William Booth: Soup, Soap, and Salvation

Series: Preacher: Date: July 10, 2011 Scripture Reference: Matthew 22:34-40

34 – Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.

35 – One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with this question:

36 – “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 – Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

38 – This is the first and greatest commandment.

39 – And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

40 – All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

I have always loved to read—and when I was in the fifth grade attending W. B. Simpson Elementary School in Camden-Wyoming, Delaware I remember discovering a series of books that quickly became my favorite. Each book was orange like these—and each told the story of a famous American. After reading the first biography I was hooked. I read every single biography book that was part of that “orange series” in our school library. I read about Harriet Tubman and Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison and Stephen Douglas. Sometimes I would lay on the couch and read an entire book in a single afternoon. I remember feeling sad a couple weeks later when I discovered there were no more orange books to be read. I was drawn to the people in these books because not only were their lives interesting—they were also inspiring in that their example made me want to be like them. I guess this is one reason biographies are popular even with adults. We all learn best by example and the stories of great people tend to motivate us toward greatness.

I share all this because we’re using this principle here at Redland this summer to help us all get further along the “discipleship road.” And please understand—this is indeed a Biblical principle. In 1st Corinthians 4:16 Paul refers to it when he says in essence, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” Paul knew by experience that we can learn a great deal by studying the lives of other Christ followers and we’re applying this biographical principle of discipleship in two ways.

First, during our mass adult Sunday School classes in the month of July, we’re studying the life stories of the very first disciples—the first twelve people who strove to become more like Jesus.

Five Redlanders are each taking a turn and their schedule is in the SOWER.

The second way we are making use of this principle of discipleship is in this pulpit. For the next 7 weeks we are going to be studying the life stories of some more contemporary “becomers” famous Christians I have selected from that Great Cloud of Witnesses who have served Jesus in the past century or two.

  • Next week Bob Michael will fill the pulpit and tell us about William Willberforce, that great Christian who helped end slavery in Great Britain.
  • July 31st I’ll speak on the life and ministry of Dr. Billy Graham, who in my opinion is the greatest evangelist since the Apostle Paul.
  • The first two weeks of August I’ll be on vacation so on the 7th Roger Price will preach on the life of that brave German Christ-follower, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
  • On the 14th C.C. Day will preach on the life and ministry of a famous Christian who’s life calling was science. I’m referring to George Washington Carver.
  • On the 21st we may be taking Becca back to college so I’ve asked Pam Burdette to fill the pulpit, helping us to see what discipleship lessons we can learn from Corrie Ten Boom.
  • And then on August 28th, I’ll finish up our “Great Cloud of Witnesses” series by looking at the life of George Mueller.

So we have a lot to look forward to! I’m very excited about this study. In fact, I feel kind of like I felt when I first discovered that shelf full of orange biographies in the Library of W. B. Simpson!

This morning we are BEGINNING our series with a study of the life of William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. At the start I will tell you that I used three sources in my study.

  • Roger Green’s book, The Life and Ministry of William Booth, Founder of the Salvation Army.
  • Janet and Geoff Benge’s book, William Booth: Soup, Soap, and Salvation, and finally,
  • A cassette tape recording of four excerpts of Booth’s sermons. His actual voice is on the tape and I am so thankful for the loan of this tape from our own Tom Knox.

I’ll play a segment for you later—but it’s wonderful to be able to literally hear this great man of God preach well over a hundred years ago. Thank you Tom Knox!

Now—as an avid reader of biographies I have found that often the best way to learn from someone’s life—is to BEGIN by looking at the way they ENDED it. So this morning I want us to START by hearing a little about the events surrounding Booth’s DEATH. I think perspective may help you see the true stature of this particular Christ-follower. General William Booth died on August 20, 1912 but his son, Bramwell said that instead of dying his father had been “promoted…promoted to glory.” I think that’s a great way for Christians to look at death for as Paul himself put it, death is GAIN for the believer. Life with Christ is good—but actually being WITH Christ is the BEST! In any case, ss you look at this picture of Booth’s funeral procession listen to this excerpt from Janet and Geoff Benge’s book:

“As the hearse made its way through the streets, a row of cars filled with reporters and photographers formed in line behind it. The motorcade drove slowly through the winding streets. At each police station it passed along the route, all the lights were turned on and rows of detectives, inspectors, and constables stood bareheaded…in a silent tribute to the general who had commanded a worldwide army. By the next morning a banner hung in the front window of the international headquarters of the Salvation Army. It read, ‘THE GENERAL HAS LAID DOWN HIS SWORD.’ Booth’s body lay in state for three days, during which time 150,000 people from every walk of life came to pay their respects. Over a dozen heads of state sent wreaths—and messages of sympathy addressed to the family arrived from leading men and women from all over the world. It is said that the queen herself attended in cognito. Her husband, King George VII wrote, ‘Only in the future shall we realize the good wrought by him for his fellow creatures. Today there is universal mourning for him. I join in it.’ American President William Taft sent a message that said, ‘In the death of your good father the world loses on of its most effective practical philosophers.’ The editor of The Daily Telegraph wrote, ‘It is certain that Booth belonged to the company of saints. We judge him to be one of the chief and most serviceable figures of the Victorian age.’ Booth’s funeral service was huge. Olympia Hall, where it was held, only held 40,000 and people waited for hours in the hopes of getting a seat. Many thousands were unable to do so. After the service the entire city of London came to a standstill for 4 hours as the hearse made its way to the cemetery. Mourners stood in silence as the procession passed.

Booth’s tombstone read: ‘William Booth; Founder and 1st General of the Salvation Army; Born 1829; Born again in the Spirit 1845; Founded the Salvation Army 1865; Went to Heaven 20th August, 1912’”

Okay—with that mental picture of Booth’s ENDING in mind, let’s go back and start at the BEGINNING. How did he become so respected and loved? William Booth was born in Nottingham, England. I think that’s interesting because like Robin Hood, Booth would spend his life fighting for the poor. Booth’s father, Samuel, had been wealthy but due to greed he lost it all. Booth said this of his father, “My father was a ‘grab and get.’ He had been born in poverty. He determined to grow rich; and he did. He grew very rich, because he lived without God and simply worked for money; and when he lost is all, his heart broke with it, and he died miserably.” Because of his father’s financial selfishness, in 1842 William had to leave school. His parents were now bankrupt and could no longer afford to send him. So, his clothes were packed and young Booth was sent off to work for a pawnbroker named Francis Eames. He was to be his apprentice for the next five years. Booth lived above the pawnshop outside of which hung a symbol like this—and learned the trade of pawnbroking—but it wasn’t that complicated. Poor people who were desperate for money would bring their possessions to the shop to sell. Mr. Eames would assess their value at about 60% of what the items were worth and give that money to the individual. He would hold the item for two weeks and if the customer did not come to buy it back by then, he would sell it for a profit. Of course most of his customers hoped that in two weeks they could get enough money to get their possessions out of hock—but few were able to do so. As Booth watched he noticed a pattern in these poor people. First they would bring things like clothing and umbrellas and furniture to sell. But as time went by these same people would bring more and more necessary things like dishes and tools until finally they brought their wedding rings and other precious possessions. You can imagine that this must have been a hard first job for a young man to have—but it helped instill in young Booth a compassion for the desperately poor. God would use Booth’s exposure to all this to help prepare him in advance for a very good work. Booth’s parents rarely went to church but they always made sure he and his sisters went so when he was out on his own he continued that habit and went to services in this church…Nottingham’s Broad Street Chapel. At Broad Street Booth heard some popular preachers like this man, James Caughey, a popular evangelist who was visiting from the United States. Booth was moved by his powerful messages—moved to the point that in 1844 he began to attend a Bible class for teenage boys like himself taught by a man named Henry Carey. One day Mr. Carey opened the class with this somber sentence, “A soul dies every minute.” The words penetrated into Booth’s heart and he realized that he needed the salvation that Jesus offers. He decided to become a Christian and afterwards said to himself, “God shall have all there is of William Booth” — a pledge that he strove to keep for the rest of his life.

Booth grew spiritually and two years later he joined a “club” of young Christian men, some of whom had been part of Carey’s class. This club would preach on the street corners of the poorest parts of the city. They called themselves, “The Mission” and it wasn’t too long before they looked to William as their leader. These early preaching opportunities helped mold Booth into a very skilled orator. I want you to listen now to an excerpt from a sermon he preached many years later. Listen closely.


