Certain enterprising business firms find it worth while to pay large salaries to servants whose sole duty it is to think out fresh ideas, the working of which will bring success to their house. Kate Lee's mind was consecrated to get out of it every idea possible for the success of her campaigns. She had no leisure to devote exclusively to planning, but morn, noon, and night, while about her other work, walking here, pedalling her bicycle there, her eyes were wide open and her mind alert as she devised methods by which she might attract the ungodly to listen to her message, which, if obeyed by all, would turn this earth into a Paradise.
Nothing vexed her more than for the Lord's people to be content to make shift with poor tools and conditions in His service, while the devil's agents aim at getting the best to be had. Her patience was sorely tried when Salvationists thought their well-equipped hall too good for drunkards' raids, and none the less when soldiers considered any poor shop good enough for the Army hall.
When she took charge of Hythe, the corps fought its battles in a miserable little barn known as 'The Tar-Tub,' located in a back lane. How could she hope to get crowds of people into that place? She simply would not suffer the indignity. There was land to be had, money in the place, and sympathy. A proper hall there must be! She secured the ground, and the season being summer, she hired a large tent and erected it on the vacant spot. Then she organized a campaign with features to attract not only the townspeople but summer visitors. Night after night the tent was crowded. Meanwhile, she stirred the town in raising funds for the erection of the hall, and before long the necessary proportion of money was in hand. The tent was replaced by building materials and Hythe turned out for the block-laying, an event which by this time had become of public interest.
Farewell orders came before the citadel was opened, but Kate Lee was always ready to cheerfully drop a work she had set going and take up the next thing.
At Ashford she was ashamed of the miscellaneous collection of band instruments. A special effort enabled her to leave there a band with a set of plated instruments. At Sunderland, hard by the hall, a tavern boasted a brilliant front light. The devil should not lure men to destruction with a brighter light than that by which she showed the way to Heaven! Soon, therefore, a competing light blazed before the citadel. The entrance to 'Norland Castle, The Army's hall at Shepherd's Bush, London, was a miserable affair. Two sets of narrow steps led to two doors. It was a considerable scheme to clear the whole front, erect a flight of solid concrete steps and replace the brick wall by an iron railing, but she saw it through.
At this corps she installed a new lighting apparatus, at that laid linoleum in the aisles, at another curtains to reduce the size of the hall for week-night meetings. Always some improvement. She loved to build a new penitent-form, which ran the whole width of the platform -- with suitable carpet in front of it from end to end -- and above it, in gold letters, some such message as, 'At the Cross there's room.' She greatly rejoiced on the night that one such mercy-seat was thrown open, for a great sinner bedewed it with tears as he confessed his sins to God, and rose up, a new creature, to fight a good fight in that corps. But what was the good of a decent hall, clean, well lighted and warm, if the people remained outside? Get the people she must, and having got them once, she would make them want to come again. Go where you will, at the mention of her 'special efforts' there is a visible stirring amongst her erstwhile soldiers. It is amusing to watch different types of people as they prepare to describe her demonstrations. A villager shakes his head, looks solemn, clears his throat, and begins, 'Never seed the like of her and her ways!' The eyes of keen business men contract and smile; then they remark, half apologetically for their enthusiasm, 'Really, they were wonderful affairs. The Adjutant was quite a marvel in the conception of a big thing and the ability to carry it out.' As for the general rank and file, they bubble and burst with joyful acclamation at the recollection of red letter days in Salvation festivity.
The Adjutant turned to account every holy day and holiday. She laid herself out to make Christmas a joy-day for the lonely and poor. At Norland Castle, for instance, she provided dinner for some two hundred old people of the district. The afternoon was devoted to a children's party, the old people being allowed to remain as delighted spectators of the children's games and fun. For the night meeting the platform was decorated, the lights lowered, and a living representation showed the shepherds feeding their flocks at Bethlehem, and the angel choir proclaiming 'Peace on earth and goodwill to men.' By song, music, recitation, and appeal, the Adjutant made the Christmas message ring clear, and she closed the day pointing souls made tender by human loving- kindness, to the Prince of Peace.
