happened because of two caring officers, living some 3,000 miles apart, who probably didn’t even know each other!
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By Major Paul Marshall

When Helping Hurts

War Cry: Describe the plight of the poor in the developing world.
Dr. Brian Fickkert: About 2.4 billion people live on less than $2 a day, approximately 1.1 million live on less than a dollar a day. That $2 a day level represents about 40% of the world’s population. So often the measures that are used are physical measures, such as health, infant mortality or life span. But when you ask a people characterized by these statistics “What is it like to be poor?” they respond from their perspective as whole people. While they often describe their physical plight, they often talk in psychological, social and spiritual terms about their conditions. They feel ashamed, less than human, no hope, without any voice, unable to affect change or society. They feel disconnected or even condemned by the gods. They describe poverty in more holistic terms than those of us in the West. We come from a very materialist framework. We focus on material issues when the issues are actually far more holistic and multifaceted.

WC: Do the poor in the United States feel the same as people in other countries?
BF:
If you ask poor people in America, they are more likely to talk about psychological and social factors. The materially poor here in the United States are always rich in a purely economic sense compared to the rest of the world. They talk about a sense of a loss of purpose, of meaning, of hope, a feeling that they are not truly part of society.

WC: Explain how poverty is the result of relationships that don’t work.
BF:
The first step in trying to alleviate poverty is to properly diagnose the underlying condition. Often approaches to helping the poor have focused on symptoms rather than underlying causes. A person who is dressed poorly or who appears to be hungry or sick, lacking shelter—those are symptoms of something far deeper. Trying to figure out what that is pushes us into a question of what is a human being? How has God designed human beings? What has He designed us for? The Bible teaches that the essence of a human being is that we are made in the image of God. Theologians have debated exactly what it means because there is no verse that says what “made in the image of God” means. But we know that human beings are wired for relationship. God Himself is a relational being.

There are four key relationships in Scripture. Our primary relationship is with God Himself. We are wired for communion with God. Our second relationship is with ourselves through our self-image, self-concept. The Bible says that we reflect our Creator. The third relationship is a relationship to others. We are to love others as much as we love ourselves. There ought to be a sense of community. Finally, we are to have a relationship to the rest of creation. Humans are called as stewards of creation, to take care of it, protecting and preserving it, but also developing it through our work. There is a kind of rhythm established in Genesis 1 of humans working, resulting in our being able to eat and support ourselves. Human beings are wired to experience these four relationships in the way that God intended. When we experience them the way God designed them, we experience what it really means to reflect the image of God. But the Fall happened and it has distorted all four of those relationships. Our actions and the cultures and societies we create don’t function the way they are supposed to. Poverty is rooted in the fundamental broken nature of human beings.

WC: Define predatory gratification.
BF:
As we describe materially poor communities, as outsiders we tend to be judgmental and forget the oppressive systems that lock people into poverty. But one of the things that we see in inner city communities in the United States is predator/ prey mentality. People sometimes feel they are allowed to attack the weak. If the weak have property or try to get ahead, often predators will come and try to take advantage. My church had a Christmas celebration for some inner city children living around our church. At the end of it we saw some kids smashing their toys against the walls. We asked, “What are you doing?” They said, “If you have something someone will come and take it. We smash our toys before someone can take them away from us.” The strong take advantage of the weak. When people live in that setting, it is difficult for them to invest in the future. Someone will take that future away.

WC: Why is tough love important when we are helping people?
BF:
What we want is restoration of relationship to God, self, others and the rest of the creation. That is what God is doing in His creation. Sometimes due to the Fall people engage in behaviors that are inconsistent with this process of restoration. Sometimes what we need to do is allow people to experience some of the consequences of their own sin in order for them to see what that leads to. At times we get in the way of the Holy Spirit’s work by debiting the pain. For example, if every time a child does the wrong thing and Mom and Dad rush in, fix the problem and take away the pain, then the child doesn’t learn to change the behavior. Sometimes the best way to love people is for them to experience the consequences of their decisions. The Bible clearly commands that we are to work. If a person is not willing to work then the Bible says they shouldn’t eat. If we are providing all sorts of handouts to people who are not willing to work we are enabling them to persist in what isn’t good for them.

WC: What is asset based community development?
BF:
So often when we start working with a low income individual or low income community, we rush in and try to find out what their needs are. That seems reasonable. One of the primary dynamics we are trying to overcome is a marred identity, which many poor people have. By marred identity I mean that broken relationship with self that many materially poor people are experiencing so they are left with a sense of inferiority, that they can’t actually affect change in the world around them. We approach people that have a sense of incapacity as we at the same time are aware of our own of brokenness. In “helping” others we miss that we struggle with pride, with feeling we have been anointed by God to save other people. When people who are prideful interact with people who feel shame, it is a really bad combination. We take over and through our actions and our words we communicate, “You are really helpless and you need me to fix you.” A need-based approach exacerbates that problem because it basically says, “What is wrong with you? How can I fix you?”

