Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The ex-officer is still a child of the Army.

Saturday, August 22, 2015
The ex-Officer still belongs to The Salvation Army


“The  ex-officer, no matter what was the cause that resulted in his loss to our fighting forces, is still a child of the Army.… He received the spirit of officership, whereby he mingled amongst us, for a season, as one of us, and go where he likes, and do what he likes, the imprint of the life he lived will remain. Time will not efface it; sin even will not blot it out. So that in a sense which we ought ever to remember, the ex-Officer still belongs to The Salvation Army.” William Booth

A ‘former’ officer, now a senior executive in the secular world, on learning that the SA was issuing invitations to a territorial retreat geared to ‘formers’ contacted the FSAOF:
“The SA really doesn’t have much to say to me or any other former officer unless it issues first of all in the form of a long-over-due apology to me and thousands of others, and to offer us a seat at the table in order to tell them where they got it wrong. They need to learn of our individual struggles that ensued as a consequence of our being released without proper care or consideration– 18 years of officership and not even a letter of recommendation to land me an interview?”

In our response to a territory’s intent to host a ‘formers’ retreat we all need to be on board recognizing what the FSAOF’s expectations are of the SA host. We want an assurance that they’ll share in a discussion of the criteria of assessed needs to be provided the departing officers with particular focus on their: mental, emotional, physical, social, spiritual and economic well-being. The reasons for their departure, their individual issues and motives, should have no bearing or effect on the Army’s moral obligations.

I would totally agree with this! We had a sterling quality ministry and love for souls. We were misunderstood, and because our emphasis was “soundly saved and sanctified souls”, and not fundraising, our DC did his best to get rid of us. Our reputation is fine with the SA in regards to doing anything wrong. Our DC was a ladder climber for position, and we are thankful we got out of his way. We have not ever left our ministry and calling. God has used us in other vehicles of ministry. This past year we were able to bring 12 new families with both father and mother,
and children to join a church we were attending. God brought these people to know the Lord through an adult class. We were so humbled and grateful that His powerful ministry still does its saving work. We wish the SA no ill will and love the doctrines and all it stands for. We just gave up our Officership because of the destructive powers of human frailties and weakness. 
God called us away from the SA and we left. We hope someday the Salvation Army will realize the huge loss to their ministry, and God's mission to save souls and go for the worst. There are many wonderful people who trusted in the SA to go out to the fields for harvest. It is time for Salvation Army to get on its knees and ask forgiveness, and make things right.


For some ways people have been treated in the precious movement known as The Salvation Army, they deserve an apology. This is not about me. The Salvation Army doesn’t owe me anything, but I know quite a few others that would do well to receive an apology.

Is it the movement that has offended? Sometimes. There are systemic flaws that affect people and do harm. More commonly, there are individuals in The Salvation Army that have hurt others in the name of The Salvation Army, and they need to apologize.

If that’s you and you’re in the Western Territory, please trust me enough to contact me and see if we can give you the apology you deserve. We may not be able to fix the situation, but we may facilitate the healing. I believe that’s what Jesus would do.

THE FSAOF Facebook page Oct 2 2019

It took me so long to come back.... When I met my husband we were serving in different denominations as missionaries  (I was a SA officer RN in Pakistan) and met high in the Himalayas . We were older, not much time left to have children. Someone from IHQ said John could come back to England and be a candidate there - there being no SA where we were.I was only visiting to study. So we married and he completed his contract with the Church Missionary Society. We returned to the UK and were envoys while John was a candidate. We had a divisional farewell for him to go to the ITC. Then we heard nothing. (systemic flaw) So I asked the D.C. He contacted NHQ to be told that Commissioner Cachelin had changed the upper age limit -systemic flaw - very recently. John was now a few weeks too old. We did continue as envoys for a while, but some of you in the UK will remember the storm of 1987. It destroyed the SAhall and the corps closed. No one offered us any support. It took me almost 30 years to face coming back. MW

Monday, September 30, 2019

There are no atheists in a situation like that!

When my parachute ripped and I fell thou­sands of feet to earth, you'd better believe I was crying out to God — you don't get many atheists in a situation like that! And maybe my prayers were answered because the surgeon later said I came 'within a whisker' of total paralysis.       
       Eighteen months later, as I stood on top of Everest mesmer­ised by the incredible curvature of the earth from the top of the world's highest mountain, it was just natural to feel, 'Wow, God, you made all this?' I guess that is worship. And what a privilege to climb mountains with the One who made them.
       My Christian faith has so often been a quiet backbone to our life as a family and through my work. 