Harvest Festival was, perhaps, her chief demonstration of the year. She used this occasion to impress The Army upon the whole town. The largest hall available was taken -- such as at Coventry, the Drill Hall holding five thousand people. A long report from the local paper describes the appearance of this building converted into a rural scene. There was a farmhouse large enough for habitation, a windmill in motion, and a realistic farmyard containing sheep, pigs, rabbits, ducks, and fowls. A sower sowed the seed; there was standing corn. This was reaped, and the grain thrashed, ground, and baked on the spot. All manner of farm implements were on view, and great collections of fruit, vegetables, and flowers.
Spectacular processions considerably helped these demonstrations. One night, the corps turned out representing a great harvest home with a wagon of hay, and the soldiers attired as farm labourers, carrying forks, rakes, and sickles, Chinese lanterns on sticks, and transparent signs. Another night the Adjutant had as many as seven lorries carrying representations of different phases of Army work.
Wherever these harvest festivals were held, the town was stirred; and thousands of people attended the meetings. They were convinced of the possibility of joy in religion, and also, they were brought face to face with eternal truths. They saw the way of Salvation in object lesson; the Bread of Life contrasted with the husks of the world; listened to an interpretation of the Parable of the Sower; were reminded that 'Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap'; in the story of Ruth recognized the wisdom of choosing Christ rather than the world, and also the beauty of unselfish service. Many were brought to consider the work of the reaper, Death, and to seek Salvation.
Such a demonstration entailed, as might be expected, an enormous amount of work, but the Adjutant's skill in enlisting co-workers and enthusing them with her own desire, succeeded in making them toil till midnight with delight. A master carpenter recalls, 'Before the festival she had me there, working every night for a week'; a master baker, that he carted flour and utensils to the hall, where his staff, in full bake-house regalia, made bread and baked it on the spot.
The Adjutant delighted to bring The Army's missionary work before the people. At several corps she converted her hall into an Indian village, the soldiers into Oriental villagers and invited missionary officers to explain our work amongst the peoples of the East. One of her city treasurers recalls the cleverness by which she engineered her plans, and got all that was needed for such a demonstration.
'Passing the shop of a taxidermist, the Adjutant noticed a fine stuffed tiger in the window. Turning into the shop, she asked to see the owner, and told him what was in her mind. Could he advise her? He was interested, very. He had several Indian jungle animals, which he would gladly lend. And he knew people who had fine Indian sceneries; he would speak to them and to others who had Indian costumes.
'The plan materialized surprisingly. She had the village, with the inevitable well; the women, with their water-pots, and the children playing about. The jungle adjoining was eerie with wild animals. There were tea-gardens with palms, an exhibition of Indian wares, and the soldiers of the corps moved about as Indian villagers.
'It was a most extraordinary affair. The campaign was well announced, and for three days the hall was packed. The missionary officers spoke, and our work in the East became a wonderful thing not only in the eyes of our own people, young and old, but of the outsiders as well. Fresh people heard the message of Salvation, and the heavy corps debt was cleared.'
For Bank Holidays the Adjutant provided counter attractions for her lively young people and converts, that they might feel no temptation towards the pleasures of the world, arranging a pleasant corps gathering in the afternoon and a tea at night.
Sharing the old General's belief that it is right to consecrate the gifts of sinners to the service of Christ's Kingdom, she roped in strange helpers. Perhaps the most extraordinary thing she did in this way was connected with the erection of a band rotunda for a Bank Holiday 'go.' Inspired with the idea that barrels would serve the purpose, she hied her to the brewery and interviewed the manager. A few days later, there was the unusual sight of a brewer's dray drawing into the yard of the Salvation Army citadel and discharging a load of hogsheads. These were rolled into position, covered with red cloth, and on them, the bandsmen -- many of them delivered from the curse of the beer -- mounted and played music for the deliverance of others. But Kate Lee never bowed to the world in order to receive its favours. The brewer knew full well that this gentle woman was an avowed enemy of his trade; but she was not his enemy, for she cared for his soul as for those of all sinners.
