Ready to Embrace the Future

Soon after the High Council of The Salvation Army elected Brian Peddle as its 22nd General, effective August 2nd, he detailed with IHQ Communications Secretary Lt. Colonel Brian Venables his assessment of the Army, his hopes for it, and what has prepared him to “forge a path to the future.”

Lt. Colonel Venables: How did you come to The Salvation Army?

General-Elect Peddle: I credit my mom and dad, who were not Salvationists, but were uncomfortable with things that were happening in their local church. In obedience to God they started to go to the Army. Sometimes I would go along. Early in that experience they found a good place in the Army where they were welcomed and embraced. Before I knew it, we were attending!

I was used to a very quiet, formal liturgical experience. I was immediately taken by the music, by vibrant preaching. I remember the animated and enthusiastic preaching and the testimonies.

Because I came in between ages 14-15, I skipped some of the formative things that many of our Salvationists get to enjoy. Strangely, that was never an issue. I soon became a soldier and was sensing a call to officership. The rest is history as I now get to lead this incredible Army that gave me space and a spiritual home as an uncertain teenager.

I admit I was attracted, pulled in and warmly welcomed and embraced by corps officers and people who displayed God’s love and genuine interest in us. A month ago, I had the privilege of going back to that corps, Trinity Bay South, in Canada to lead the 125th anniversary celebrations. All I can say is that God is faithful.

Lt. Colonel Venables: What is your vision for the Army?

General-Elect Peddle: We come to this role at an excellent time, where the Army is able to work out of a position of great strength. Moving forward and moving from strength to strength—I come back to the phrase “forging a path into the future.” I am deeply aware that I need to be the 21st General for the 21st century.

We stand on the shoulders of many good people and we honor them. They worked with the issues of their day to build a great and much respected Army. We have to grapple with the issues in our day. We cannot be ambiguous about things that are of concern to our people around the world, yet we must do that within a reality marked by tremendous diversity.

The Army must again live up to its call to be mission-focused: every soldier, every officer accepting responsibility to be of value where we live. This means that the two significant aspects of our mission statement—preaching the gospel unashamedly and serving suffering humanity—need to remain connected.

One of my concerns is how we help our young people become disciples in today’s world. I’m concerned about those very formative years. My priority is to redirect resources to make sure we reinvest energies in our unique mission focus, engaging with our officers and soldiers while articulating as clearly as possible God’s present call upon the Army.

We are an international Christian movement. We cross many cultural boundaries and need to understand and respect the cultural context.

We live in a rapidly changing world. I intend to lead One Army, and keep that One Army intricately connected and focused so we continue to impact the world for good, by God’s grace and with the prayers and support of His people.

Lt. Colonel Venables: What is your view of the current state of affairs in The Salvation Army? 

General-Elect Peddle: I look to the Army—and confess my knowledge of it is substantial—and I see it, warts and all. We are not perfect, nor do we have everything right, but you would have to be a very pessimistic person to not see what God is doing.

I want Salvationists to believe that God is doing a new thing among us. I refuse to limit God or consider for even a moment that our best days are behind us.

What I would like to see is every junior soldier, every soldier, every officer engaged in the mission of the Army—winning souls, caring for suffering humanity and knowing that the Kingdom of God is growing.

Read the General-elect’s full interview in the August issue of the War Cry available a your local corps or subscribe at thewarcry.org/subscribe.

Andy Corley: CEO of Prison Fellowship International has Salvationist Roots

Both sides of my family are fourth generation Salvationists. I was steeped in Salvation Army culture in my home corps of Sheffield Citadel in England. I spent my time balanced between having an excellent childhood in The Salvation Army and passionately playing sports. At 18, I came over to Camp Ladore [The Salvation Army Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware Division] to work as a camp counselor.

I had a real heart for God during my childhood, but somehow, the personal relationship with Jesus had escaped me. When I was at Camp Ladore somebody challenged me about my own walk with the Lord Jesus. Then I heard Tony Campolo speak. One night three weeks later, I sat on a bench and just knew God loved me and He was there. I absolutely knew Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be and He died on the cross for me personally.

Many things changed but I was on a university track which I continued. It was apparent to me that whatever I did going forward, it would have to be heart and soul. I learned that from The Salvation Army.

Faith in the Marketplace

The first thing I realized was God loves excellence. Whatever your hand finds to do, you do it with all your heart, soul and strength. I found that the Scriptures were incredibly helpful. Proverbs and the Old Testament law have principles of how to work, how to create community, how to run our lives.

As I had more opportunities to speak about it, a strong desire grew in me to be authentic as a leader. The Scriptures talk about it: “Show me a man who’s skilled and his work is done before kings, not before obscure men” (Proverbs 22:29). When we look at excellence, we want to do everything to the very best of our abilities. Opportunities then open up, creating a space for that kind of a person.

Servant Leadership

When I was applying to be a director of a corporation that was worth close to a billion dollars, in the United Kingdom, I was interviewed by an industrial psychologist for a full day to work out whether I was competent enough. At the end of it, he pulled me aside and said, “You need to know something. Your stats are the equal in terms of competency to all the other directors. You definitely have what it takes. However, there’s a very strong servanthood element. You see leadership as being service.”