      When I took President Obama into the Alaskan wilderness for an episode of Running Wild, it was a special moment to finish the adventure by praying together. Out in the wild you discover pretty quickly that even the most famous, extraordinary people are asking the same questions and looking for the same things in life as all the rest of us. 
       It was another president — Abraham Lincoln — who once confessed, 'I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.' Smart and humble man.

Bear Grylls

Friday, September 27, 2019

Call the Midwife I.

William Booth Memorial Training College - London
Margaret Watson 
College Brigade 

A soldier of Christ, still in the fight. 

Flying  Solo 1971

O.K. not exactly flying. I was on a bus, one of the wonderful red Route Masters heading for Dalston Junction. Crawling along if truth be told. But we got there eventually – me and my bag. My first ever solo home delivery awaited. All I had was a name and an address and the contents of my bag. That and a few months training. 
The address was on the very edge of our district so I hadn’t been there before. It turned out to be a maisonette in a newish block, probably built on a plot where a German bomb had removed the previous building. Dalston wasn’t yet the trendy area it was going to become. The block stood alone among derelict industrial units, a guard dog was tied to the gate and there was a stale smell from some broken sewer nearby. But someone had planted a rose bush and the nets at the window hadn’t yet acquired the usual grey look. 
The lady was beautiful in a slightly faded way, with dark hair and huge eyes in a Spanish dancer sort of appearance, enhanced by the large hooped earrings she wore. Not young. She already had eight children . 45 or so, she was a bit vague, so probably even older. The children who still lived at home peered round her skirts. She grabbed her handbag and pulled out her purse. ‘Off you go Josie. Nurse is here now. Get this lot to school and we’ll have fish and chips tonight. You can get them on the way home – but don‘t pick holes in the paper and eat them in the street.’ 
The children disappeared within minutes after the usual ‘Can’t find my shoe!.’ and we got on with the job. Her name was Carmen – so the Spanish theme persisted. She hadn’t booked a delivery, or been to antenatal clinics or classes, because I think she knew that , at her age, and with blood pressure problems, a hospital delivery would be advised, or even insisted on. But then who would look after all those children? Josie was only about 12 and she didn’t look too bright, and in those days a baby meant ten days in hospital. 
‘I knew I was ready so I phoned.’ As far as Carmen was concerned that was all that was necessary. And after eight previous births she had everything required. A brand new pram blocked the hall. ‘I treated myself.’ The boys used the other one to bring home the coal from the railway tracks.’ 
Things progressed quite quickly. If all my home deliveries were going to be like this it would a doddle ( They weren’t, but that is a whole book full of other stories. ). After only two hours since the phone call James Conrad Tafferty arrived in a rush. He was a good size with lots of dark hair and a loud yell It was still only just after ten a.m. I tidied up, parcelled up the afterbirth , made and drank tea and said ‘I’ll be back about 2 30.’ And I was out of the door and heading for the bus stop. 
There was a clinic to attend , but well before three I returned. The children presumably were still at school. Carmen was drowzing on the bed with baby tucked up close . There would be no problems with getting him to take a feed. 
I hadn’t been in the house more than a few minutes when I aware that there was someone else in the next room. Just then the bedroom door opened and a young man, a boy really, about 15 , entered. He stripped off his shirt, then his trousers and he climbed into the bed. It seemed only seconds later and he was snoring.
‘Who is that?’ I asked quite shocked. 
‘Oh, don’t worry about him. It’s the baby’s father. He’s just finished his stint at the market. He bought home some lovely bananas.

Former SA Officer
Served in Pakistan and the UK

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Whitechapel was ‘home’and I liked it. 1991