Adjutant Lee never allowed efforts that might be called secular to interfere with the spiritual work of her corps. To her they were as spiritual as any other effort. We are told of her calling her chief local officers together on one occasion to discuss some special corps liability. 'She told us of her intention to run an Indian Exhibition, laid the plans before us, and then prayed. That census meeting was turned into one of the most powerful prayer meetings I can remember. The lieutenant told me afterwards that the Adjutant had spent the previous night in prayer about this effort.'
At another corps she borrowed several firemen's helmets to be used in the Sunday's meetings, presumably to draw attention to sin as a fire, a destroyer. She impressed upon the brothers who were to wear the helmets, that unless the effort were made earnestly, it would be a farce. The men so entered into her spirit that they remained at the hall after the afternoon meeting in fasting and prayer, so that the message might go forth at night with power.
At Coventry she was faced with an unusual difficulty. The hall was altogether too small to receive the crowds that swept down with the band from the Sunday night open-air service. For people to wish to attend an Army meeting and to be turned away was unthinkable to Kate Lee. She must secure a larger hall. But how? In Coventry every theatre and picture- palace was in full swing Sundays as well as week-days. The only hall available for the winter months was the Public Baths, and this was required for many purposes.
'The committee can't let you have it,' she was told. 'Well, God can, and I will pray,' she replied. The treasurer remembers how she spent the time in prayer while the committee met to discuss The Army's request. To the surprise of many, the Baths were leased to The Army for Sunday evenings during the winter. The experiment proved a success as far as reaching the people went, but the expenses were heavy. All but two days of the last three months had expired, and the Adjutant had not got the money in hand to meet the rent bill. She had often lifted her heart to God about the matter, but as the days for settling the account drew near, she gave herself up to definite prayer. The lieutenant tells us that while actually on her knees, praying, a letter containing a note for ten pounds (fifty dollars) was pushed through the letter-box.
At many a corps the Adjutant conducted midnight raids for drunkards with great success. Amongst her papers was found the description, which she had prepared at The General's request, of one of these raids, but wished it to be published anonymously.
'I am afraid it is a mistake to have a midnight raid here,' nervously suggested a soldier of a popular corps of -- -- , a sunny seaside resort, that was patronized by a good class of visitor, and a 'better class' congregation attended The Army hall.
The Adjutant believed in the doctrine of her beloved Founder, and had said to her soldiers, 'We must go for souls, and go for the worst;' but the idea of filling the beautiful hall with drunken scallywags horrified not a few of the respectable Salvationists. Nevertheless, the need was pleaded, the interest of the band enlisted; a notorious character, saved from a life of sin, was coming from another corps to give his story; a startling bill inviting all to come, drunk or sober; a livener provided free, was well distributed by a band of scouts who had caught the spirit of the effort. Drunkards were visited and invited to the meeting. The band was ready to start, and the Captain prayed God's help as they went out to seek the lost.
Even in that fashionable resort were to be found haunts of sin and misery. Slumdom was stirred that midnight as the cheery music peeled forth; the boozer laid down his glass and rushed to the door of the saloon to see what could be happening at such an hour. As he rolled out on to the sidewalk, he found his arms entwined in that of one of the scouts who followed the march and mingled with the crowd. The soldiers forgot their fear, their souls stirred in the glory of a desperate attack upon sin, and even the bandsmen as they played their instruments, were observed arming sundry drunks along to the hall. What a motley crew was gathered in! One to thrill the heart of every true Salvationist; just the people that The Army exists to save. Five or six hundred men and women drawn from the saloon, brought under the influence of the Gospel, even for one hour, is an achievement not to be despised.
