A casual view of the work of a Salvation Army field officer might suggest that for such a position few qualities other than enthusiasm and some ability for public speaking are necessary. Such an idea is as wide of the mark as may be.
A field officer of The Army has the honour to be chosen for service similar to that William Booth undertook when he first turned to the unchurched masses of the East End of London. To him is committed the spiritual responsibility for the town or part of the town in which he is stationed. He is there to preach in the streets to the people who will not go to places of worship, and by every lawful means to compel them to his hall for help at closer range. He is there to visit the sick, to seek out the drunkard, to visit the police court, to encourage, and lift, and lift again the weak and stumbling. He is there to answer letters from anxious parents, to hunt up straying sons and daughters, to rebuke sin; in outbreaks of infectious disease and catastrophies to administer comfort and help to the sorrowing and bereaved; to instruct the children; to shepherd and inspire the band of Salvationists already attached to his corps; to raise money for the furtherance of The Army work. Indeed, nothing which affects the well-being of the populace lies outside the sphere of the officer of The Salvation Army.
All corps are not the same. There is the city corps, with its hundreds of soldiers; an efficient brass band and songster brigade, home league, young people's work, and various other departments. The business man finds that the hustle, the high rent, floating population and the keen competition of the city necessitates extraordinary care and daring to ensure success. The same applies to our officers in charge of city corps.
There is the sea-side corps, with its thousands of visitors and 'trippers' whom The Army officer seeks to reach and bless. There is the suburban corps, with its settled residential population. There are corps in industrial centres with features peculiar to them; and the village corps, where long distances are covered by the officers in their efforts to reach the scattered population. Each corps presents to the field officer special problems as well as special opportunities.
To be a field officer as near perfection as possible, was the ambition of Kate Lee's life. In this calling she believed she could best serve God and win souls from sin to righteousness. She began as a lieutenant, receiving twelve shillings per week and her furnished quarters, and when an adjutant at the height of her success, not only as a soul-winner, but as an organizer and manager of unusual ability, who in commercial or civil life could have commanded a large salary, she received a guinea (about [USD]5.00 at normal exchange) a week and her quarters. [Footnote: These figures relate to the pre-war scale of allowances.] Kate Lee laid up her treasure in heaven.
As a Corps-Commander, she saw service in every kind of corps. Beginning amongst the villages, with tiny hall and a handful of people to care for, by sheer merit, she rose to command the most important corps in the British Territory.
She laid good foundation for a successful career. For the direction of field officers, The Army Founder wrote a book of Orders and Regulations known in The Army as |The F.O.| It is a volume of some six hundred pages packed from cover to cover with matter as interesting as it is logical and practical. Every phase of the officer's life and service is therein dealt with. An officer might be located on Easter Island, separated from all oversight, and if he consulted his 'F.O.,' and commanded his corps according to its advice and directions, he would surely build The Salvation Army in miniature.
So entirely had Kate Lee assimilated William Booth's spirit and adopted his methods in relation to her work, that she might well have been his own daughter. She lived the 'F.O.' in relation to her own soul, her lieutenant, her soldiers, every section of her corps; to the backsliders, to the great masses of the ungodly, to the civic authorities, to the churches, to her comrades and superior officers. And she succeeded wonderfully.
Adjutant Lee set to work in a methodical, practical way. On taking charge of a corps, she first consulted |The Soldiers' Roll| in order to ascertain the size and condition of her charge as a fighting force; next she examined the cashbooks in order to find out her financial responsibilities. Lastly she took steps to gain an accurate idea of the condition of the town, morally and spiritually.
Says the treasurer of one of her corps: --
Soon after she arrived here she gave me a list of questions, including, 'How many saloons in the town? How many houses of ill fame? How many places of worship? What proportion of people go to church? When she compared these figures with the population she was able to estimate the grip of evil on the town, and the efforts made by the people of God to combat it. She reckoned all the godless people of the town were her concern, and laid her plans accordingly. She called upon the police, the civic authorities, and the ministers, intimating that she was there for the good of the city, and asked to be allowed to co-operate with them. It was not long before the governing people realized that an uncommon force for righteousness had come among them.
Says another of her local officers, 'Our city had never been so conscious of the presence of The Salvation Army as a regenerating force in its midst, as during her stay.'
Her ministering spirit played like a flame upon every section of the corps until the whole organization pulsated with life. Every evening of the week the citadel was ablaze with light and humming with activity, the soldiers unwilling to stay away one night for fear of missing a good thing.