A New World 
The van seemed to be backing down a slope and then it halted. Voices outside, men’s voices, many of them , but all I could see was a tiny slit of sunlight round the door frame. We’d been travelling for hours, me in the back balanced on a box, and surrounded by my worldly goods such as they were. 
The doors opened and I faced a large man, face with several days of stubble and grey hair straggling past, well past, his shoulders. He grinned.
‘Come on lady. Let’s get you out of there. There’s strawberries for tea.’ 
‘Tea’ was in large mugs, several with interesting chips, rather than the dainty tea cups I was used to, but it tasted great and the strawberries might have been rejects from the market, but we didn’t care. I had arrived. 
Above me the shiny new Booth House , opened by the queen not long before and , across the yard , towering grim heights of Victoria Homes. 
My bit was tucked in, just in front of the grim façade. A corridor of rooms designated as the Alcoholic and Drug Rehabilitation Unit, even if, in those days, we knew relatively little about dealing with either - at least we were trying. At one end my accommodation – the smallest dwelling I would ever occupy. A bedroom just big enough to take my bed and a squeeze past, a sitting room where two were a crowd, and a tiny kitchen, just wide enough to hold a Baby Belling,. Turn round and you were in a shower room and toilet. But however small, I was glad to get out of that van. 
I was in the strange position of being neither staff nor client. I was about to begin my training as a midwife, but as a qualified nurse, my presence in the unit meant that scheduled drugs needed could be kept on the premises. 
My midwifery training course wouldn’t begin for another three days. Time for me to get used to my surroundings. William Booth knew that men were unlikely to listen to the gospel while they had holes in their shoes, nowhere to sleep, and empty bellies. Victoria Homes had been built as a result. It accommodated about 600 men if my memory is correct, sleeping in long dormitories with very little space between the beds. It was awful to my eyes. Imagine trying to sleep with dozens of other men, snoring, screaming at night mares, delirium tremens and all the rest. But these men had been in the forces and it was warm and dry. Many actually said they preferred it to the shiny new building with its single room accommodation, something they weren’t used to, and didn’t want to get used to either. It was what they were used to.
But the new place was full too, with an every changing population, though some stayed for years. And then there were the others. The folk who slept in the deserted graveyard nearby. We could see their fires and night, and hear the fights, though in the day time it seemed deserted unless you looked very closely and saw a body lying flat in the long grass between the tombs, waiting until the alcohol wore off the its owner would rise once more in search of fresh supplies. 
Over the next weeks and months I listened to many stories. The men seemed to adopt me as a younger sister cum agony aunt. If I meet homeless people these days younger faces predominate, but in those days almost all the men had been to war – whether the Great War, the Second World War or Korea, or even some other long forgotten conflict. It didn’t matter. The result had been the same. They had returned home to be rejected . Someone else was sleeping in their bed. Or perhaps the house didn’t exist any more and no one knew what had happened to the occupants. Or they had just moved, and , with poor literacy rates, no one had written. I had many relatives who went to war, all seven of my uncles, but they came home to loving wives and sweethearts – not these men. And so had begun broken lives which had somehow collected, like debris blown by the wind, along the Whitechapel Road. 
Every fortnight or so a doctor visited – these men were not likely to register with a GP and so he came to them. On Sundays there were services in a dusty hall with a slightly out of tune piano and a very indifferent pianist. A mini bus would ferry some to nearby army citadels, but most didn’t go anywhere. 
On Tuesday morning I led sharing sessions. No one had to come and no one had to share, but many did. There were exceptions to the ‘I came home and’ stories. There was the prof who taught history at a local university. He could be fine for months and then out would come his purple shirt and he would be off on a bender which could last for weeks. He didn’t know why that shirt was such a trigger, but he wouldn’t get rid of it, determined that one day everything would be o k., and in the meantime we always found room for him. There was also Mike , a somewhat younger man than our average. Tall and much too thin, he had a ready smile and a gentle voice,. He was kind and made the perfect cuppa just when it was needed. He was qualified as a printer and was willing to teach others his trade, this being long before the automation of the newspaper industry and its move to Wapping. He was a husband and father, a son and an uncle, and somewhere out there his family were waiting for him. But he was also the only one I was physically scared of - when he thought his drugs weren’t going to be available doors would be smashed, chairs thrown, windows broken , even the reinforced ones, and just once he tried to strangle me to get the keys. 
It wasn’t a quiet place. You could hear the traffic whizzing by on the Whitechapel road, unaware of the lives existing so close to its kerbs. There was a faulty alarm which went off regularly and continued for hours, always beginning at three a.m. We were close to Middlesex Street , or Petticoat lane as it was better known. On market days barrows would begin to roll across the cobbles in the lane behind my bed head at an hour long before my usual getting up time. We were only yards for the London Hospital and ambulances wailed past at all hours. 
I had only visited London on two occasions before my arrival in Whitechapel. Then it had been the tourist sights. The statue of Boudicca, a quick tour of Westminster Abbey, a visit to the Stranger’s Gallery in the House of Commons, a walk along the Thames by lamplight in the evening. The theatres and museums were still there of course – the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square and all the rest. Carnaby Street and Kensington High Street were only a bus ride away. he Tower of London was only a short walk from my flat
But then and there the East End and its people were so much more interesting. If I came out of the front door to my right was where John Wesley had felt ‘strangely warmed.’ To my left, just past the Mission to the Jews, was the Beggar’s Bush, by then the unofficial headquarters of the Kray Gang, but outside which a relatively young William Booth had been invited to preach more than a hundred years earlier.
I was new to the Army, only having joined some three months before. I was new to Christianity, at least as a believer, only three years old, despite having gone to church all my life. 
I was also ‘home’and I liked it.
Margaret Watson
Former SA Officer UK

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Jesus recruited everyone to be involved in His mission