I hadn’t been conscious of this. I thought everybody thought that way.

What I love about Prison Fellowship International is that we are directly obeying things Jesus tells us to do. There are so few serving in this particular space to genuinely impact lives. Prison Fellowship International is able to do that. There aren’t many stories more powerful than when God meets a man or a woman in prison. It’s a moment of truth, where light meets darkness. It’s where justice meets grace. When men and women are transformed by Jesus, they have powerful testimonies. When you get a prisoner in front of you whose life has been completely turned around, there’s something that’s undeniable about it.

Prison Fellowship International

Prison Fellowship International is a family of independent national ministries in 115 countries. Each of those ministries is led by local people, who mobilize a huge number of volunteers—totaling at least 45,000—around the world. The Secretariat for Prison Fellowship International, based in Washington, D.C., brings together our regional directors, who reside in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America, as part of that team. We exist to serve the national ministries. We do that through, amongst other things, design and co-implementation of effective programs.

We’re doing the same thing with our children of prisoner’s program.

We have more than 4,000 children in eight countries, receiving support and one-to-one sponsorship. We also focus on reconciliation through our restorative justice program called the Sycamore Tree Project®. Based on the story of Zacchaeus, who meets Jesus and then goes through reintegration and restoration to his community. Something goes off in Zacchaeus’ mind. He understands that coming to know Jesus and coming into His Kingdom involves him in a personal transformation but also transformation in his own community. We’re turning offenders into peacemakers.

These programs are now active in 37 countries in different ways. Our ambition is to grow those three programs.

The Grand Vision

In ten years, I hope we will have spoken truth, been prayerful and unequivocally centered on the Lord Jesus in our individual and corporate relationships. Second, I hope as we grow and adapt we will be practical in our approach, and known to be outstanding in our field for what we do on the ground, whether it’s Sycamore Tree or the children of prisoner’s program. Third, I want us to be known for the ability to speak prophetically about what is close to God’s heart. What does justice really mean? What are the best practices for rehabilitation? Our prisoner systems around the world are groaning. They are broken. When people get into those systems, they rarely emerge better off. We believe we have a part to play in offering transformative solutions. When I talk about the strategic genius of Jesus, that’s what I mean. That’s why He tells us to visit people in prison. That disconnection from the community is what keeps people locked in cycles of crime. It’s not the only thing but it’s a major thing.

We face the challenges of enough resources. It’s for us to figure out how we can attract people to partner with us. We work in a hard landscape. There are disappointments, particularly when people fail. We’re rubbing shoulders with broken people. But it becomes a beautiful thing when people’s lives are transformed.

Read the full article in the August issue of the War Cry available a your local corps or subscribe at thewarcry.org/subscribe

— As told by Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee, Editor in Chief and National Literary Secretary

Raising Up Child Saints & Soldiers


“The importance of the junior

work is in my estimation so great
and so nearly allied to the
goodness, happiness, and godliness
of the next generation that were
I not burdened with so many toils
and anxieties, I would
gladly devote the rest of my days to
the promotion and welfare
of the young people.”

— William Booth

Chicago, Illinois. October 1907. At age 78, William Booth was growing weary after preaching night and day during his final worldwide tour. Despite this, he pressed forward, seizing every opportunity to preach the gospel and inspire the saints. One afternoon, his daughter, Evangeline had persuaded him to lie down on a sofa in an upstairs room to get some rest. After her father promised not to move, Eva went down to prepare him a cup of tea. Hearing the sound of footsteps across the kitchen ceiling, she returned to the room to see the General pacing restlessly, his face wet with tears. “I’ve been thinking of all the sufferings of little children, the children of the great cities, and I can’t rest, I can’t rest!”

In Nottingham, England at the age of 16, William began preaching on “Kid Street.” There he attracted children living in abject poverty and marched them through the front doors of Wesley Chapel, seating them in the best pews. His heart broke on hearing that these “outcasts” would only be permitted entrance to the chapel through the back door and to sit on obscure benches hidden from view of those paying for their seats. It was then that the future founder of The Salvation Army decided that children would have a prominent role in his ministry.

Catherine Mumford the future wife of William Booth, first experience with youth was when she led a Sunday school class of young women between the ages of 12 to 19. Little did Catherine know that sowing the seeds of transformation and mission in these young leaders would reap a harvest of hundreds of thousands of women who would embrace their calling in childhood.

Young Souls Their Priority

When William and Catherine Booth launched the East London Revival Society in July, 1865, East London’s children, known as “street urchins,” had to fend for themselves as their parents worked 16-hour workdays. Alongside physical malnourishment, their resilience to survive despite an absence of nurture forced them to grow up quickly and band together to fend for themselves. East London was teeming with hundreds of children who would invade the streets by day and populate the rooftops by night. In the Limehouse district, a “penny gaff” was opened—a nickelodeon-style theatre designed to entice children into alcohol and drug addiction, gang activity and child prostitution. The Gaff would regularly be raided by London’s police, only to resurrect within 24 hours by another adult ready to capitalize on the exploitation of lost boys and girls.

