Amid the slums of London, England, Methodist minister William Booth (1829–1912) founded the Salvation Army in 1865 to wage spiritual warfare on poverty without formal religious services.
"I must assert in the most unqualified way that it is primarily and mainly for the sake of saving the soul that I seek the salvation of the body," said Booth. With uniforms, flags, and ranks, his goal was to preach the gospel and meet human needs without discrimination.
"He who helps in the saving of others, Saves himself as well," observed German epic poet Hartmann Von Aue.
On this day in 1880, Booth established the first U.S. Salvation Army in New York City. Like its London counterpart, the mission became a quasi military organization. The leader was called "general" and followers were "soldiers."
The war to help mankind continued.
In 1904, Booth's daughter Evangeline (1865-1950) was named the U.S. commander, the organization's first woman general. She handed out donuts during World War I and operated soup kitchens during the Depression.
Today the Salvation Army operates in over 103 countries and offers a range of social programs to help others: aid to children, halfway houses, shelters for the homeless, food for the hungry, and relief for disaster victims.
"If we are not growing," explained worldwide commander Evan Burrows (1930-), "we must feel guilty because we are not fulfilling Christ's demand."
About service to others, the mystic and philosopher George I. Gurdjieff once said, "If you help others, you will be helped, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps in one hundred years, but you will be helped. Nature must pay off the debt. It is a mathematical law and all life is mathematics."
Help others whenever you can.