TAPED SEGMENT Approximately 2 minutes


As you just heard, Booth was skilled at using STORIES to tug at people’s hearts and the seeds of this ability began to sprout when he was a young preaching member of THE MISSION. One day Booth was able to convince a group of poor men, women, and children who had heard him preach to come with him to church one Sunday at Broad Street. They reluctantly came and he directed them to seats at the front of the sanctuary. Now, understand…these were very poor people. Their clothes were ragged and dirty and as “street people” they had no access to bathing facilities so you can imagine their odor. One lady cleaned fish and came to church that day straight from work with her bloody, fish-scale-covered apron still on. Booth was certain that in spite of their appearance, they would be welcomed but that is not what happened. Not a single church member even spoke to Booth’s friends. In fact, when they passed men and women would cover their faces with handkerchiefs and turn away. On the way out the pastor asked if Booth he could have a word or two with him—and after seeing his friends safely home Booth returned to the pastor’s office where he was met by the pastor and five angry deacons. The pastor reamed Booth out and said, “It is not appropriate for you to bring the riffraff off the streets and seat them beside normal people…in rented pews no less. It’s going to take us a long time to get the smell of those people out of the building. The draperies will have to be cleaned professionally. That’s quite an expense just to have a few drunkards listen to a sermon.”

I’m sure this pastor and his pious deacons and church members are in eternity now…and I wonder if they’ve heard Jesus say words like we find in Matthew 25, “I was a stranger and you did not invite Me in.” (Matthew 25:43) In any case, later in his life Booth would look back on experiences like this…and realize that the best way to reach the desperate poor in his day and age was to go to them instead of putting them through “welcomes” like this one…but we’ll talk more about that later.

When his apprenticeship ended Booth moved back home and began to look for permanent work, but the employment rate was like it is in the U.S. these days in that no one in Nottingham was hiring so he moved to London thinking a big city would have more opportunities. He decided he could live with his sister Ann and her husband until he found a job and a place of his own. But, when he arrived he discovered that they were living in poverty themselves. His brother-in-law was out of work—and the worst thing is they were both abusing alcohol. A few years later they both died of that form of addiction and that would leave a mark on Booth as well. He would expend a great deal of energy reaching out to people with this particular problem. Eventually Booth was able to find a job—at a pawnbroker’s shop in the suburb of Kennington. He hated the job because it involved profiting from the misery of others…but he needed the income to help with the support of his mother and sisters. Everyday when he went to work he reminded himself that he did have something to look forward to. You see, after work he would take his Bible and go out and preach on the street corners. It wasn’t long before his enthusiasm for preaching was noticed by leaders of the Methodist church and they made him an official lay preacher. Shortly after that he made application to become a full-time Methodist pastor but in the interview he honestly said he wasn’t that interested in studying Greek and Hebrew. No—what he wanted to do most was work among the very poorest people in London…the people who had never set foot in a church but who needed to hear the Gospel. The Methodist leadership rejected his application saying they doubted his call to ministry on the grounds that he did not show enough interest in the intellectual aspects of Christianity. This caused Booth a great deal of frustration and he poured out his heart to a friend in the form of a letter saying, “How can anybody with spiritual eyesight talk of having no call…when there are still multitudes around them who have never heard a word about God, and never intend to, people who can never hear without the sort of preacher who can force himself upon them?” I can’t help but think of Paul’s words from Romans 10:14ff, “How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of Whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

With this passionate mind set Booth continued to preach to the kind of people who would never darken the door of an established church. He preached on street corners and anywhere he could.