An asset based approach starts off with what is right. It says to the low-income individuals or community, “What gifts and abilities has God given to you? What resources do you have?” It walks that person or community through a process of listing their gifts. Gifts can be spiritual, social, physical. They can be associations or businesses in a community, the gift of family, or personal gifts. After getting people to understand what those gifts are you then ask, “What are your dreams? How can you use these gifts to achieve the dreams?” Eventually you ask what the obstacles are, what will prevent you from achieving your goals with your own assets. Those are things you might want to provide from the outside, the needs that need to be addressed. Whatever you are providing from the outside should not undermine their use of their own gifts.

WC: What role does repentance play for both the receiver and the giver?
BF:
Most think the poor need to come and repent of all kinds of sins and behaviors, such as alcoholism or destructive behaviors. The poor need to repent as part of their own process of healing and restoration. But what is surprising is that those who are materially better off also need to repent.

There are two sins that are deadly to our work with the poor. The first one is to have pride and superiority. We often think that we are kind of self-made, that we pulled ourselves up by our own bootstraps. We have a sense of accomplishment, that we are not as bad as others. That pride is particularly harmful as we work with the materially poor. They have a sense of shame. When people with a sense of pride mix with people who have a sense of shame, it’s a bad combination. We speak down to them, take over, try to control, confirming in them what they already feel.

The other is materialism, not just things like televisions and DVD players. It is something a bit broader than that. It is understanding the world in a naturalistic way, seeing the world as a big machine. It is to not believe that spiritual forces do intervene in the world. All this leads to approaches to the poor by looking for material, natural solutions for things. If we dig this well or if we make this vaccine available, build a house for somebody or give them money, we have solved the problem. But the Bible speaks of human beings and indeed the entire universe as having a spiritual component. In fact in Colossians 1, Paul describes Jesus Christ as the Creator and Sustainer and Reconciler of the entire universe. He is touching it, He is holding it in the palm of His hand and He is doing something to it. The biblical model is that human beings and the cosmos as a whole are open to Him. We are spiritual in nature.

That changes everything. It changes how we view our everyday life. Suddenly prayer is essential, praying to God, believing He is actually doing something. It changes how we work with the poor. It is not just about stuff. It is about a spirituality and relationship. It is a different understanding of how the world works.

Fighting the Good Fight

The term “culture war” became popular with the 1991 publication of Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America by James Davison Hunter, a sociologist at the University of Virginia. He argued that the hot-button issues, such as abortion, gun control, separation of church and state, privacy, recreational drug use, homosexuality and censorship, were more than simply divisive issues. This wasn’t a war between “nominal religion, ethnicity, social class or even political affiliation, but between ideological world views.”

The war has escalated in intensity and rhetoric between what is simplistically labeled the conservative right and liberal left.

The world may “fight like hell,” but God’s Word demands Christians enlist with a heavenly strategy to wage war against lies and evil. The apostle Paul describes it as “fighting the good fight.” This does not mean fighting like the world fights, but fighting like heaven!

People are not the enemy, but POWs: The Bible makes it clear that there is only one enemy! “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Satan — or the devil, the accuser, Beelzebub — and his fallen-angel followers are our only enemies; everyone else is a prisoner of war taken captive by his influence.

All Christians were once captives: “This includes you who were once far away from God. You were His enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions (Colossians 1:21).

The war is not with people or even people groups: This is not a political or even an ideological war. It must be fought on a spiritual level with spiritual weapons. Again, Paul writes: “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:10-12).

The war is not fought with conventional tactics: Christians make a tactical error by fighting with ballots, boycotts and billboards. “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

Tactic 1: Love Your Enemies
Unlike fringe groups who claim “God Hates [fill in the blank]” Jesus teaches the contrary: “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike”(Matthew 5:43-47). Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in the landmark lawsuit Roe v. Wade in 1973 that legalized abortion, was working in a women’s clinic when the pro-life organization Operation Rescue moved in next door. She struck up a friendship with Operation Rescue’s Philip “flip” Benham and Emily, the seven-year-old daughter of an OR volunteer. McCorvey would tell a reporter that she could hake off the hateful chants that she was a “baby-killer,” but couldn’t resist God’s love expressed through Benham and Emily. She became a Christian and an outspoken pro-life advocate.

Tactic 2: Bless Your Enemies
When Paul wrote letters to instruct believers, Christians were subject to brutal persecution under the Roman emperor Nero. The culture war of that day was leaving thousands of Christian martyrs in its wake. What tactic did Paul advance?

“Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” (Romans 12:14-16). And there is no record of rebellion or violence toward those who were slaughtering Christians. Paul writes: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone… live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink” (Romans 12:17-20).

Tactic 3: Overcome Evil With Good
I love The Salvation Army’s strategy to serve, not judge, to love, not divide, to welcome, not cast out. Paul describes it simply. “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good” (v. 21).

