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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : VII THE MOTHERING HEART

The Angel Adjutant Of Twice Born Men by Minnie L. Carpenter

VII THE MOTHERING HEART

One of the joys of Kate Lee's later years was to have with her, from time to time, her little namesake niece. Sometimes in the midst of a great campaign the hunger of heart to have a child in the house overcame her, and she would prevail upon her brother and his wife to allow Katie to come to her. The fair, timid child had much of her own appearance and disposition, and the Adjutant yearned to train her to take her place in the War. Here and there we get glimpses of her mothering love for the little one. A comrade officer tells that once boarding a boat travelling north, she found Adjutant Lee and her little niece were passengers by the same boat; but Kate, having arrived late, had no berth. All berths had been taken but one, which meant that the child had a bed, but her aunt had not. Immediately the officer placed her berth at the Adjutant's disposal, saying she preferred to sleep on deck. Kate was distressed, she would not accept favours for herself, but for the sake of the timid little one to whom a sea journey was a new experience, she was grateful for her comrade's thoughtfulness.

'I am sure,' says her comrade,' that I slept better than she did. She came up at midnight to see if I were comfortable, and at dawn I was awakened by a gentle face bending over me and the words, |Have you taken no hurt by sleeping here? I am so distressed to have taken your bed.| The Adjutant's appreciation of any service rendered her was so sincere that it more than compensated for any inconvenience incurred in serving her. We were only a few hours on the boat, but the Adjutant's gracious spirit and pure, refined face made many of the passengers inquire, |Who is that beautiful woman?|'

A little maid, whom the Adjutant engaged to help her in the house at one corps, tells how she trained her to care for little Katie. She was intensely anxious concerning the little one's health, and careful that the maid should speak gently and correctly, that she might be safely imitated.

For the sake of the lost, Kate Lee voluntarily laid aside her own hopes of marriage and motherhood. Detached and in a sense lofty in her walk amongst her comrades, still there were those who had coveted her as a continual comrade in the war, and had made their plea. Once she almost yielded, but pity for the unsaved prevailed over the most human inclinations of a woman's heart. She was not sure that she would be as free to seek and win souls if she married. Her lover waited in hope for years, but Kate Lee became increasingly certain that it was God's will for her to remain as she was. This matter once settled, she felt in a very sacred way,

Chosen for His holy pleasure,
Sealed to be His special treasure.

It was indeed a rash individual who trespassed upon the privacy of that consecration, and dared to rally the Adjutant on the subject of marriage. Upon such a one she turned eyes in which there was neither anger nor amusement, but which regarded the trespasser in silence until he felt like a clumsy boy, who, unaware, had stumbled into the presence of a queen. Then, to relieve his embarrassment, in perfect sweetness the Adjutant changed the subject.

The fountain of love and tenderness that might have blessed husband and children, was not sealed, else it had turned bitter. It flowed without restraint and increased as it flowed, until it became a river, carrying life and refreshment to thousands.

'Aye, she was more to me than my own mother.' said a North-Country woman, who, in the rush of industrial life, had missed a certain tender touch until she met Adjutant Lee.

'Never nobody mothered me like her,' declared a grey-headed man saved from great depths, whose tottering steps she taught to walk the way to Heaven steadily.

It is the lower type of mother-love that limits itself in affection and care for her own offspring alone; true mother-love takes to its heart all young and weak and wayward creatures. In this Kate Lee showed the true spirit of motherhood. Her own converts she nursed tenderly and guarded with unremitting care; but none the less the converts, the weak souls, and the young people she found at any corps upon taking charge.

A prominent local officer tells with gratitude how she helped him in the days of his spiritual infancy. His conversation illustrates, incidentally, the wonderful influence of the Holy Spirit upon the human heart, independent of any human agency except prayer.

William Bailey, unutterably wretched in mind, dark and sinful in soul, stood on the curb of a London street, and longed for some power that would change him and make him decent and happy. At the same moment The Army march swept past and the thought stole into his mind, 'If a man joins The Salvation Army, he becomes clean in mind, and talk, and action.' He went to his bachelor rooms, knelt down, and prayed to be made like a Salvationist. He felt changed on the spot. The craving for strong drink and desire to gamble or swear was clean swept out of him.

The following night he went to The Army Hall. Adjutant Lee was being welcomed as commanding officer. During the prayer meeting she went down amongst the congregation and spoke to this man. 'Are you saved, my friend?' she asked. 'I believe I am, but I want to join The Army,' he replied. He was totally ignorant regarding religion, and this gentle woman adopted this newborn soul, and from that night nursed him to spiritual manhood.

