Thanksgiving with “Mr. Boozer” in New York

Every indication pointed to the agreeable fact of growing interest. This boozer’s convention has become an institution peculiar to The Army, and quite befitting Thanksgiving Day for it does seem that nothing could be adopted in order to the promotion of gratitude that equals this great effort for the lost.

Early in the morning our searchers were on the wing, and their determination and love took them to the lowest quarters and darkest dens to find the neediest of men—yea, and the neediest of women, too, for sad to say, many women lose themselves in the maelstrom of debauch.

Ensign John Allan, of the Bowery, spread a net through the dark waters of that neighborhood, and of one hundred topers who breakfasted with him, about eighty lined up into a pitiful procession whose passage through the streets to our Headquarters spoke its lesson and cried to all: “Don’t touch booze!”

Neither the wretchedness of rags nor the repulsiveness of dirt deterred these eager, exploring souls, and once found, the quarry was bagged and whizzed away in an autobus to the spacious National Headquarters hall, the rendezvous for the day. Here the warmest of welcomes awaited them, and, after a little needed refreshment, introduction followed to a meeting so thoroughly suited to the requirements of the lowest that none seemed strange or out of place.

It is safe to say that neither in time nor eternity will the great work accomplished be effaced, and the language is too poor to describe either the wonderful testimonies or the marvelous results that were heard and seen in the meeting. In tense, moments men seemed to be breathless ‘neath the spell of the Spirit, and then pent-up feelings would break and weeping, laughter, and applause would follow.

Colonel W.A. McIntyre, with whom the idea of a “boozer’s day” originated some five years ago, was on the bridge and piloted the morning exercises to a grand success. His address upon “Jacob’s Ladder” was unique, and a multitude of men felt like placing their feet on the lowest rung (“transforming grace”) and making the climb to the topmost rung (“triumphant glory”), especially as they were made to feel that its bottom “touched the earth” just where they were, and then shown that ladder of Christ.

Boozers of the old day were called upon to witness, and their direct testimony clinched the truth. Hypothesis, assumption, and theory gave place to flesh and blood, and this only cleansed casement of a rebuilt spirit that was jubilant with its pulsing life and sense of complete victory over the demon Rum that formerly held debasing sway with all other forms of the destroyer Sin.

Restored, washed, redeemed, and clothed, there they stood in striking contrast to the wrecks of manhood that watched and listened. Varying in language and dissimilar in style, yet one—absolutely one—in giving the glory to Jesus the Saviour, for the redemption known. Here the song of Justice the Jew, up from bumdom, agreed precisely with the polished utterances of Reynolds White, the erstwhile Captain in the U.S. Army, who had emerged, covered in rags and filth, from the same region of hopeless darkness until today when he stood rehabilitated and wearing upon his Salvation Army uniform the emblem of regained confidence just received unsolicited from the U.S.A. Government—the little ribbon of his restored office. He, after trying every known expedient, and having only met with the most dismal failure, had now tried and trusted Jesus, and the cure was complete.

Then from the army of hopeless there flowed a stream of men to the mercy seat until 108 penitents were asking help of God, who giveth liberally. Truly, “transforming grace” was at work as this multitude of broken men placed, with a trusting heart, a trembling foot upon the bottom rung of a ladder.

Salvationists on the Titanic

(This article originally appeared in The War Cry April 27, 1912.)

Together with a number of our Officers, I was with the relief staff at the wharf to meet the steamship ‘Carpathia,’ which docked with its seven hundred and five survivors of the ill-fated ‘Titanic’ at nine o’clock on Thursday night.

The scenes witnessed as the sufferers were brought ashore were too terrible to describe. Mind cannot imagine nor tongue express the deep pathos of the heart-rending meeting that took place between relatives and friends. Mothers, children, husbands and wives called aloud the names of their loved ones lost, and strong men were overcome by their emotions.

Mrs. Abbott, a Salvationist in uniform, was rescued after five hours drifting on a raft, during which time her remaining two sons, aged 16 and 13 were drowned before her eyes. They died, I am assured like true Salvationists. Mrs. Abbott is now seriously ill in hospital. Owing to long exposure on the raft she was frozen up to the hips.

