My grandfather was a doctor in London, England. In 1893, he unexpectedly took ill and died.
He left my grandmother as a young widow, 26 years old, with four children: a boy of six, a girl of four, my father aged two, and a new-born baby girl.
There were no social safety nets for deceased doctors in London in those days. My grandmother was desperately poor — so much so that my father and one of his siblings had to live for a time in an orphanage because my grandmother didn't have enough food to feed four children.
She had been trained as a secretary, but due to the mental distress that she was under, she kept losing positions soon after finding them.
Finally, a friend said that she knew someone who would be kind to her and perhaps even find her a job. She sent my grandmother to see Mrs. Bramwell Booth, the daughter-in-law of the founder of The Salvation Army.
She was kind to my grandmother, led her to a saving knowledge of God expressed through the love of Jesus, and helped her to find useful employment.
I believe that Mrs. Booth was following the command of Jesus: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:40b KJV)
That act of kindness from one lady to a widow has resulted in many of her offspring and their families serving God, and continuing to serve God, in many different parts of the world. Here are their stories:
In 1917, the "girl of four" and her husband were part of the pioneer group that commenced the work of The Salvation Army in China. In 2017, her grandson and his wife returned from missionary service in Africa.
In 1919, Grandma Walter herself went as a missionary to Bombay, India. She died from sunstroke in May, 1925, and is buried in India. In 1959, when my wife and I (with our baby son) were travelling to Madras, India, we stopped in Bombay. When we asked a young Indian Salvation Army officer if he could show us where Mrs. Walter was buried, he said that he didn't know. However, when I said her Indian name — "Salamni" — he immediately took us to her grave. I commented that he was too young to have known her. He replied that his parents thought so highly of her that they had taken him as a young child to her gravesite. Obviously, my grandmother had been kind to people in India just as a lady had been kind to her.
The "baby son" has not only been a lifelong Salvationist but has prospered in business. In 2008, he funded the construction of a chapel at The Salvation Army College for Officer Training in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in honour of his great-grandmother at whose graveside he was the first relative to stand.
So the challenge is, Can you be kind to someone? You never know where it might lead.
Prayer: Dear Father, help us each to follow your command and do our very best, in Your strength, to show love and kindness to others whom we meet. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "O Master Let Me Walk With Thee" (Lyrics)