While the Society grew into the East London Christian Mission, the Gaff represented one of the notorious fortresses of darkness in which the devil was recruiting the lives of “the last, the lost, and the least.” This infuriated William and Catherine, who hatched a plan to wage war for the souls of these children. In September 1868, the Gaff was once again raided by the police, and the Booths bought the enterprise, using most of the budget of the East London Mission! They transformed the penny gaff into the Limehouse Mission Station. It was one of their most significant victories and inspired a young Thomas Barnardo to meet with William at the Gaff to seek permission to create the East London Children’s Mission.

The Booths placed their chief Secretary of the Mission, James Rapson, in charge of their own Children’s Mission and had their older children, Bramwell, Kate, Ballington and Herbert join as young leaders. Rapson stayed with the Mission until 1872 and helped grow a variety of children’s outreaches including feeding programs, ragged schools and Sunday schools. Carried on by Mary Billups and eventually the young Booths, these initiatives continued to evolve into a thriving part of the Christian Mission.

From Sham To Salvation

The “new measures” of revivalism, which influenced the strategy of the expanding Christian Mission, placed transformation as the evaluative tool of every innovation. By 1875, an internal conflict erupted—driven primarily by the methodology employed in Sunday schools. Some evangelists were willing to settle with reducing Sunday schools down to literacy training and didn’t place value on the transformation of the child. This “sham” approach was inoculating children from that possibility of true salvation by providing them a surface knowledge of the gospel which did not penetrate the root of their spiritual and moral identity. Realizing this was presenting a mirage which appeared like an oasis, but left children spiritually disillusioned, was for William and Catherine tantamount to a crime against humanity. The Booths chose to ban the use of Sunday schools until a better strategy could be deployed. To be clear: they did not prohibit children from the mission, nor the study of the Bible—but rather an inefficient and ineffective methodology.

This line in the sand fueled a reevaluation of the entire Christian Mission and led to a three-year search for a new model which would place salvation at the center of every aspect of the organization. Unveiled in 1878 as The Salvation Army —the restructuring helped lock transformation as the absolute non-negotiable of the movement. During this time, Catherine wrote on the value of children, but the right model for scaling children’s work had not yet emerged.

It was only in July 1880 in Blyth, England, when a young Captain John Roberts discovered the solution. Roberts was holding successful meetings, filling the biggest buildings in town. The challenge of space led him to put up a sign prohibiting children from entering the meetings so as many adults as possible could attend. When Roberts turned away two children seeking salvation, the Holy Spirit opened his eyes to the absurdity of this strategy—and permanently turned his heart towards the forgotten children.

Roberts begged the children to come back and began to hold meetings exclusively for youth. That same hall was filled with hundreds of children who, when the invitation for salvation was given, came forward to the Mercy Seat and were wholly transformed by the blood of Christ and empowered with holy fire of the Spirit. Roberts witnessed these children getting saved and sanctified.

Little Soldiers Saved and Enrolled

His is practical training with adults had taught him that as soon as a person was saved, they should testify, be given a job and made a soldier in the Army. The love for these young neighbors and the logic of applying the same methodologies as adults led him to enroll these “Little Soldiers” and employ them in the battle to reach the next generation.

When his divisional commander, Major James Dowdle saw the incredible work that Roberts was doing, and knowing the Booths’ insatiable search for a new method, he telegrammed headquarters to report on this innovation. Roberts was immediately appointed to headquarters to scale Little Soldiers throughout The Salvation Army. Everywhere that an adult barracks existed, there would now also be a corps of Little Soldiers. An exclusive newspaper called The Little Soldier was launched, stylized to reach the next generation. For the next two years, William Booth would publish almost every week writings on the value of children, eventually publishing these as The Training of Children; or How to Make the Children into Saints and Soldiers. This was considered scandalous—with many both in and outside the church thinking The Salvation Army had gone too far. Yet these very children would become leaders who would spread salvation to every corner of the world in the decades to come. In an era when children were to be seen and not heard, the Booths placed them at the center—as Jesus modeled in His own ministry. Alongside gender, class and ethnicity, age would not limit any individual from playing a role in the salvation of the world.

There is much more to the story of children and youth in The Salvation Army, but these initial steps laid the groundwork for the movement to be reinvented generation after generation. The Salvation Army rejects the strategy of waiting until children have grown up to see them saved, sanctified, equipped and mobilized in the salvation war. William’s words continue to echo through time to continue to speak to us today:

“Little soldiers, My heart turns to you! How can we have a successful Army and leave the children out? We have been so busy that I am afraid you have been neglected. We must do better. We must have a real Army of little soldiers… We will join hands and hearts—and we know that Jesus will join hand and heart with us also—to make a real conquering little soldiers’ Army.”  

— Envoy Steve Bussey and his wife, Sharon, are the co-directors of Salvation Factory in the USA Eastern Territory.