In order to promote a spirit of prayer in a corps, the Adjutant's plan was to form a prayer league. She chose the most spiritual amongst her soldiers and adherents, and pledged them to spend a portion of each day in prayer for an outpouring of the Spirit of God upon the corps and town. These comrades became a great strength in the battles for souls which developed. At some of her corps a few of these comrades remained in a room praying during the whole of the service on Sunday night; and when the prayer meeting began, they quietly made their way to either side of the penitent-form; their earnest pleading for the unsaved having much to do with the victories gained. Others were formed into a |Fishing Brigade.| [Footnote: Salvationists selected to speak personally with those likely to be brought to decision for Christ.] These were posted about the hall, and, at a given signal in the prayer meeting, moved amongst the unsaved and urged them to decision.
Soldier-making was Adjutant Lee's object. A full penitent-form meant little to her unless the kneeling penitents became fighters for God. To this end she visited, and 'nursed' and trained and commanded -- and with good results. But while she had a keen eye for the new recruit, she mourned and battled for the deserters. She had taken to her heart the Old General's counsel on this score, part of which reads: --
The Field Officer must watch against heart backsliding. When soldiers drop off from knee-drill; when they are not found in the ranks in bad weather; when they no longer remain to the prayer meetings; when they come only now and then to the week-night services; and when they cease to testify as frequently, heartily, and definitely as in former days, the F.O. should conclude there is something wrong; decay has commenced. He should deal with such at once, and give them no rest.
No officer should refuse to seek the restoration of a backslider because of the disgrace he has brought upon the corps by his falling into old ways; old habits of drunkenness or uncleanness, fighting or thieving, or any other vulgar form of sin. The F.O. should consider the shame of the man himself, if he is permanently left to rot in the ditch of corruption, and the sorrows that burden the heart of His Master, for one for whom He has given His precious Blood.
Heart backsliders or open backsliders were all the same to her -- deserters to be followed down and brought back to loyal service. One tells that he had been away from the fight for six years. She heard of him by a casual remark one comrade made to another, got his address and surprised his home by a visit.
'After that,' says this comrade, 'she slipped into our house for a few minutes every day until she won us back to God and The Army. Sometimes she might not even sit down; just kneel a moment and pray with us. At other times she merely put her head round the door and smiled; said, |God bless you,| and was gone. Her loving interest broke us down, and we hungered to get back into the fight.'
Another comrade had fought so successful a fight that the devil thought it worth while to centre his heavy guns upon him; he was so smashed spiritually that he seemed past mending. But not to Kate Lee's faith. She prayed over him, believed for him, refused to give up his soul as lost until at length he again began to hope in God for deliverance. He was fully restored and became a devoted bandmaster.
Some backsliders who withstood her pleadings in life were brought home by her death. 'The last time I saw her,' said an old man with broken voice, 'she held an open-air service in our street, came into my house, wept over me and prayed for me. I used to serve under her. When she died -- -- .' He is fighting the good fight now as in his best days.
The bandsmen of The Army are a remarkable body of men. They are all converted, many from lives of desperate sin. Others have grown up in The Army; almost all have learned what they know of music in the ranks. Twenty years ago, the latter remark might have been received with a smile. Not so to-day, for while the object of Salvation Army music is the same as when it was first admitted as an auxiliary in our efforts to attract the unsaved, it has passed from the crudeness of its beginnings to a high standard of excellence. The bands of The Salvation Army now rank amongst the best in the world, and are an appreciated institution in most towns and villages. The bandsmen, who find their own uniforms and receive neither fee nor reward for their services, devote much of their leisure to Salvation Army service. They carry the message of salvation by music and song into city streets and slums, into the lanes of the country; to hospitals and asylums, and, besides, lead the singing in The Army citadels.
As might be expected amongst a body of clean-living, energetic men, there are occasions when matters of contention arise which require careful handling. More than once Kate Lee 'scented' trouble in her bands and resorted to a night of prayer, as a preparation for dealing with the problem. She would come from her little sanctuary, clothed with such meekness, tact, and strength that never once did she fail to stem the difficulty and to hold the men to the highest ideals of Salvationism.
If a whole band were affected, she saw the men one by one before she met them together. At one corps where the inclination to worldly amusement threatened serious loss, the Adjutant held a meeting which lasted until midnight. Lovingly, faithfully, firmly, she reminded the men of the high purposes of The Salvation Army, the condition of the world in relation to God, the spiritual danger of mixing with the ungodly in their amusement. Quietly, the men viewed the matter in the light of eternity and made their choice. It was according to the Adjutant's standards. Not, as she was careful to explain, because they were hers as the commanding officer, but because they were standards of The Army, based upon the changeless principles of the Kingdom that is not of this world. She found, as many another servant of God has found, that, 'Strongly-formed purposes can be changed and men's hearts influenced by prayer alone, and that surrenders made and principles accepted at such a time make for the permanent change of character.'
