Katie Booth the Marechale

This is the day that … The Marechale was born, in 1858.

She was the second child of William and Catherine Booth … and she, too, was named Catherine (but usually called Katie).

At the age of 22, she was taken to Paris by her mother and left there with a small group of equally young women to introduce the Salvation Army (of which her father was the “General”) into France.

Within a week she was “sworn at, jeered at, and pelted with stones and mud …” But her incredible tenacity and sincerity of purpose gradually won through. They nicknamed her “La Capitaine” at first … and then “La Maréchale” (the Field-Marshall).

The first meetings in Paris were in a dingy building in a rough quarter, where, as the Police Sergeant described her crowd, “They have got in that crowd half the cut-throats of Paris”. Yet these hardened men were dazzled by the innocent and dedicated zeal of the young ladies pressing upon them a gospel which their religion-hating culture had denied them.

After no result from exhausting effort a Christian lady advised Katie to return to her mother in England. The reply came, “If I cannot save France, I can die for it!” Young Catherine won her first convert by going to an old washer-woman at the back of the meeting, hugging her and telling her how much she loved her.

With the assistance of a dozen other young maidens under her remarkable leadership – ever in the forefront of the battle for souls – the Maréchale planted the Salvation Army also in Switzerland, Belgium and Holland.

On 8 February, 1887, she married Arthur Sydney Clibborn (the “Hallelujah Quaker” had been his nickname when he first joined the Salvation Army!) – and the couple were known as the “Booth-Clibborns”. Ten children were to be born in the next 15 years.

Then came the clash of personalities – General Booth laying down certain laws … to be implicitly obeyed … and Katie and her husband refusing to do so. It is a sad story …

Clibborn was a pacifist and he sided with the Boers in South Africa during the Boer War. He also wanted to preach divine healing and the imminent return of Christ; two themes which echoed through the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements which followed during the twentieth century. The Booth-Clibborns became followers of Scottish born preacher, Dowie, who believed himself to be a modern-day John the Baptist. Downie published Clibborn’s endorsement and that brought great tension with William Booth.

On 10 January, 1902, the Booth-Clibbons resigned from the Salvation Army. Ten years later, when her father lay dying – and blind – she was allowed into his room “on condition that she would not say who she was” (The Heavenly Witch, by C. Scott, page 217).

On 20 February, 1939, she was widowed, and on 9 May, 1955, she herself was ‘promoted to Glory’.

Despite her severance from the Army’s ranks over half a century earlier she never slowed up in her quest for souls.

Her fare to Australia (in 1936) was paid for by Dame Violet Wills, a member of the tobacco family … although Dame Violet was ironically, a campaigner against smoking.

After meeting the Maréchale John Ridley wrote:
I trace thy fervent feet
to many a haunt of Hell;
And hear thy voice so sweet
The gospel message tell;

And sinners in their shame
And women of ill fame
Will ever bless thy name,
La Maréchale.
(The Passion for Christ, page 72).

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

Fredrick Franson from Sweden to the World

This is the day that … Fredrick Franson died in Idaho, Colorado in 1908.

Born in Sweden on 17 June, 1852, Fredrick grew up in a Christian environment. His family emigrated to Nebraska in 1869. At the age of 20 he was converted after reading Romans 10:6,7 and was later baptised in the Swedish Baptist Church.

It was, however, the reading of Romans 10:6,7 that led to his conversion. By this time he was 20 and had emigrated to America.

He worked as a counsellor to enquirers at some of D.L. Moody’s meetings, and became a member at the Moody Church, Chicago.

By the age of 23 he was involved in missionary work among entire communities of Swedish speaking folk in Minnesota. He was seen as a missioner to the Scandinavians in the same way Moody was gifted for reaching Americans.

Ministry in Salt Lake City led to his writing a 212-page book – Mormonism Unveiled, discussing 70 texts the Mormons miss-handle in the Scripture – and then, in 1880, he went back to Colorado.

The Westmark Evangelical Free Church records, “Westmark Church was organized November 19, 1880 by Swedish missionary-evangelist Fredrick Franson. The homesteaders and immigrant farmers of this rural community met in sod homes for Sunday School and Worship Services until the first building was erected on this location in 1883. The Swedish language was used in worship services and business meetings until it was officially changed to ‘the American language’ in 1929.”

Franson then spent nine years in Scandinavia preaching the gospel. His ministry at the Bethlehem Church in Oslo resulted in the formation of the Mission Covenant Church of Norway.

During his time in Scandinavia Franson gained the honour of being the first missionary appointed by the Moody Church, led by Dwight L. Moody, on February 5, 1878.

He returned to America on 7 September, 1890 and on 14 October, 1890, a meeting took place under his guidance in the Swedish Pilgrim Church, Brooklyn, New York, where “The Evangelical Alliance Mission” was born. That mission is now known by its acronym, TEAM and by the end of the 20th Century this mighty missionary organisation had about 1000 missionaries serving on 29 fields.