Then in late March of 1852 Booth was invited to deliver a sermon at the Walworth Road Chapel. That night a millionaire named Edward Rabbits heard him and offered to support his full-time ministry for three months by paying him 20 shillings a week. Rabbits felt that Booth had a gift from God that should be used. Booth accepted Rabbit’s gracious support and happily quit his job at the pawnbroker the very next day. Shortly thereafter Rabbits introduced Booth to this young lady, a lady who would become his wife and co-laborer, a Miss Catherine Mumford. It was love at first site and a month later they were engaged. Later that year a splinter group off of the Methodist church known as the REFORMED METHODISTS offered Booth a job. They wanted him to become the pastor of the Spalding Circuit, a group of small churches in Lincolnshire located a hundred miles north of London. Even though Booth was used to open-air preaching—and even though it would mean he would be separated from his beloved Catherine for months at a time, he accepted. And—God blessed his ministry there. His preaching attracted new converts to those churches and most Sundays when he preached 20 or more people professed their faith in Jesus. Well, after 18 months Booth began to see—as many naive young pastors eventually do—that he was not educationally equipped for the job of leading a church day in and day out. He realized that NEEDED to study some Greek and Hebrew. He needed to study to show himself an approved workman…who rightly divided the Word of Truth…so he left Spalding and returned to London to attend a seminary—a seminary run by another group of Methodists known as the New Connexion. He continued to preach while in school and eventually was given the job of assistant superintendent of a group of churches in the London area. The income from this job made it possible for him to finally marry Catherine—three years after they had become engaged. They eventually had eight children—all of whom survived to adulthood—an amazing thing in that day and age. Here’s a picture of the Booth’s and their first four kids.

At this point I want you to know that, as so often is true with us, Booth allowed his strength to become a weakness. I mean, his passion for ministry was wonderful…but Booth was so passionate…so driven…that he allowed his ministry to interfere with his most important calling—that of being a father. The tragic truth is that Booth was eventually estranged from several of his children. We should learn from his mistake as people who live in a very “career driven culture.”

But let’s go back to the early part of Booth’s life so we can see a VERY unique thing about his ministry. When he was not able to preach, Catherine filled his pulpit…and masterfully so. In fact, eventually she became known as being as able a preacher as her husband. We must understand—this just was not done in that day…but the Booths did it. They understood that as Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” God blessed their pulpit partnership.Here’s a news clipping from The Wesleyan Times: “During the eighteen weeks Mr. And Mrs. Booth conducted their services in Redruth and Camborne…at least 3,000 souls were brought to Jesus. Since Mr. And Mrs. Booth commenced their evangelistic work in Cornwall 7,000 souls have been awakened and saved.”

In spite of their success Booth was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with working through established denominations….and that leads me to mention a very important principle…namely…the Kingdom of God is much bigger than any denomination. Don’t get me wrong, God works through denominations like our own…but He is not limited by them. God’s kingdom is not measured by the size of any denomination and Heaven will reflect this because when we get there denominations that so often divide believers, will no longer exist!

In 1863 Booth was hired to hold a series of tent meetings in London’s East End. And, as he traveled through that part of the city on the way to deliver his first message he was shocked by what he saw. Often as many as 40 or 50 people lived in one dilapidated row house. They had little or no running water and used the gutter as a bathroom. Every fifth store was a gin shop serving rotgut liquor to anyone who could pay. These shops even had special steps at the bar so that children, many younger than five, could step up and buy penny glasses of gin. It was not uncommon to see these kids passed out on the street or suffering the effects of Dts. You see, their tiny livers were much more easily affected by alcohol than those of the adults who callously introduced it to them. No doubt remembering his sister and her husband’s death…Booth’s passion to help these people grew. He saw that these people ere lost in poverty and addictions. They were literally dying in their trespasses and sins.

He learned that in this very depressed part of London there were over a million people living within a mile of his revival tent who had never once heard the Gospel message…and he was far enough along the discipleship road to know that their greatest need was to know that God loved them and sent His Son to die for them. Booth rightly believed that the Gospel would provide the foundation for them to change their lives so, when he got home after that first night he told Catherine, “I have found my destiny!” He realized that God had not called him to preach within a church. He was called to start his own ministry outside of church walls in which he would help the desperately poor. From then on that was his primary goal in life.