The wives of Salvation Army bandsmen make their sacrifices. Sunday is seldom a rest-day for Salvationists. Bandsmen are required to be present at six engagements, three out-door and three in. Their wives see to the children and the meals and send their husbands to their God-given labours. They were not forgotten by the Adjutant. She took a delight in preparing a pretty tea for them at her quarters, and inviting them to a little party all of their own. Serving them herself, she spent an evening of music and song amongst them, speaking words in appreciation and gratitude of their unselfish service, and making them feel that their part in the War was well worth while.
There are few rich people in The Salvation Army. Soldiers and adherents are trained to give according to their ability towards the upkeep of their respective corps; but when the best that may be is done in this direction, there is, in most cases, a considerable deficit remaining which must be met by public contribution.
As an example of the financial responsibilities which Kate Lee successfully discharged, the Brighton Congress Hall might be taken. Here the expenses for the year ran into some four thousand dollars. The Adjutant desired to give all her time to 'pulling sinners out of the fire.' But there was the rent; the upkeep of a great hall and her quarters, fire and lighting, printing, advertising, in addition to the modest allowance for herself and her two lieutenants. To cope with such problems, Kate Lee brought the qualities of prayer and plan. 'A model of method,' is how her treasurer here describes her. 'She ascertained the full extent of her liabilities, and probable income, and laid plans to meet the obligations with the least possible hindrance to spiritual effort.'
She never allowed lack of money to hinder her in a forward movement. Going to the charge of another large corps, she had decided upon an immediate campaign for souls. But awaiting her was a debt of five hundred dollars! However, in her Welcome meeting, she committed herself to the spiritual campaign, and enlisted the soldiers' interest. The following morning she received a letter of welcome from her Divisional Commander, who incidentally informed her that the Division was financially in rather difficult circumstances, and that he was looking to her to assist him by reducing the debt on the corps as soon as possible. She was seized with the temptation, for a moment, to attack and dispose of the debt at once, but convinced that her first decision to be of God, she committed the money matter to Him, and began to organize the corps for a revival.
The month's effort was to include house-to-house visitation, the 'bombardment' of saloons, and a Sunday Salvation campaign in a theatre. Her faith was tried; money was difficult to raise, and as she went forward with her plans for soul-winning her liabilities increased. 'The theatre will be a fizzle, and you will have a big deficit there,' discouraged the Tempter. But Kate would not be moved from her purpose. The special Sunday proved to be a day of victory. At night, two notorious characters knelt at the penitent-form in addition to a number of promising young people. The expenses were met, and the soldiers enthused.
The following morning, as the Adjutant was seeing a visitor off at the railway station, a gentleman accosted her cheerfully, 'Adjutant, I have some encouraging news for you,' he said. 'A friend of mine was present at the theatre last night, and he was so impressed with what he saw and heard that he intends to give you two hundred and fifty dollars!' 'Oh, praise the Lord!' responded the Adjutant. When she met her soldiers with the news, and showed them how God was honouring faith and obedience, they united forthwith to wipe out the debt. In came promises of different amounts. Ten days later the debt had vanished and a glorious work of soul-saving went forward.
Kate Lee's lieutenants have lively memories of her methods and enthusiasm in conducting the annual Self-Denial Appeals. Says one: --
The first |S.-D.| I was with her, she said to me one morning, 'Now, dear, I must get this all planned out and see my target on paper before I meet the corps. I'm going upstairs, and I don't want to see anyone or be disturbed for anything.' Dinner time came, and I wondered what to do, and thought I had better take her dinner to her. When I appeared at her door with the tray, she laughed heartily with and at me, carried the tray down and we had dinner together. After the scheme was launched she kept in touch with the whole corps, encouraging and holding each up to his or her share in the effort, until it finished successfully.
She had settled ideas about personal self-denial. Another of her lieutenants tells that, during one Self-Denial week, a friend, thinking that the officers might be depriving themselves of nourishing food, left a basket packed with fresh goodies on the doorstep. The Adjutant smiled, sold the goods and the basket, and put the money to the fund.
The soldiers who fought under Kate Lee revere her memory. Volumes of tributes to their love and appreciation of her spirit, her ability and service, could be given.
'What I thought she was when she came to us, I was sure she was when she left.' A testimony from a village comrade all unconscious probably of its full significance!
