Monday, November 30, 2009

Bell Ringer Outreach

This weekend marks the emergence of the familiar Bell Ringers of the Salvation Army--At least here in the Phoenix area.

Each year I select both English and Spanish gospel tracts to hand out to them along with a short verbal history of the Salvation Army. I've found this to be a great ice-breaker since the organization was deeply interested in evangelism when it started. Many are surprised at the information.

Here is a brief excerpt from the Salvation Army's official web site:

William Booth embarked upon his ministerial career in 1852, desiring to win the lost multitudes of England to Christ. He walked the streets of London to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute.

Booth abandoned the conventional concept of a church and a pulpit, instead taking his message to the people. His fervor led to disagreement with church leaders in London, who preferred traditional methods. As a result, he withdrew from the church and traveled throughout England, conducting evangelistic meetings. His wife, Catherine, could accurately be called a cofounder of The Salvation Army.

In 1865, William Booth was invited
to hold a series of evangelistic meetings in the East End of London. He set up a tent in a Quaker graveyard, and his services became an instant success. This proved to be the end of his wanderings as an indepedent traveling evangelist. His renown as a religious leader spread thoughout London, and he attracted followers who were dedicated to fight for the souls of men and women.

Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards were among Booth's first converts to Christianity. To congregations who were desperately poor, he preached hope and salvation. His aim was to lead people to Christ and link them to a church for further spiritual guidance.

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