Unfortunately his ministry was not welcomed by all in the East End. For example, pub owners despised him because his sermons were hurting their business. Pimps didn’t like him either because with his preaching many prostitutes were leaving their profession. In short, people who’s business was sin—were not happy about all Booth was doing and this kind of opposition would continue. In fact opposition would be a big part of Booth’s life work. You see, he was the kind of guy who thrived on action. For example: sometimes when the crowd in the revival tent was too small, he would gather his converts, march them down to a pub and they would stand outside and sing hymns. They would sing until the drinkers inside would come outside to see what was going on. Then they’d invite them back to the tent for a service. As I said, this king of thing infuriated the pub owners so they would pay young boys to slash his tent or throw rotten fruit and other garbage at him but God provided help for Booth. A couple months later a brawny Irish boxer by the name of Peter Monk heard him preach and came to faith in Christ…after which he put himself in charge of security for Booth’s services. Well, eventually the tent was not big enough so they rented a warehouse on Three Colts Lane and Booth did all he could to draw the poor to his services. For example once he had his son Bramwell wear a sandwich board that said, “Come drunk or sober.” With unorthodox tactics like these Booth attracted lots of unorthodox people. His ministry grew such that by the end of 1868 the East London Christian Mission had 13 preaching stations with a total seating capacity for 8,000 people. In these packed stations various mission preachers working with Booth held 140 revival meetings each and every week.

The opposition he encountered seemed to fuel Booth’s passion. He launched a newsletter that often carried headlines like, “A Raging Mob Defied!” or “Lob Those Rotten Apples!”

Perhaps because of their struggle against pub owners and others who hated Booth’s work—in 1877 Booth and his fellow workers began to use military language in their publications. Posters were printed that said things like, “War! War! 200 Men and Women wanted at once to join the Hallelujah Army.” Another read, “The Middlesbro’ Artillery is to arrive at 9:30AM with their ‘big guns’ and ‘hospital’ for the wounded and all who want to be healed from sin.” People began to call Booth the “General” of the “Hallelujah Army” and he embraced that kind of thinking. To him it just fit the situation! By May of 1878 Booth’s ministry was officially called the “SALVATION ARMY.” After that the military language was seen in everything they did. Large mission cites were called “Citadels” and smaller ones “forts.” Groups of workers called themselves “troops” who together made a “corps.” Part-time workers over 15 years of age were called “soldiers” and full-time workers were referred to as “officers.” When they preached, the captains opened with shouts of “Fire a volley” which meant the audience was to shout out a stirring “Hallelujah!” In fact, let’s try that, “FIRE A VOLLEY REDLAND!” “HALLELUJAH!”

When it was time for every one to pray everyone was told to do a “knee-drill.” Their magazine was renamed “The War-Cry.” And they came up with uniforms to reflect their rank. The women “soldiers” even designed a bonnet with a tilted brim to help deflect flying missiles of rotten fruit and eggs. You can see it in this photo. Booth’s army adopted the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers” as their processional and this new military theme seemed to spur the group on to reach out even more boldly. In fact, soldiers and Captains often competed for the best way to draw a crowd. His son Bramwell Booth sometimes climbed into a coffin and was carried along the streets to St. Paul’s Cathedral by six men. Once they reached the steps he popped out of the coffin and preached a sermon on the text “O Death where is thy sting?” How would you like me to try something like that in Rockville? The “army” began using brass bands to attract people and this worked so well that it became—as it is today—a standard part of the Salvation Army. At one time they had 4000 such bands crashing and blowing their way along the streets of England’s industrial cities. They would take popular bar tunes and change the words to make them into a Godly hymn. Booth defended this practice by saying, “Why should the devil have all the good tunes?!” The Army began to grow such that it spread to other nations but they continued to suffer persecution—this time from the established church…simply because they reached out to the poorest of the poor. The sad truth is that rich people in that day—many of them Christians—did not like the idea of sharing a pew with a poor person. Even the hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful” reflected the popular sentiment that people should stay within their “classes” because that’s the way “God” had set things up. Back then they sang a verse that went like this: “The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, He made them, high and lowly, and ordered their estate.” Well, as I said, because of this mind set the army was subjected to even greater persecution. They were even pelted with rocks and dead cats. Most of the time the police looked the other way when groups attacked but in spite of this the Army continued to grow. The church always grows most in times of suffering and persecution!

By 1882 there were 440 Salvation Army corps on five continents with 1019 officers. Ten thousand copies of THE WAR CRY were printed each month. But that wasn’t enough for Booth. To get the word out as to the horrible conditions of the poor in London, he decided to write a book. About that time Henry Stanley had published his book In Darkest Africa chronicling the work of David Livingston. Booth borrowed that title and called his book In Darkest England And The Way Out. It sold over 200,000 copies making him the most popular author in England.

