Army Jargon

Have a Word

Arguably, it is the phrase that birthed The Salvation Army.

“Would anybody like to have a word?” said the leader of the street meeting outside the squalid Blind Beggar pub in London’s East End. That day during the summer of 1865, a young, lanky Reverend William Booth stepped up, riveted the onlookers, and the rest is history.

The invitation remains a cherished part of Army meetings around the world —the offer for anybody to “have a word.”

Of course, it is pure reformation— divine insight, exhortation, and authority are not the sole prerogative of the ordained clergy. God forbid. Indeed, the testimony period is often the most memorable part of a meeting. 

The Asbury College revival began as a spontaneous student testimony meeting because the invited speaker had gotten stuck in snow.

The Psalmist memorably exhorts, the prequel to many a testimony meeting, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.”  Paul needles timid Timothy, “Do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord.”

Ever strategic, Booth realized rough–and–ready testimonies in the accents, language, and colloquialisms of the street could be a powerful tool of communication. Ever earnest, holiness author Samuel Logan Brengle sees quick public testimony to sanctification as key to sealing the experience.

Even now, many a quaking 14–year–old, newly enrolled Salvation Army soldier is asked to share a public testimony. 

Ah! Stuff that makes an army.

Would you like to “have a word?”

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