What could one do with such a crowd in all stages of intoxication? some might query. Picture the scene. A livener, a cup of coffee and cake, is supplied. Music and song peal forth to drown drunken brawls. Presently there is a lull, the men are becoming sobered and are called to attention. A sister sings sweetly of mother and God. The name of an ex- drunkard is mentioned, and the crowd cheers as he stands forth to testify. He tells how drink cursed his life, and how God has changed him. A hush steals over the meeting as the Adjutant rises with God's Word in hand, and calls for reverence if only for seven minutes! A great giant of a man, standing up, waves his heavy first and declares, 'I'll fling out the first man that speaks; listen to the Captain!' How they listened! Now there is a move, a man is pushing his way through his mates; he throws himself at the penitent-form and crys, 'O God, make me like Bill!' He had looked upon his old mate; listened to his testimony, and realized the wonderful change, a living miracle! He did not understand; the meaning of conversion was as foreign to him as to a heathen, but he wanted that something to happen to him that had happened to his mate Bill.
Not all of those twelve or fifteen drunkards who knelt at the penitent- form were really converted. Some found Christ. They were changed on the spot; they knelt down dazed with drink, and got up sober, praising God. The others merely took a step in the right direction. Some one has said that we are born with our backs to God, and our faces towards sin. Coming to the penitent-form, to some of those men, meant a turning of the back on the old life of sin and drink. They were too dazed with drink to understand more than, a longing after something better; but that longing was cherished; the man was followed to his home, watched over when the old craving came upon him, and taught how to seek and find God.
In a little room at the hall, a crowd of converts met week by week. The A B C of Salvation was explained to them; again and again the weak and ignorant were taught to pray and seek until the light of God dawned upon the darkened mind.
'How we loved our Muvver's meetings,' exclaimed an ex-criminal to a listener, who smiled at the new kind of Mother's meetings. He valued the words of his spiritual mother, and this converts' meeting was to him the meeting of the week.
Eagerly the soldiers looked forward to the next midnight raid. How rewarded they felt as they looked upon some of the converts won during the first raid, donned in cap or bonnet, leading their mates to God.
'Adjutant Lee must have worked you very hard,' I remarked to the old keeper of the Congress Hall, Brighton. 'The hall must have been very dirty after a drunkards' raid, and when it did not finish till one o'clock, how did you get ready for Sunday's meetings?' The sweet spirited old man smiled and replied, 'The hall did get dirty, and it did take some time to sweep up the sawdust and make things fresh for knee-drill, but I just went on till it was finished. Yes, I got tired. But no, I never grudged the work, thank God. I was glad to help the Adjutant, bless her! in my little way. To keep the hall in order, and to go on the door humouring the rowdy ones, not keeping anyone out, that was my work for the Adjutant, and I rejoiced to do it. And she was very thoughtful. When, after big demonstrations, the hall wanted extra cleaning, she would organize a scrubbing brigade of about twenty brothers and sisters, who would bring their own buckets and brushes, and she led them herself.'
Not content with directing extraordinary campaigns, there were special personal efforts which Kate Lee made to get in touch with the people. One of these was Saturday night visitation of the saloons. After the meeting -- with her lieutenant or, at corps where there were suitable helpers, having sent the lieutenant home to get to bed early in preparation for the heavy strain of Sunday -- until closing hours, she sought the souls of the drunkards.
A white-haired veteran soldier, himself a liberated drink-slave, tells of the Adjutant's saloon visitation: --
I knew the run of these places from sad experience, and asked her, the first time we set out, 'Where shall we go, Adjutant: to the respectable, or the rough?' 'The rough,' she replied. She would sing to the men, then kneel on those dirty floors and pray for the poor drunkards, and she would put in a word too, for the owner and his wife, asking the Lord to help them to find a better job. She could get in almost anywhere the first time round; after that she generally had to keep to the bar. The owners recognized in her a power against the trade. Sometimes men would be rude to her, but she smiled on as though she had not heard a rough remark.
We would go from place to place till half-past twelve. When the houses were emptying the men were quarrelsome, and we encountered many a fight. She had no fear at all; would go right into a fight and stop it. After that midnight work, she would be at knee-drill next morning and often passed me a little note giving the name and address of some drunkard she had got in conversation with and wanted me to follow up.
The old man's eyes smiled, and he looked far away with an expression of wonder and reverence which I have noticed in many a faithful armour- bearer of Kate Lee, as they recalled her fight.