In 1890 Catherine Booth died of breast cancer and Booth threw himself into his work to assuage his grief. He used a new invention—the automobile to go on preaching tours both in the U.S., and in England. Remember, this was before roads. In one month he had traveled a bone-jarring 1,224 miles and addressed 164 meetings. He also traveled all over the world inspecting Salvation Army units, encouraging them in their work like the corps in San Francisco…that was among the first to help the victims of it’s infamous earthquake and fire.

All this led to Booth’s receiving great honors. Oxford gave him an honorary doctorate. He spent an hour and a half with President McKinley after opening the U.S. senate with prayer. George Bernard Shaw supported his work. Booth became friends with the British Prime Minister, William Gladstone. He even met with King Edward VII. When asked by the king for his autograph Booth wrote, “Your majesty, some men’s ambition is art, some men’s ambition is fame, some men’s ambition is gold, My ambition is the souls of men.” Toward the end of his life Booth’s vision began to fail. It got so bad he could barely see so they would hang white ribbon around the platform so he could preach and still wander. His final sermon was short and to the point. He ended it by saying “While women weep as they do now, I’ll fight; while little children go hungry as they do now, I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, I’ll fight; while there yet remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight…I’ll fight to the very end.” And he did.

Now—there’s a great deal we can learn from Booth’s life—much wisdom we can glean from the example he set as a Christ follower…but in my mind the most important truth we should see is this. I think Booth’s example shows that the two commands Jesus gave in our text are indeed tied together. We can’t say we love God—and not reach out in love to our fellow man. Once when he came home from a trip he told his son that he had seen people living under one of the bridges. His son said, “Yes father, I know.” Booth said, “You knew and did nothing?! Son, as Christians we must always help those we see in need.”And Booth was right. As Blackaby put it, whenever we see someone in need we should see it as God’s invitation to join Him in His work. If we love God—we’ll help others. It’s as simple as that. Yes—we’ll help them by telling them of His great love in sending Jesus—of course we will…but we’ll do more than that. We’ll show them God’s great love in our Christlike actions. This is why Booth led the Salvation Army to expand its ministry to go beyond holding revival services. They opened day care centers…and feeding stations where the poor could get a good hot meal…a bath, a place to eat, and clean clothing. They ran shelters for the homeless. They started the first labor exchange in England where men could go to get help finding a job. They provided 200,000 meals during a dock worker strike. The Army worked to successfully enact laws that discouraged prostitution. Booth even attacked the practice of factories that made matches with yellow phosphorus…using the yellow because it was cheaper than the red we see on our matches today. The red was harmless but the yellow was toxic and workers usually died from exposure. Booth opened his own “red” match business to help stop this cruel practice. I’m convinced that one reason the Salvation Army was—and still is—so successful is this fact that they understood the teaching in Scriptures like James 2:14ff where it says, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? Faith without action is dead.” They embraced a living faith—an active faith. They did all they could to literally become God’s hands and feet.

That kind of literal Christ-LIKE ministry down through the decades has drawn thousands of people to Christ. One example is the story of a Salvation Army missionary named Elizabeth Geikie who served in Nagercoil India during Booth’s later years. One day she heard a blood curdling scream and when she ran out of her hut to see about it she saw a group of men carrying another man. They laid him at her feet. He was in agony. She examined him and discovered that his food was horribly swollen because of a huge imbedded thorn. She had no forceps to extract the thorn and she couldn’t get a grip with her fingers…so, to the horror of those around Elizabeth knelt down, leaned forward, and placed her lips against the dirty, callused sole of the man’s foot.

Then she clamped her teeth around the protruding end of the thorn and slowly moved her head back. In this way she was able to remove the thorn. Then she bathed the wound and bandaged it.

The next day the same group of men were back and they asked her, “Why is it that you, a white woman, would want to save the life of a man by placing your lips, the most sacred part of the body, against his foot, the most despised part of the body?” She said, “Because my God, Who loves and values all men, asked me to do it.” After that the men began to clamor to know more about her God and soon they put their faith in Jesus. In my mind—that is the most important lesson we can take from Booth’s life. If we love God, we will love others—ALL others—and we’ll show that love in practical Christlike ways…doing good works that make people praise our Heavenly Father.



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