'Like a specialist she was; always a queue of people waiting to see her after the meetings,' says one of her city hall-keepers. 'What did they want? Spiritual help, guidance, advice, about all manner of things; they knew her heart was big enough to take in all the troubles they could bring, and they never thought that her body might crack up.'
Another recalls her love for the Colours, and her loyalty to the standards of her General.
'My, but she loved the Flag! Once the colour-sergeant was away, and it was suggested we should go to the open-air meeting without the Flag. |Oh, no! The General wouldn't like to see the march without the Flag,| she said; so a sister carried it.'
The following sidelights are contributed by a sister soldier of keen observation and sweet spirit. 'When the Adjutant died, I felt I had lost a dear and close relative, though as a matter of fact I had never caught much more than glimpses of her. My husband was one of her local officers and she frequently came to our home, but she did her business and went, never remaining even for a cup of tea unless it were poured out and she could take it without waiting. The most time I spent with her was once when she returned to conduct some special services here, and was billetted with us.
'She was too full of her mission to make friends for herself, but although so busy she did not rush. She never had too many irons in the fire to listen to a sorrow; and the few moments she could spare you knew were all your own.' This characteristic is laid away in scores of hearts like a sweet perfume which gives out fragrance every time it is stirred. |She took time, she always took time to listen,| whispered one of her converts looking into my face with an adoring love in her eyes that was almost anguish. The story of her wonderful deliverance, more full of romance and tragedy than any novel, may not appear here for obvious reasons.
Continuing this soldier says, 'She seemed to put the work of two lives into one. Such a brisk walk she had! People pulled themselves to attention and things began to move faster whenever she came on the scene. |This is quite a feminine little bit| -- I never saw her look into a shop window! She had not time for even the innnocent interests of most good women.
'She lived in the spirit of the command, |Be pitiful, be courteous.| The graciousness of her spirit always reminded me of Christ. She did not seem to understand the meaning of sarcasm.
'Her health was very frail. Whilst stationed here, she was often fighting bronchitis, but she never spoke of herself. Never even said she was tired. There was not a trace of self-pity or self-love about her.'
From many sources one hears of this continual fight with and triumph over physical weakness. A woman hall-keeper tells, 'One evening I caught her creeping like an old woman, through the dimly lighted hall, bent almost double with bronchitis. |Oh, Adjutant,| I cried, |you're ill. You should go home to bed.| When she knew I had seen her, she steadied herself to take breath, smiled sternly, then waved me off, and presently walked briskly into her converts' meeting.' A lieutenant tells, 'Sometimes in the morning she looked so ill and old, and I would beg of her to let me take her breakfast to bed. But she would laugh and say, |What's the good of giving way to feelings? I'll be all right when I warm up to work.| Though ever a spartan to herself she was always tender in her treatment of others.'
The following extracts from an article by the late Mrs. Colonel Ewens appeared in 'The Officer' under the title of 'My Ideal Field Officer.' It indicates the high esteem in which Adjutant Lee's Divisional Commanders held her: --
For some years now, a woman Officer who is still in the field, has been the living embodiment of my 'Ideal Field Officer.'
I was conducting a Junior meeting at her corps when the bandmaster stepped into a side room for his instrument. I prepared to accompany him to the open-air meeting and casually remarked that the officers had gone on. 'You may trust our captain; I have never known her late,' was the rejoinder.
Continuing he said: --
I have been in The Army for twenty years, but have never had such an eye-opener in all my experience. I tell you if ever I have felt ashamed of myself and my performances, it has been since this officer came. She's the right woman in the right place, there's no doubt about it. She can 'sit on' a fellow without crushing the life out of him. The whole band is changed. She's just got our chaps, the thirty of them; and she's as true and straight as a die. The beauty of her life and example beats all we have ever had. Makes you feel you must be good whether you will or not.' This was intensely interesting to me, coming as it did so spontaneously from a man not at all in the habit of praising his Officers. After our conversation, I began to study the character and work of that unobtrusive woman.
I consider her success mainly attributable to her strict adherence to the godly principles which rule her life, and to the careful cultivation of certain useful qualifications which are within the reach of all. Three words sum them up, consecration, concentration, conservation. Every power of her being, every treasure of her heart, every hour of her time is at the service of God and humanity. My 'Ideal F.O.' is a God-possessed woman absorbed with a passion for soul-saving which nothing can quench.
She has so schooled herself that she now possesses the ability to focus every power of mind, body, and soul on the object of the moment, whether it is saving a drunkard, clearing a debt, settling a dispute, or leading a meeting.