Colonel Stanley Ewens, at one time Kate Lee's Divisional Commander, felt that this Saturday night work was too taxing for her frail body, and suggested that she entrust it to others. The Colonel says: --
I found that I had touched a vital spot. The Adjutant replied, 'You must please allow me to continue this work; some of my best trophies have been won for God as a result of my Saturday night visitations. It gives me an opportunity of getting to know the very worst sinners and following them up in their homes.' This was better understood when the following incident was told me concerning a convert in this very town. A desperate character was met by the Adjutant every Saturday night in the same bar. She offered 'The War Cry' as a means to get into conversation with him, and finding out where he lived, asked permission to visit him. One morning at 5:30, whilst washing himself in preparation for his work, he heard some one knocking at the door. It was the Adjutant and her lieutenant who had called to see him and his wife. 'Come in, sisters,' the man said as he opened the door. It was a wretched home. The officers sat on boxes. The drunkard's wife asked in a friendly way if they would have a cup of tea, and replying in the affirmative, were served with strong tea, in galley-pots. It was only a short visit, but it left its mark for eternity. This man and his wife were induced to attend the meetings and led to the Saviour.
One means to attract crowds to her halls, which she had used with success at many corps, was to dress in rags, and march at the head of the band. Amongst her people this recollection is spoken of with a kind of awe.
'To think that that lovely, pure woman should soil her face, pull her hair about, put on dirty torn clothes, broken boots, and make herself appear a sister of shame!
She asked me to keep her company; and, really, I did not like to walk down the street with her,' says a sister local officer of one corps.
Arriving at the hall the Adjutant would lead the meeting, still in her ignominious garb, and preach about sin; how it blighted and defiled the lives of millions of men and women; how it made life here wretched, and would land the soul in hell hereafter; then she would tell of the remedy, the glorious Salvation of Jesus.
An officer writes that she was a little girl of eleven when the Adjutant dressed in rags at her corps. The effect upon her mind was to make her hate sin with such a horror, that right then and there she determined to give her life to seek sinners.
But some of the Adjutant's soldiers could not see past the shame of their beautiful officer, thus making a spectacle of herself. 'It made me cry to look at her,' said one sergeant-major.
'It fair upset me; I told her never to do that again; I could not abear to see it,' confessed another.
The Adjutant carried out her part with apparently unconscious calm, and it never occurred to these worthies that their officer thus made herself of 'no reputation' at great personal cost.
The Brighton Congress Hall holds three thousand people. How to break in upon that city, catch the eye of the crowds, and fill her great building, caused the Adjutant much concern. She tried many means with only partial success.
'I feel I should dress in rags again, and I simply cannot do it,' she confided to her lieutenant. For several days she seemed absorbed and oppressed; then she betook herself to the little attic and shut herself away with God. On the evening of the second day she came down calm and triumphant, and the announcement was made that on the following Sunday she would dress in rags.
Sunday evening arrived and as she passed down the street to the open-air stand, people stared and gave her a wide berth. But the crowds were captured, and a full penitent-form was the result; no one but her lieutenant had any idea of the abnegation her service had cost.
Did Kate Lee never wish to escape from this endless strain upon body and soul? This constant spinning from out of her own heart and mind a web of love in which to capture wandering souls? I cannot find one person to whom she ever gave such an indication. She cast her burden upon the Lord; she drew her strength from hidden streams; she gloried in having a life to offer to the Holy War. We are indebted to Ensign Cutts, her last lieutenant, for a glimpse of Kate when the doctor ordered her off the battlefield to an operating theatre: --
A telegram announced her immediate return to her corps to say farewell. I met her at the station; such a pained, disappointed face greeted me, |O Leff, I feel this is the end of my Field days,| she exclaimed.
'But she threw off her sorrow, took farewell of her people, like the leader she was, and together we went to London. That night she spent in prayer, and in the morning she was calm and her face bright. |I have really got the victory,| she told me. |His will be done. If He allows me to return to the fight, that will be glorious. If not, His will is best.|