Bailey was a reservist -- and a few weeks after his conversion his pay was due. Pay-day had always meant a spree, and Bailey was afraid. 'What shall I do, Adjutant?' he asked. 'Go to the office in an Army cap and jersey,' she replied. Obediently he went to headquarters on Saturday and brought home these articles of uniform. He put them on, and many a strong man will understand the cold shivers that Bailey felt when he got into the street. He wanted to go to the |open-air| by back ways, but that would not please the Adjutant. Manfully he started down the main street, and presently came face to face with an old service comrade, hilariously the worse for drink. The sight of Bill Bailey in the uniform of another Army was too much for the merry 'drunk.' He made straight for his old mate, embraced him, exchanged hats, and arm in arm they marched to the open-air meeting. Taking in the situation at a glance, the Adjutant beamingly greeted the queer couple. 'Here's my friend, Bill Bailey. He will give his testimony in his new jersey,' she announced; and Bailey was committed to his first open-air witness for Christ. On Monday, with his uniform as his safeguard, he drew his pay, and not one of his mates suggested a drink.

The Adjutant next suggested that Bailey did not wear proper uniform. Tan boots and light trousers didn't really go with the red shirt. Of course not. Bailey would be a real soldier; he ordered a regulation Army suit. The convert went steadily forward. He married an Army sister, and has a happy home. He has filled the position of young people's worker, bandsman, assistant sergeant-major, and is now assistant treasurer.

'It's through her I am what I am. Ignorant, rough man I was, with the merest flicker of spiritual life; but she cared for my soul, and was so patiently loving that she led me to know God.' Bailey was afflicted with a stammer when he was converted. Of this, he says, 'She talked to me so calm and quiet. |Go slow, now,| she'd say, |Count.| She would insist upon my giving my testimony, and if she saw I was going to be fairly stuck, she'd shout. |Glory! Hallelujah!| and beam on me with that lovely smile of hers; and by that time I'd got my next word.'

The first baby words were not sweeter to mother ears than the first testimony of Adjutant Lee's converts to her. One drunkard, so great a terror to his town that even the magistrate confessed that he used to cross the street rather than meet him, had been wonderfully delivered from sin. When called upon to give his first testimony, he said, 'I fank God He's kept me this day wifout drink. I fank God He's kept me this day wifout smoking. I fank God He's kept me this day wifout swearing overmuch.' Marvellous change! The Adjutant beamed upon him, rejoiced over him, and the following night had further cause for gladness, when he declared, 'I fank God He's kept me from swearing altogever.'

A woman soldier's face quivers with emotion yet smiles as she tells: --

I was rather a problem when Adjutant Lee came to our corps. Mother died when I was fourteen, and I was left to bring up four brothers. You may be sure I had to hold my own with them, and I became obstinate and had a flippant manner which covered many a better feeling. I was a great trial to the lieutenant, who had no patience with my nonsense, but the Adjutant was never cross with me. One night, after a meeting, she took my arm and led me off for a walk. We walked miles. She talked to me about my flippant ways and sharp tongue. Said I did things that were not worthy of me; told me that I should be my real self, and not put on foolish airs. I stood that, though feeling bad; but then she cried, and said I would break her heart if I did not change.

Here was the mother-touch the starved, warped spirit was needing. After that, the graces of gentleness and sweetness began to appear.

There was nothing that concerned her people's well-being that Kate Lee regarded as outside of her province. A certain sergeant-major, who had reached middle life and was still single, was reported to have become engaged to be married, and not to a Salvationist. This man was a wonderful trophy of grace. One of a family of fourteen, all drinking people, after he was converted it was six years before he was able to go to his home in his uniform. Often to escape the godless ways and contentions indoors, he had gone into the stable where he could pray in peace, and slept with his horses. But things were not so difficult now, and all the town respected the Army sergeant-major. The Adjutant knew that many a soul who has climbed with safety a rough up-hill path has slipped on a smooth dead level, and that many a man has fallen from grace through choosing a wrong wife. Somewhat anxiously she interviewed her local officer. 'You needn't be afeared for me, Adjutant. I prayed and waited until the right person came my way,' declared the sergeant-major.

Then the Adjutant sought the bride-elect. Gentle probing discovered a true Christian, and after a heart-to-heart talk, the Adjutant left her with an enlarged vision of her responsibility regarding the soul of the husband-to-be. Mrs. Sergeant-Major of to-day, a wise little woman, with a heart of gold, tells how she summed everything up and felt it to be her duty, as now it is her joy, to share to the fullest extent her husband's work.