There is complete abandonment but very little wreckage in her work. She conserves her energies in fitness, her soul in tenderness, her people in love, and the interests of The Army in loyalty. Consequently, her work wears well.
The feature which impressed me most in my F.O. was her faith, her indomitable faith in God, faith for the very worst, faith in the midst of darkness, tireless, persistent, fruitful, wondrous in its effect upon others. She literally accepts no defeat. Her convictions are strong, her brain fertile, and when failure appears imminent, her tactics are changed and seeming defeat turned into victory.
The shepherd spirit is characteristic of her. Watching and caring for souls seems part of her being. Hence visitation is a joy to her. The bright cheeriness of her manner, and her loving compassionate heart, ensure a welcome everywhere; and whilst she weeps over the wanderer, and spares no pains to win him back, she is inexorable where wrong is concerned. Sin must be confessed and forsaken. Wrong-doing must be righted, reparation must be made.
More time and prayer are spent by this particular officer on personal dealing than on any other aspect of her work. No wrong thing is ever winked at, be it in the wealthiest or the poorest; in the heart, the habit, or the home. The fierce light of the Judgment is brought to bear so powerfully upon evil that the wrongdoer must either give in to God or give up his profession.
Her soldiers and people regard their Officer with deep respect and affection. She is as accessible to the youngest child as to the eldest soldier, yet is over familiar with none.
For her platform she studies much, often alas! far into the night, when she has sent her lieutenants to rest. She is not what is termed a brilliant speaker, but her matter is arresting, convincing, converting.
To her lieutenants she is a charming companion, a wise leader. In her home she is a model of cleanliness and good management.
The business side of a woman's work is often, I have heard, the weak point; but as a Commanding Officer my Ideal possesses a large capacity for business and relish for it, to which, as a lieutenant, she was a stranger. She shoulders financial burdens with a loyal courage, and carries them through successfully. Her writing table is the index to her brain, and bears the stamp of order upon it.
You cannot surprise her with an outstanding liability. She has her hand on everything in a corps in a remarkably short time. The yearly expenditure is calculated, the ordinary resources discovered, special efforts estimated, the deficit boldly faced; then prayer, faith, and extraordinary effort are brought to bear upon meeting it. She runs all her financial efforts on the budget principle.
On corps organization and oversight, she is equally systematic and comprehensive. You will find the individuality of my Ideal wherever you touch the corps; converts, backsliders, seniors, juniors, young people, home league, boys' band, swimming club, corps cadet, company guards, 'War Crys,' songsters. In fact, there is no activity in the corps over which she does not exert a personal influence and directorship, though far from desiring to do everything herself.
Her lieutenants share her confidence, and work to the full. She never acts without the co-operation of her locals, where it is at all possible to secure it. She values their judgment, and fully appreciates their toil.
She has a duty ready for the youngest soldier and convert, and an encouraging word of approval for all.
Alert to avail herself of every possible means to improve her corps, amenable to reason, correct in her judgment, strong in discipline, humble as a child.
In the estimation of her two Generals, Kate Lee won a chief place. It was an honour that she held dearer than any badge, that once when chosen to represent the Field Officers to The Founder, the aged white-haired Leader stooped and kissed her as a daughter before her comrades.
Writes General Bramwell Booth: --
It was as a Corps Officer that she shone, excelled, and won her great victories. She showed us afresh, if we only have eyes to see, how great that position may be.
Christ took hold of her whole being and transformed her. He was united in His Spirit with her strong, loving, dutiful soul. The meekness of Jesus was found in her, side by side with a Divine passion for the lost.
She was at first one of the most unlikely people to take the place she ultimately took. Timid, retiring, having little confidence in herself, and quite unconscious of possessing any special gifts, she rose up, and did more actual work than is sometimes done by half a dozen of her sister-officers put together. The lost and the ruined and the broken-hearted, the vicious and desperate, and those who are ready to go down to the pit were her special delight. From town to town she went, consorting with them, hunting them up, weeping over them, praying for them, stretching out her hands to them; yes, and sometimes literally pulling them out of the fire.
It is extraordinary how officers of this type are remembered in different towns by different aspects of their work and character. In one town it is one thing, in another town it is another. It was so with Kate Lee. In one place she is spoken of as the great befriender of the broken and outcast. In another as 'the one who helped us when we were starving.' In another as one of the few decent people who were ever seen during the midnight hours in the dark places. In another as making the open-air marches radiate light and music and Salvation. In another as being like a spiritual dredger, dragging the very gutters for lost souls.
And yet in all she would never speak of what she had done if she could help it. She was one of those who could say with Paul, 'I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.'