Henry Havelock Christian Soldier

Henry Havelock was born on April 5, 1795, in Bishop Wearmouth, in Sunderland England, the second of four sons to William Havelock a well-to-do shipowner and his wife, Jane (Carter).

So serious minded was he as a lad that his school friends called him “Phlos” – an abbreviation for ‘Philosopher’.  But there were others who taunted him with cruel jibes – “Methodist”, “hypocrite”, for it was known that he prayed and read the Scriptures daily, as his godly mother, Jane, had taught him to do.

For a while he went on to study law, and then at the age of 20 we find him entering “The Rifle Brigade” of the British Army. It is interesting to note that all four of the Havelock boys became soldiers.

By this time his faith had lapsed, even bordering on Unitarianism.  But mid-Atlantic, on his way to India in 1823, he is befriended by Lieutenant James Gardner, “a humble, unpretending man, just twenty-one”, and a Christian.

Gardner loaned Havelock the Life of Henry Martyn – missionary hero of the CMS – and The Force of Truth by well-known Bible commentator, Thomas Scott.  Gardner’s gentle testimony led Havelock to the Saviour.

In India Havelock fought in the First Anglo-Burmese War of 1824 to 1826.

On 8 February, 1829, Havelock married Hannah Marshman, daughter of one of the great Baptist missionaries to that land, a co-worker with William Carey.

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Havelock took his new faith and the example of his missionary in-laws to heart and began distributing bibles to all the soldiers. He also introduced all-rank bible study classes and established the first non-church services for military personnel.

It was 23 years before promotion came his way – first to Captaincy, then Major in 1843, Lieutenant Colonel in 1844, and eventually Brigadier-General in 1857.  During this time his Christian convictions and witness remained steadfast.

On Sundays “a flag would fly over his tent” as an indication that he was at prayer and others were invited to join him.  The influence spread through his battalion until they were known as ‘Havelock’s Saints‘!

It was in 1857 the Indian Mutiny took place – thousands of rebels demanding “the extermination of every European in India” (Brave Lives and Noble, page 283). Havelock retook the city of Cawnpor, but not before the English population had been massacred.

Havelock, with 1000 troops, marched to Lucknow to rescue the besieged Britishers – 1,700 of them, including women and children.  “The advance to Lucknow forms one of the most stirring chapters in our military annals” … ‘Havelock’s Saints’ “earned a hundred VC’s!” (1000 Heroes, by A. Mee, page 565).

He arrived on 25 September and held out against the 10,000 rebels until Colonel Campbell’s Highlanders arrived, and Lucknow was saved.  But two months later Sir Henry Havelock died in Lucknow, overcome by exhaustion and dysentery.  To Sir James Outram he had said: “For more than forty years I have so ruled my life that when death came I might face it without fear.” And to his son, also wounded and needing care, Havelock had said: “Come, my son, and see how a Christian can die” (Modern Christian Biography, page 220; Way to Glory, by J Pollock, page 252).

Many towns bear testimony to the affection which England held toward her amazing Christian soldier. Streets and Inns named after Havelock are in abundance. His statue stands in Trafalgar Square, paid for by public donations. Although the statue goes unnoticed by today’s generation its dedication brought together one of the biggest crowds ever seen there.

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This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com

Find hundreds of succinct Church History posts at: http://chrisfieldblog.com/topics/ministry/church-history

Staying Under Command

Westerners have little grip on authority. Most westerners don’t have authority, because they are not under authority. Most westerners have violated their right to rule by refusing to be ruled. Of course they are ruled, or indeed dominated, but their spirit is one of insubordination and independence. So they have lost the right to rule.

This is profoundly significant for the menfolk of the west. They are the ones who are supposed to lead, as the head of their home. Yet they cannot take that lead, since they know nothing of true headship and authority. Their challenge is to stay under command.

I want to help you learn how to do that, so here’s an analogy I recently used to illustrate this principle.

The Chain of Command

Before we dig into my illustration let me remind you how God has set up the command structure. God has created an hierarchical authority structure for us to operate within. God is the head of that structure. The next in command is Christ. So God, as Almighty God and as the Son of God, Jesus Christ, occupies the two top positions in the hierarchy. Husbands are given a place of authority directly under Christ. Wives are given a place directly under their husband.

Husbands, then, have a pretty awesome place of authority. They are directly answerable to Jesus Christ. Imagine being directly answerable to the Prime Minister or President of your country. That’s the place of authority husbands have in God’s scheme of things. That’s a pretty elevated place of responsibility and authority.

Abusing the Boss

Imagine being directly answerable to the leader of your nation, and then taking orders from someone else. When you begin taking orders from someone other than your boss you are abusing the boss. You mock the authority of the boss because you do not revere and respect it. You stop being under that authority and so negate the delegated authority given to you.

Every time you let someone change the orders your boss gave you the effect is that of mocking your boss and demeaning the boss’s authority. What does it say about your boss, when you let some person off the street tell you what to do? You are lowering the authority of the boss to being no more significant than that of a stranger or some person with no authority.

Stay Under Command

The most important thing for a person to do is to stay under command. This is especially so if you have been given the privilege of direct access to someone of high authority. You certainly would not want to violate that authority and lose your place under it. You want to remain in direct line of command from the highest officer possible.

To do that you must honour your boss. You must be diligent to faithfully fulfil the wishes and instructions of the boss, so he is pleased with you and retains you in the position of authority he has assigned you.

This is equally as important for husbands as the head of their home. If a man disregards the lordship of God and Christ in his life he loses the effective authority that has been delegated to him. He ends up with a wife and children who have no regard for his leadership and headship, since he has no regard for Christ’s headship over him.

The Challenge

Many men are already starting from a lost position. They have to regain their authority in a context where their wife rules them and their children ignore them. This is a pretty hefty challenge, but it is one that can be met. God is the one who assigned men their authority and so when men move into it they do have God’s backing.

The question I get asked from time to time is about actually activating that authority, especially in a context where it has never been exercised before. That is where this Soldier analogy came from. I hope you find it helpful.

Soldier to Soldier

Imagine two platoons of soldiers from different armies working together in a battle zone against a common enemy. Each group is kitted out with their issue of uniform and equipment. The soldiers from the two armies mix together, but are under the direct command of their platoon leader.

A soldier from one army advises a soldier from the other nation that the way he carries his ammunition belt is not right. One army wears the belt around the waste and the other slings it over the shoulder. The solder being told what to do by the other soldier has to decide what to do.

He can take the advice of the other soldier. If he does so, he is stepping outside the instructions given him by his own army command. The kit which he is issued and trained to use is to be utilised as instructed. If he rejects his own command he makes himself subservient to a mere soldier from a different nation. He is acting outside his chain of command.

However, the suggestion may be a good one. So, could he not follow the instruction if it strikes him as a good idea? The answer is, No! He must operate within the chain of command and stay under the authority of his commanding officer.

What to Do?

What he can do is go to his commanding officer and ask for permission to wear his kit in a different manner to what is prescribed. The commanding officer may happily give him leave to do so. It may not be a significant matter. The officer may allow the soldier to do what he thinks best. Or there may be good reason why the prescribed wearing of the kit has to be maintained.

By respecting the command of his own platoon leaders the soldier is staying in a place of authority. That authority protects him and also empowers him with delegated authority.

The Point

The point of this illustration is to convey the concept of authority to people who have little practical experience in living under God’s authority. The next issue is how to practically apply authority and headship into a home where it has been absent. I’ll tackle that question in a future post about Regaining Domestic Authority.