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Heroes: Frederick Booth-Tucker

by in Action, Features, Sliding Gallery

A year ago I discovered the TV series – Heroes. Some friends lent me season 1 dvd’s to check out. After the first episode I was hooked. It was mind blowing stuff! The mission – Save the cheerleader, save the world! I wanted to jump in and join the action. Much to my wife’s dismay, I pulled a couple late nights in the month that followed because I was entranced by the story and couldn’t stop watching episodes. I ripped through three seasons in no-time.

Like me, you might not have been aware of Heroes either. How about heroes of The Salvation Army! That’s right, there are heroes in our history that are equally mind blowing. I want to introduce you to a few of them over the next couple months. May their lives and stories grab a hold of you and inspire you to to join our mission – seeing every person be all that God created them to be.

years fighting: 1853-1929
hero id: Fakir Singh – meaning the “Lion of God”
mission: win the souls of India’s sixty million outcasts
strength: morphed himself to adopt Indian way of life and dress in order to accomplish his mission.

Born into a prominent British India family, at 28 years old Booth-Tucker traded in a virtually guaranteed successful career in Indian civil service and a life of esteem to fulfill his destiny and start the work of The Salvation Army in India.

Observing the failure of British missionaries to earn the respect and trust of Indian people because they wouldn’t adapt their ways he decided to take a different approach – share the message of Jesus with the Indian people in an Indian way (not European). As part of the way to fulfill this mission, Booth-Tucker modified his hero outfit. Standard hero uniform gave way to Indian saffron robes. His cap was replaced with more appropriate head gear of the people – a turban! Written across the turban on a red band was the word “Muktifauj’ which is interpreted as The Salvation Army in Hindi, Punjabi & Urdu.

Frederick’s passion to live the mission got him into some trouble with the local authorities. Once, when a police officer interrupted an open-air meeting, shouting, ‘In the name of Her Majesty, Queen of England and Empress of India, I order you to disperse!’, Frederick retorted, ‘In the name of His Majesty, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, I command you to stand aside!’ This clever comeback got him 30 days in prison! In order to be most effective in the mission it was decided that Booth-Tucker and his other officers (pastors) would set out across India as ‘fakirs,’ religious beggars who were recognized and customarily welcomed among the casteless and those of low caste. This involved walking barefoot, carrying beggars’ bowls and living on scraps of food. That’s dedication don’t you think? Wow! Kinda makes me think I’m a wimp.

Here’s one story from a book called ‘INSANE’ that illustrates the power of this action they took.

Frederick and another Salvation Army male ‘fakir’ approached a village in the region of Gujerat, where they received an exceptionally cold welcome. The villagers told the two Salvationists that they did not want to hear them or know anything about them-in short, that the missionaries ought to continue on to the next village. Instead, Tucker and Weerasooriya rested beneath a nearby tree. A number of the village elders, remorseful at having dismissed the two evangelists so ungraciously, went to see that had happened to them. They noticed that, although an Englishman, Frederick Tucker wore no shoes – and this piqued their curiosity so much that they decided, ‘We will feel his feet to see if they are soft like a European’s or hard like an Indian’s.’ Quietly squeezing the recumbent Tucker’s bare soles, they realised with horror that his feet were soft, unaccustomed to the heat and wear of Indian terrain. They imagined – quite correctly – that by forgoing shoes Tucker had exposed himself to sever pain, and they suddenly became aware of the extent of his sacrifice. Tucker awoke shortly afterwards to find an assemblage of guilty-looking villagers surveying him in silence. Ignorant of what had occurred, he conversed with them amiably and was invited to dine in the village.

That night he and Weerasooriya held a salvation meeting, at the conclusion of which several ‘seekers’ came to the front, sparking a revival in the region that led to several thousand more conversions. Looking back on the episode, he remarked: ‘I preached the best sermon I have ever given while I was asleep!’

Frederick had such an impact on the people and their culture that he was even invited to teach about Jesus at the most important shrine for Sikhism – The Golden Temple in Amritsar. Crazy town huh!!

Booth-Tucker’s instructions for all in The Salvation Army who would join him in his mission in India: “You must leave behind all your English dress and habits. Officers (pastors) will be barefoot… You will cook as they do, and wash your clothes in the stream with them… Find out what their thoughts are before you share yours.” To a society of outcasts he shared a message of equality and salvation. He made a huge impact upon the people of India.

R-U a part of The Salvation Army? If so… this stuff is in your d.n.a, it’s part of your spiritual family tree! Tap into it. Let it speak and breathe life into you. Wake up from your trance. Dust yourself off.

Do yourself a favour. Sit down for a minute. Turn off your cell phone and ipod and reflect for a couple minutes of ‘you’ time to do some soul searching. Answering these questions below will help give you a sense of purpose for your life.

  • What heroic things are you currently a part of? If you’re not, why not (lazy, $, time…)?
  • What kind of hero will you be?
  • What heroic things/social injustices will you BECOME a part of fighting?
  • How can you start taking action on that right now?
  • What will you be remembered for when you’re dead and gone?

Want to read more? See chapter three of INSANE
Snag a wicked looking tee here

Fight against injustice // Fight hard // Fight with love

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