Franson continued in missionary activity, visiting several fields and is cited as part of the Korean revival in Wonsan, where a hunger for the Holy Spirit led to Korea’s first Pentecostal outpouring in 1903. “In the subsequent Bible Study meetings led by Frederick Franson, many Korean believers also confessed their sins. Confession of sins was an outstanding feature of the meeting.” (Korean Pentecostalism, Yeol Soo Eim, Gospel Theological Seminary)

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

The Spirit Came

History accounts many instances when God’s Holy Spirit fell on people and changed their world forever. From the Day of Pentecost and Cornelius’ house in New Testament times to the Cane Ridge Revival, the home of Jonathan Edwards, the life of Wesley, the ministry of Sister Etter, the Welsh Revival, Azusa Street, George Mueller’s orphanage, and a multitude of other times and places, the Holy Spirit has fallen with amazing impact.

Since the days of the Pentecostal outpourings, over this past century, through the Charismatic Renewal Movement of the 1960’s and 70’s and the more recent visitations, people in churches, homes and meeting rooms have experienced times of awesome visitation by the Living God.

The poem I have just penned is my limited attempt to encapsulate those experiences and touch a chord with those who resonate with this wonderful grace. If this is not your experience then I encourage you to press in for the chance to be part of such a time and place as the manifested presence of God.

The Spirit Came

They stumbled and they fell, undone like drunken men!
Laughing to their knees to weep gratitude again.
Lost in adoration and found before His throne
These worshippers of Most High God found heaven as their own.

Enthralled by deepest senses of things too grand to share
They swooned and laughed and chortled, hands stretched to the air.
Singing inspiration in word and tongue and cry,
Heaven’s sweetness drugged them as happy hours slipped by.

The tempest passed, and crumpled lives hung on the ebbing breeze.
No mortal joy compared with that which brought them to their knees.
Stillness held command where silent tears did spill
And foreign words from trembling lips tumbled headlong still.

Exhausted and enthralled each held their heaving chest;
They had met with Daddy God and tasted of His best.
Transfixed in transformation they dared not stir this place
For each felt wonder undescribed now showing on their face.

And in the coming days, they’ll thrill to still recall
The sweeping of the Spirit and how it hit them all.
They’ll shed a tear of gratitude and feel a bond with men
Who joined them at God’s footstool
there, and long to go again.

Thank You, Lord for the privilege of being there.

Sister Etter and the Miracles

This is the day that … Maria Woodworth-Etter was born in Ohio, in 1844.

Roberts Liardon refers to her as “the grandmother of the Pentecostal movement” (God’s Generals, page 47).

In her autobiography she tells how she was converted whilst “going under the water” at her baptism. She was 13 years of age (page 7). Almost immediately she says she heard God’s call to preach – and this in a day when women preachers were frowned upon.

Marriage to P.H. Woodworth resulted in six children being born, five of whom died in childhood. Nor did her husband share her desire for ministry. She divorced her first husband (1891) and married Samuel Etter in 1902.

Sister Etter, as she was known, preached to thousands, sharing the gospel and praying for the sick. Significant for hundreds and even thousands in her meetings was the experience of falling in a trance, akin to the frontier meetings of an earlier time.

In her preaching ‘holiness’ was her initial emphasis. By 1885 she claimed 500 were converted every week at her meetings. Then she began to emphasise ‘tongues’ and ‘healing’. Thousands flocking to her 8000-seat tent meetings.

She wrote many books – including one that foretold the destruction of San Francisco by a tidal wave in 1890! “Thousands fled to the hills because of her prophecy” (Dictionary of Pentecostalism and Charismatic Movements, page 901). Her book, Acts of the Holy Ghost, impacted many who held it as one of their most treasured texts. One of the Cambridge Seven missionaries, Stanley Smith, gave such testimony.

And most odd were her trances. Sometimes during a service she would “stand like a statue for an hour or more with her hands raised…” (ibid, page 901). To her, “lack of physical manifestation was a sign of apostasy!” (God’s Generals, page 55).

Healing people by “punching them in the stomach” or “whacking them in the neck” was one of her methods (page 73). It is believed Smith Wigglesworth adopted this method from her. He preached in her Tabernacle in Indianapolis after her death.

Whatever one’s theological leaning, Maria Woodworth-Etter must be regarded as one of the most interesting and influential figures in the history of Christendom. She proclaimed the Pentecostal message before Azusa Street and the emergence of the organised Pentecostal groups. Her miracles, preaching and impact did much to open people’s eyes to the restoration of New Testament manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

For a more detailed account of her life and ministry visit: http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/199901/086_woodsworth_etter.cfm

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.