Over young people of strong impulses and unformed judgments Kate Lee exerted a remarkable influence. A bandmaster tells of her patience and tact with his obstinate ways in days long gone by. She felt there was good under the headstrong nature, and never met his 'pig-headedness' with harsh dealing, but taxed herself to make a reasoned appeal to the best that was in him. It was the mother hand upon the lad, and its influence is with the man to-day.

At one corps a gang of factory lads endeavoured to annoy the officers by hammering at the quarters' door and running away. The Adjutant sought them out, and one by one they were converted. They became energetic soldiers. At Brighton corps there were at that time about fifty young women in the Young People's Legion. They were an undisciplined, rather unlovely lot. In her work for them, the Adjutant had the co-operation of a godly comrade who was entirely of her leader's spirit. Her home became an unofficial receiving and training home for these girls when they fell on difficult ways. 'Could you possibly manage to do with her, poor child? No mother, no encouragement nor help! How can we expect her to do well till we get her fairly on her feet?' the Adjutant would plead. And the good woman would open her home again and again.

Many a girl, having received such help is saved to-day, doing well in a situation, or happily married. Should one be having an unhappy time at home, the Adjutant visited her people. Sometimes she discovered hardness of heart and cruelty wrecking the young life; sometimes fault on both sides. Then she acted as mediator and healer of the breach. She taught the girls to make and mend their clothes; when ill, she got them to a hospital. Always she made them feel she loved them and believed for them to be good. Her work amongst these girls would not have been unworthy of a sole responsibility, but it was one of her least noticed efforts at that corps.

Says a soldier saved from terrible sin: --

She was just like a mother. I would go and ask her advice when I had done anything wrong. She never scolded me, but would look serious and say, 'Well, you know you ought not to have done that.' And somehow, in a minute, I could see what I ought to have done, and would promise to try to do better. How could you help getting on when all the while she was smiling on you, giving you some work to do, and believing you to be good.

Her mothering love for souls sharpened her really wonderful faculty for remembering faces. Years after she had left a corps, if she met a comrade or friend, her face would light with recognition, and she would greet the person by name. The pleasure this afforded is mentioned all over the country.

Motherlike, she could not bear to feel that at night the door was shut upon any wandering child, and her sergeant-majors tell, 'No poor fellow who came to the penitent-form went without a bed. She kept bed tickets for emergencies. She might give away a good number to people who did not deserve help, but she would rather do that than fail one who did.'

'It's because of all she taught me, and the nice way she taught me, that I have been able to take such good places,' says a little maid, with quivering lips and shining eyes.

One motherless girl followed her from corps to corps for years, taking a situation in the town where she was stationed so that she might catch her smile now and again, and hear a few words of mother love. Married women's eyes fill with tears as they recall her tenderness in sorrow and her wisdom in difficulties. How she took a poor little widow, distracted by sudden bereavement, and nursed and soothed her. How 'she stayed up all night with me when my sister died.' How 'she buried my mother and was so kind I can never forget her.' How 'she helped me to nurse sonny, when no one else dared come near.'

Women old enough to be her mother felt the pleasure of childhood when the Adjutant, revisiting an old corps and finding them doing the same faithful work as during her term, would beam upon them and remark,' Still at it, you dears!'

'She got me the job I've been in this fourteen years,' says an ex- drunkard. 'I had worked my way along after I was saved; then I heard of a goob job becoming vacant, and I asked her if she would mind saying a word for me. She was up and away before breakfast next morning, interviewed the manager, and got me the job. Like a mother she said, with her nice smile, |Now, don't you let me down!| And I haven't.'

Kate Lee oozed motherliness-that love that is capable, wise, patient, tender-the love that never fails!

One of the sweetest fruits in her spiritual children is that after she had left them they continued to perform the services she loved. One man, saved from nameless sins, slow to speech, and clouded in intellect, would spend his money on Testaments, and 'War Crys,' and walk miles to visit gipsy camps to read and pray with these wanderers, and other isolated people. He knew that 'mother,' as this middle-aged man always called the Adjutant, would be pleased.

When Kate Lee received farewell orders from a corps, she suffered as a mother does in leaving her family. Her eyes hungered as they rested upon the men and women whom, with great travail of spirit, she had brought into the Kingdom of Grace. She had striven to teach them the ways of life, but they were not strong, and temptations were many. Laying hold of godly comrades of the corps, she would plead with them to continue to care for these children in the Lord, after she had left them.

