Monday, 6 October 2014

William Booth on Riches and Poverty

Firstly, we dare not withhold the Gospel from the very worst of people.

As Christ came to call not the saints but sinners to repentance, so the New Message of Temporal Salvation, of salvation from pinching poverty, from rags and misery, must be offered to all.

They may reject it, of course. But we who call ourselves by the name of Christ are not worthy to profess to be His disciples until we have set an open door before the least and worst of these who are now apparently imprisoned for life in a horrible dungeon of misery and despair. The responsibility for its rejection must be theirs, not ours. We all know the prayer, "Give me neither poverty nor riches, feed me with food convenient for me"--and for every child of man on this planet, thank God the prayer of Agur, the son of Jakeh, may be fulfilled.

This sad passage explains how respectable girls can become more entrapped than streetwise ones.  The story continues today, via the evils of sex-trafficking.

A girl was some time ago discharged from a city hospital after an illness. She was homeless and friendless, an orphan, and obliged to work for her living. Walking down the street and wondering what she should do next, she met a girl, who came up to her in a most friendly fashion and speedily won her confidence. "Discharged ill, and nowhere to go, are you?" said her new friend. "Well, come home to my mother's; she will lodge you, and we'll go to work together, when you are quite strong."  The girl consented gladly, but found herself conducted to the very lowest part of Woolwich and ushered into a brothel; there was no mother in the case. She was hoaxed, and powerless to resist. Her protestations were too late to save her, and having had her character forced from her she became hopeless, and stayed on to live the life of her false friend.

There is no need for me to go into the details of the way in which men and women, whose whole livelihood depends upon their success in disarming the suspicions of their victims and luring them to their doom, contrive to overcome the reluctance of the young girl without parents, friends, or helpers to enter their toils. What fraud fails to accomplish, a little force succeeds in effecting; and a girl who has been guilty of nothing but imprudence finds herself an outcast for life. The very innocence of a girl tells against her. A woman of the world, once entrapped, would have all her wits about her to extricate herself from the position in which she found herself. A perfectly virtuous girl is often so overcome with shame and horror that there seems nothing in life worth struggling for. She accepts her doom without further struggle, and treads the long and torturing path-way of "the streets" to the grave.

How poor people almost invariably become far more effective givers and 'fighters' than the rich.

How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of Heaven! It is easier to make a hundred poor men sacrifice their lives than it is to induce one rich man to sacrifice his fortune, or even a portion of it, to a cause in which, in his half-hearted fashion, he seems to believe. When I look over the roll of men and women who have given up friends, parents, home prospects, and everything they possess in order to walk bare-footed beneath a burning sun in distant India, to live on a handful of rice, and die in the midst of the dark heathen for God and the Salvation Army, I sometimes marvel how it is that they should be so eager to give up all, even life itself, in a cause which has not power enough in it to induce any reasonable number of wealthy men to give to it the mere superfluities and luxuries of their existence. From those to whom much is given much is expected; but, alas, alas, how little is realised! It is still the widow who casts her all into the Lord's treasury--the wealthy deem it a preposterous suggestion when we allude to the Lord's tithe, and count it boredom when we ask only for the crumbs that fall from their tables.

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