An enduring faithfulness: How The Salvation Army shaped my town—and me
It was the fall of 1899 in my hometown of Monkstown—then known as Paradise Sound, a tiny, isolated community accessible only by boat in Newfoundland, Canada. The town had no church building and no regular full-time minister. In faith, the men of the town built a church. They called it the “Whosoever House,” and they said that the people of the town would adhere to the denomination of the first minister who came and was willing to stay.
During that time, The Salvation Army in the province of Newfoundland, Canada, operated a boat called the “Glad Tidings” that sailed along the coast, visiting tiny communities and sharing the gospel.
In the Spring of 1900, just a few short months after the men of the town built the Whosoever House, the Glad Tidings sailed into my hometown with officers and uniformed Salvationists on board. They held a meeting at the Whosoever House.
The following week, the people of the town sent a wire message to divisional headquarters and asked for an officer. Weeks later, an officer arrived, and for the last 123 years, The Salvation Army has remained the only church in the town.
The gospel message started with a few faithful Salvationists in a boat called the Glad Tidings and the good news and love of God have been faithfully shared for over a century in that small community.
It was here I had my spiritual beginnings, receiving love, support and encouragement from faithful, godly people. It was here, in this Whosoever House—now The Salvation Army—that I gave my life to Jesus as a 7-year-old in a Decision Sunday in Sunday School. It was here, in this small church, as a young child, that I felt God speaking deeply into my life.
I am grateful for godly people and faithful, godly officers who recognized that God was calling me, and like Eli in the story of Samuel, nurtured me in giving my “yes” to God.
In my hometown for the last 123 years, the glad tidings of God’s love have been shared in many ways. It has been faithfully preached from the pulpit—but even more effective have been the practical acts of kindness shown to family, friends and neighbors who never come to the church.
Over the years, this small corps has produced many officers—every one grateful for our humble, yet God-ordained beginnings.
My attraction to this church was not because of its décor; it was simple and plain. My attraction was not about its many offerings of video and technology; there were none. My attraction was not of its crowds of people; it was a small congregation.
My memories that I hold dear, and helped mold and shape me, were the godly people, some educated, some not, who gave testimony to God’s work in their lives. It was the officers who showed an interest in a child who God was calling and nurtured me in my childlike faith. It was the singing and preaching that I remember, and the weekly invitation for a deeper commitment to God and/or a first-time decision.
As a child and teenager growing up in this small corps, the attention given to the youth was marvelous—from Sunday School, Junior Soldier classes, Corps Cadets, youth group and “YP” meetings. As children, we found our place!
I know times have changed, and our methods have changed, but as I think of my beginnings in this tiny corps in Newfoundland, I am reminded that there are some things that never change. Our need for godly connections has not changed. We all need to find our place. Our need to be taught the truths of Scripture has not changed. We need to be people focused on the Word. Our need to be invested in and to invest in others has not changed. We need to find our purpose.
We have been created to love God and be loved by him. I’m grateful for my humble beginnings and for the godly people who influenced my life. Thank you, Lord, for inspiring the men of the town to build the Whosoever House that became a beacon and a place of transformation for so many for more than 100 years.
Due to out-migration in some of our coastal communities in Newfoundland, my home corps officially closed as a corps last year. However, the faithful members have found their place in other Salvation Army congregations and continue to let their light shine. They continue to let the Glad Tidings ring, and for that I am grateful.
- You’ve probably seen the red kettles and thrift stores, and while we’re rightfully well known for both…The Salvation Army is so much more than red kettles and thrift stores. So who are we? What do we do? Where? Right this way for Salvation Army 101.
- Could you use a meeting with God not to get more from him, but to discover more about who he is and his heart for you? Get inside the Caring Magazine Scripture Study Collection and find a suite of free, printable Bible studies to help you start your day with hope, meet God over lunch or end your evening connected to your Creator.
- Could you use a good word from the Good Word? In this episode of the Do Gooders Podcast, Commissioner Dave Hudson asks “will others see Jesus in you?”