And her heart often wandered back. She knew that no voice sounded to them just as hers did. There were, perhaps, thirty or forty trophies of grace, who now and again received a letter of encouragement in her swift, legible handwriting. Just a few words fresh as the dew, bright as the sunshine, with her voice ringing in them, pointing these souls, uplifted from the depths, to God, and holding them up to the standards she had raised.

When, during the war, the men of England were scattered over the world's battlefields, no mother suffered more anxiety for her sons than did Kate Lee for her sons in the Gospel. Separated, as many of them were, from Army meetings and helpful influences, and surrounded by sin and temptation, her letters came like angel messages. No one knows how many she kept in touch with, but from unlikely sources up and down the country, one hears, 'she was the only one who wrote to me.'

For the 'Twice Born Men' she felt a special solicitude. To the 'Criminal' at the front in France, she wrote every week, sending him 'The War Cry,' and occasionally a parcel. An early one contained an Army jersey. 'Wear it, Joe, and always live up to it,' she had written. He wore it till it dropped to pieces, and then cut out the crest and brought it home. One can understand how her thoughtful love helped that trophy of grace, when, coming half-frozen out of the trenches, he refused the hot tea he craved for, because it contained rum.

For the 'Copper Basher,' away at the Dardanelles, separated from every Salvation Army comrade, she prayed especially. She wrote him regularly. Once, motherlike, she inquired if there were anything he would like her to send him. Tommy is a contented soul; the only thing he could think of was a luminous watch. Kate Lee managed to send him one, and as in the darkness of night the shining figures spoke to Tommy, so Kate Lee's faith and love made the Saviour's face to shine for him in the darkest hour. She rejoiced exceedingly that not only did Tommy refuse to sin, but that he let his light shine before his buddies. In the evenings when they would be drinking, swearing, and singing wild songs, Tommy would bring out his Bible to read his portion before 'turning in.' Sometimes, small men jeered at the man, who, before conversion, they might well have feared; another time they would say, 'Old Tommy'll read to us to-night.' He would read aloud and pray, then 'turning in' would say, 'Good-night, chaps. Now Tommy'll go to sleep.' And he was left in peace.

The Memorial Service of Kate Lee was being conducted at one of the great corps the Adjutant had commanded, and one of her trophies was called upon to give his testimony. The man stood upon the platform, from whence he had heard his spiritual mother invite him to Jesus. It all came back, his sinfulness and misery; her winsomeness; her wonderful faith; her patience; her rejoicing through all the years since his conversion. He could not speak. The man stood and wept; his tears the greatest tribute he could pay to the woman who had mothered his soul to God.

When days are no more, and the things of this life are judged, one thinks to see a radiant spirit before the Throne of God, surrounded by a band of Blood-washed ones, and to hear Kate Lee say, with joy, to her Lord, 'The children whom Thou gavest me.'

In nothing did her motherliness show itself more beautifully than in the patient love that refused to abandon the most hopeless objects of her efforts, even though they shamed her and caused her sore distress. The love of many a parent for a prodigal child is quenched when son or daughter brings shame upon the family. But Kate Lee's love was deeper and stronger than shame. One comrade tells of her, that finding one of her converts backslidden, and drinking in a public-house, she sat beside him while he drank of the cup of his destruction, then took him home.

A lieutenant speaks of a criminal whose soul Kate Lee wrestled for; after giving good promise, he broke into sin again and got into jail. She went to meet him at the gates upon his discharge, and brought him home to breakfast. He gave her his prison loaf; and she kept that loaf of bread -- that slight evidence of gratitude -- for quite a long time.

But -- for our encouragement be it recorded -- she did not always succeed in delivering the prey from the terrible. One notorious sinner, the terror of a certain city, she tried hard to win, but without success. Meeting him one day in the principal street, she took him into a restaurant and ordered dinner for two. The landlord called her aside, and inquired anxiously if she knew the character of her companion. 'Oh, yes,' she replied; 'one of my friends whom I am hoping to help.' Another time she met this man in the street, mad drunk. A sister-soldier was with her; Kate took the man's arms, piloted him to the sister's home; had a great pot of tea prepared, and made him drink cup after cup in quick succession. He wanted to fight, to smash the furniture; but she soothed him, and saved him from the lock-up. This man steadied considerably, but would not entirely renounce his sin. He still drinks; but when he meets Kate Lee's old friends, he speaks about that 'heavenly woman,' and declares he'll meet her in Heaven.

Only one instance can I discover when the Adjutant gave expression to the least discouragement concerning weak, wobbling converts. This was when she remarked to a beloved comrade who helped her to wrestle for the most hopeless, 'Shall we ever get to an end of it? Oh, that the Lord would take them Home!'

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