General John Larsson preaches at the welcome meeting to the International Conference of Leaders
‘General Evangeline Booth’, as portrayed by Carol Jaudes
General John Larsson is the international leader of The Salvation Army
From the Top: Go Into All the World
by General John Larsson
There were two Generals of The Salvation Army in the Centennial Memorial Temple, New York, on Friday 30 April 2004. The occasion was the public welcome meeting for delegates to the International Conference of Leaders – a gathering of the leaders responsible for the Army’s work in 109 countries. One General was yours truly and the other was General Evangeline Booth – the fourth General, daughter of William Booth – brilliantly played by Carol Jaudes.
‘General Evangeline’ reminded us of the song she had written when she became General in 1934. We sang it as a congregation. The words and music resounded through that most classic of halls where she had so often preached:
‘The world for God! The world for God! I give my heart! I will do my part!’
The song set the scene not only for the meeting, but for the conference that was to follow. We were reminded that Jesus wants his followers to be citizens of the whole world – not just people concerned about their own small corner of it.
The title of this magazine is a quote from Jesus himself. His final call to his disciples was: ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation’ (Mark 16:15, New International Version). And they did.
Of course their world was smaller than ours. They only knew part of it. But I have stood in the chapel in Chennai, India, where, according to tradition, Thomas – yes, the doubting disciple himself – lies buried. Thomas took his Lord’s command literally to go into all the world.
Today the whole world has been explored. The world has become bigger – the population is now estimated to be 6.3 billion. And yet modern means of travel and modern technology have at the same time made the world smaller. Imagine trying to explain the Internet to one of the 12 disciples!
And the call of Jesus remains the same: Go into all the world! The Church today is taking that call very seriously. The Christian Church has grown amazingly in the past 30 to 40 years. So has The Salvation Army. It is larger today than ever in its history. Every Christian – every Salvationist – is called to be a citizen of the world.
Sometimes the vision dawns slowly. ‘Kate, I have found my destiny!’ exclaimed the young William Booth to his wife as he returned to his west London home one evening. He felt that his destiny was to take the good news to east London. He formed The East London Revival Society. But God wanted William Booth to be a citizen of the whole world. ‘Go into all the world,’ was his call to William Booth. And William Booth heard it. He saw the vision. The East London Revival Society became the Christian Mission – and then The Salvation Army. And it began spreading around the world.
The early Korean, Chinese and Japanese Salvationists had trouble translating ‘The Salvation Army’ into their languages. They called it the ‘Save the World Army’. And how right they got it! For that is The Salvation Army’s mission – to go into all the world.
Of course, the world starts right outside our homes. Salvationists know that. There are people just around the corner who need to hear the good news and see it in action. But God wants every Christian to be a world citizen as well – and there are large tracts of the world where the good news has yet to be heard. God wants every Christian to be a stakeholder in the evangelisation of the world. And when we cannot go ourselves, we can pray for and support those who can.
General Evangeline made sure that her song was not just a vague hope and a splendid vision about ‘the world for God’. She wanted those who sang the vision to commit to its realisation. Had she really been present in the Centennial Memorial Temple that evening in April, she would have been moved to the depth of her being as the words echoed around the hall: ‘The world for God! The world for God!’
And no one who was there will ever forget the musical and spiritual climax as everyone present, with full-throated singing and hands raised, declared before God: ‘I give my heart! I will do my part!’