Mrs. Nye, a young Soldier, employed at the New York Headquarters, is also safe.

We have assisted a considerable number of refugees, and are taking care of several at the Training College and other institutions.Am working day and night for the relief and consolation of all. I have placed the accommodation of our Halls and Institutions at the disposal of the Mayor for this purpose, and am personally superintending The Army relief efforts.

I remained at the dock until after one o’clock (midnight). We served hot coffee and sandwiches for the workers at the wharf.

The General’s message is deeply appreciated. A copy was sent to President Taft, who has cabled his thanks to The General. The message has now been published. New York is stricken with grief. Rich and poor are united under one great wave of sorrow and sympathy. God has indeed spoken.

The General—who having himself crossed the Atlantic so many times, was profoundly moved by the news of the disaster—sent to America the message of sympathy to which the Commissioner refers in her cable. A copy is given below—

My whole heart is moved by this calamity; moved with sorrow for the dead among whom are some of my long tried friends; moved with sympathy for the living, whose loss can never be repaired, and moved in its deepest sources of feeling before that sudden and awful summons into the presence of God. I pray that it may speak to the multitudes of the reality and nearness of the world to come and the urgent and overwhelming necessity to prepare for it. God bless and comfort you all!

By General William Booth

With The America Troops Across The Rhine

(This article originally appeared in The War Cry January 25, 1919.)

For days the American troops were pressing forward in long khaki columns of infantry, supported and supplied by apparently unending trains of artillery, ammunition, and supply wagons—all splashing steadily forward through the interminable rain and mud on the Rhine, with Coblenz as the particular objective—and with this large body of troops were, of course, The Salvation Army workers, led by Staff-Captain Turner, and including Miss Van Norden and Captain Ladd, Captains Lockwood and Horgan and Adjutants Bayes and Case. The writer was also with this party as War Cry correspondent.

The small body of Salvationists, in spite of their war-torn trucks, managed not only to keep up with the troops but even get ahead and furnish, by the roadside, hot coffee (500 gallons at a time) to the wet, cold, and weary troops, and also in temporary huts to supply the boys with candy and other supplies—sometimes, even including the historic doughnut—also writing paper, pens, ink, and a place to write. Thousands of letters were written (which the Salvationists helped to make possible) on this march. Not alone were the bodies and minds of the soldier boys looked after, but meetings were held and many lads dealt with personally. Not only did the boys indorse (sic) the coffee and other physical comforts provided by The Salvation Army, but also their religion is well received—long lines of doughboys would stand reverently in the rain, cap in hand, while a blessing was asked before coffee was served, and in our meetings, perfect order was kept while the men joined heartily in the singing.

Finally, arriving in Coblenz, the party was joined by Lieut.-Colonel Barker and Fred Stillwell, and also by Ensign Anderson, Envoy Eddie Hodges and Lieutenant Florence Turkington. Plans were immediately made to start two huts across the Rhine, and a scouting party was made for this purpose.

Then came the calls at the huts in the Toul sector, where we found meetings, in most instances, going on or being prepared for. Particularly inspiring was the work we found at Meil la Tour, where Ensign Hinshaw was just finishing his meeting with nine soldiers at the penitent-form, all of whom finally arose to testify to the saving power of God. Two men acknowledged that they had praying wives whom they knew had been pleading with God for them and whose faith and prayers had prevailed. That the men’s comfort in the hut as well as their souls’ welfare was looked after was evidenced by the rows of pie racks on the walls of a side room, also by the field range in a room by itself for the manufacture of doughnuts, and inquiry elicited the fact that there was system and efficiency in the “social” work of the hut—for instance, there were doughnuts Mondays and Fridays, pies Tuesdays and Thursdays, and cakes Wednesdays. System and efficiency in social matters and a penitent-form, lined with seekers for salvation and spiritual blessings—surely there is a connection here—a sequence and not a coincidence—that should be found wherever our Social and Spiritual Work exists together.

By Brigadier C.W. Bourne