Rather than simply attacking evil, John Wesley and his Methodists provided positive alternatives to poverty, child labor and human trafficking. The Wesley revival saw the creation of credit unions, work reform and the end to slavery. The Salvation Army took up the challenge by supporting child labor laws, providing home for orphans and insisting on righteousness both personally and socially. Today, the abortion “war” is seeing more and more crisis pregnancy centers providing prenatal care and support to mothers and fewer and fewer abortion clinics.

Paul and the first century Christians brought revival to one of the most morally and politically corrupt cultures of his day. We also can fight for the causes of heaven, and extend freedom to captives of the adversary.

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By James Watkins

Great Promises of the Bible

Paul was thoroughly convinced that he would never taste freedom again. He waited in prison for his trial before Nero, the insanely evil Caesar who relished torturing Christians and watching them die. But if the prospect of a painful and grueling death bothered him, it is not at all apparent in his little letter to the Philippian believers. Throughout the epistle he speaks of joy, even at dying! Nor did he allow his bleak prospects hinder him from being grateful to this little community of believers who remembered him in his lonely isolation.

The Philippians were like most of the first generation Christians in the first century. They tended to be from the lower strata of society, either desperately poor or slaves. Following Christ often resulted in their precarious financial condition worsening. Because Christians would not participate in pagan feasts nor offer sacrifices to false gods, the all powerful trade guilds blocked them from membership or expelled them if they already belonged. Without trade guild certification, shops were boycotted, goods not bought.

Despite their debilitating poverty and the increasing danger they faced from a hostile government, the Philippians unselfishly took up a collection to provide for Paul’s needs in prison. Paul was extremely grate-ful for their thoughtfulness, but it placed him in a very awkward position. The rules of friendship in the Roman and even Jewish world at this time demanded that when a gift was given, one of equal or greater value was expected in return. Paul was obviously in no position to provide even a token gift. While the Philippians were well acquainted with the apostle’s circumstances and knew full well he could not return a gift to them, this cultural expectation weighed heavily on Paul. How he handled it not only surprised but pleased the Philippians: Paul called on God to return their favor.

He wrote, “This same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NLT). Imagine that! Rather than a gift scraped together by a forlorn prisoner, the Philippians received a blessing that draws on the infinite resources of God Himself! This was more than the custom anticipated, more than a mere human could pay back.

While this sounds fantastic, this is one of those verses that has suffered from misapplication, with people treating it as a blank check to draw on heaven’s bank accounts. It’s not that this promise applied only to the Philippians and not to believers today. But it is not to be taken as an all-inclusive statement to be quoted and dispensed under the title “God’s big giveaway.”

No Exceptions
The Philippians heard this promise following their own sacrificial gift. They gave unselfishly from their poverty, with no expectation of any return. And this points to a fundamental difference in viewpoint from the New Testament days to the present in regard to giving. The Bible is clear that all God’s people were to contribute—no exceptions were made, regardless of an individual’s financial condition. The Bible, after all, was written by poor people, for poor people living for the most part in a poor country. Why was that? Because God pours out His blessing on those who honor Him. When we excuse a poor person from not giving, we are denying them the blessing that God intends for them to have. It sounds spiritual to pray, “Bless those who give and the one who cannot give at all.” The Bible makes no such allowance. The poorest, the widow and her mites if you will, are to share from their poverty.

Nor is this to be a token gift. The tithe was established as the standard but it was supplemented by numerous other giving opportunities. In the agrarian culture of the day, God demanded the first fruits. This offering was not just to consist of the first fruits harvested, but the very best. They were not to bring in bruised fruit, mangled grain or defective animals. They were to bring in the best. Only the best. In modern terms it would mean that when we receive our pay or pension check, God’s offering should be set aside before bills are paid, outings planned or the latest gadgets grasped in our hands. To look at most offering plates, it appears that God is relegated to getting the crumbs left over rather than the best.

True Wants, True Needs
It is also important to note that needs were to be supplied—not wants. We recall the children in our lives who each Christmas or birthday compose a long list of what they want. Seldom does a child ask for socks and underwear. Instead it is something that beeps, glows, shoots or can be dressed. But far too many never outgrow that same approach in their requests to God. Prayers are wasted for a parking place close to the door, a winning lottery ticket, a sports team to prevail. The wants of the moment eclipse the real needs. People may get what they want when praying for these things, but it is due more to coincidence than God’s intervention on their behalf.

It was when the Philippians offered their best at the point of personal sacrifice that Paul was able to respond that God would supply all their needs. Look at a homeless person as an example of how little a person really needs to survive. Go visit someone in the nursing home whose frail body makes every movement painful to discover how little is needed to have a spirit that rejoices in the Lord. After that, take a look at your petitions to God and ask yourself, “Is this what I really need?”

If you have unselfishly given to the Lord without concern for the bauble you can’t buy, you are ready to appropriate this promise. It doesn’t mean people will knock at your door with oversized checks. It does mean that with your heart in the right place, God will greet you with His wonderful provision. And it will be just what you need.

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By Major Allen Satterlee