Learn From The Life Of Evangeline Booth
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
A thousand men proposed to her. She had offers from millionaires, farmers, businessmen, fishermen and vagrants. Even after her 70th birthday, proposals came in such quantities that her secretary did not bother to show her the letters. She was not an actress or a movie star, but she had a tremendous following of thirty‑eight thousand men and women, who became ambassadors of goodwill in 86 countries. Her name was Evangeline Booth and she headed the Salvation Army. After retirement, she swam and did fancy diving as though she were still eighteen. She was a tremendous woman–administrator, musician, and friend to thousands. When she was interviewed by a reporter, she said that her secret was this: “I live for others. My deepest desire is to make every person I meet a little better because I have passed this way.”
Another woman, who was a contemporary of Evangeline Booth, was Hetty Green, once the richest woman in America. She left an estate of $75 million at her death, yet she was one of the most penny thrifty women that ever lived. On a blistering summer day, a friend found her under a blazing tin roof in an attic the sun made the temperature almost unbearable. What was she doing? She was sorting colored rags from the white ones because the junk man paid a penny more a pound for sorted rags. She died and left a fortune, but no friends.
What distinguished Evangeline Booth from Hetty Green, and for that matter thousands of others considered important?
First—her generosity. She gave of herself. Her secret, so she told people, was to touch the lives of others so they were “a little better” because she had crossed their path. She gave of herself without reservation, without thought of what she got in return.
The second quality which distinguished her was her genuineness. She was authentic and unpretentious. Her clothes or her looks were never what people remembered. She was remembered as a person who radiated warmth and care.
The third quality which motivated her was the fact she had convictions and refused to take the path of least resistance. For a lad or a lassie to join the Salvation Army in Evangeline Booth’s day meant they were willing to commit to a life of simplicity and pledged to engage the enemy in spiritual warfare. The term “army” reflected the lifestyle of those who signed on, and without convictions—strong convictions—no person could boldly lead others.
The fourth quality which distinguished this woman was her desire to please God rather than herself. She often quoted the words of Paul from the King James text which read, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
The fifth quality which separated her from not only the women of her day but from the men as well is that she was her own person. Anyone who had the boldness to don a swimming suit in retirement and spring from the board as she had done fifty years before has to be secure, not caring a great deal what others might say.
I, for one, have a deep respect and admiration for those who have outgrown the “cookie cutter” mentality, including the trite phrases of their contemporaries and refuse to let the world force them into its mold.
May God give us more women who are as strong as Evangeline Booth.
Resource reading: Luke 9:1-6.