To be a disciple of a rabbi in a Jewish system, you had to be the best of the best. You had to jump through a lot of hoops for a temple rabbi to invite you to “follow me.”
It’s interesting that when Jesus started his ministry, he changed the reality of disciple making. He shifted the requirement from being about moral motivation, to himself being the motivation.
He empowered people who didn’t fit the established temple/disciple mould. He connected with “unclean people,” those whom Jewish society wouldn’t have allowed to get anywhere near the temple to worship God. For example, the tax collector, Matthew, would not have made the cut because his profession and the port where he collected taxes were a disgrace to the Jews.
Jesus called the disgraced Matthew to “follow me.” “Follow me” is what a rabbi says to the best of the best.
So, when Jesus called the worst of the worst to follow him, he sent a strong message to the Jewish religious establishment that the mission had shifted. It was now not only for the Jews, but for everyone. This not only showed Matthew how special he was to God, but even more radical, that he could be a respected missionary of the gospel and socially reconciled because of Jesus.
Jesus opened up the requirements for what it meant to be a disciple.
He simply saved and then sent, simplifying discipleship to what he originally intended.
Why did he do this? I believe it was for intentional missional strategy. He made this change because God’s answer to problem solving is involving all kinds of people.
Jesus recruited people who spoke the cultural language of those around them and didn’t let anything get in the way of his movement. He started a passionate and internally motivated kingdom movement, got rid of the movement blockers, and empowered people to share the good news that the Trinity would restore everything.
He recruited everyone to be involved in his mission without discrimination. In a Salvation Army context, the idea of becoming a disciple is similar to becoming a soldier. To become a Salvation Army soldier, you have to do soldiership classes, promise to live a high and moral life where you’re not going to drink alcohol and smoke, etc.
Here’s the problem: Jesus would make a great adherent. Soldiership not only excludes Jesus but it also excludes the majority of people within our society who don’t wish to make these lifestyle promises. Many people will say, “What’s the problem? That’s why we have adherency, which caters to people who don’t want a ‘higher calling.’ ”
However, this higher calling creates a two-tier exclusiveness, which Jesus opposed, and allows for unbiblical power and segregation problems within community.
The adherents in my ministry setting are as equally passionate and active followers of Jesus as our soldiers, except the adherents can’t become officers because they are not soldiers. They would argue that they are genuine soldiers because they have encountered Jesus, and he has transformed their lives to the point where they now partner in the mission of God.

Photo of Captain Peter HobbsCpt Peter Hobbs (centre) asks whether we have made soldiership too exclusive
So, I ask the question, is soldiership as it exists today similar to temple discipleship in Jesus’ day? A movement blocker? If so, how do we fix this?
Well, the answer is to be like Jesus: remove the blockage and model a different reality. Soldiership would then be something close to: Anyone who follows Jesus and acknowledges his presence in their life and who is part of our Salvation Army family on mission together is a soldier in The Salvation Army.
The benefit of empowering all people into a soldiership journey with Jesus like this is that it creates an environment of equality without condemnation, simplifying soldiership to what Jesus originally intended.
When soldiers are raised by being on mission with Jesus, we will also see a radical increase in spiritually mature apostolic and prophetic leaders in The Salvation Army—the type of leaders who pioneer movements.
I’m aware this is a controversial topic within The Salvation Army, but no more controversial than it was for Jesus when he introduced it to Judaism 2,000 years ago.
Imagine existing volunteers as partners in the mission. And those faithful adherent elders and leaders at our centres who have never been able to be soldiers because of a few lifestyle choices, now being seen as mainstream missionaries in The Salvation Army. Not only mainstream missionaries, but our future leaders and officers.
If ever the world needed a movement of soldiers it is now. The only requirement is Jesus, and he is enough. 
Captain Peter Hobbs is a corps officer at Bellarine Peninsula in the Australia Territory.

Reprinted from 
others Magazine (Australia).

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Who knew then, but God! BBC TV1999 (pt1)

(I came across this broadcast quite by accident this morning, and felt compelled to share its significance)

Two decades ago, and at many other times, The Salvation Army hosted the BBC broadcasts, Songs of Salvation. This is part one of three aired in  1999, and includes an interview with a Salvationist Cadet from South Africa, Kathleen Versfeld. She and husband Allister were professionals in  their respective secular fields but sensed the call of God to enter a new and challenging assignment; SA Officership.

Now, 20 years later the Versfelds are the Mission Development Officers at the Army's new mission and occupational therapy centre at Strawberry Field. 

I had the privilege, with 2 psychologists friends, (former SA officers) Jeni and Fred  Gregory visiting from the USA, and my wife (SA Major) Glad, to tour the impressive holistic, state-of-the-art facility two days ago. 
 The plans for this former John Lennon afternoon 'escape' will be shared in 2 weeks, and be featured on this blog site, and widely through various other media outlets.

Sven  Ljungholm