The One-Word Telegram

The following account may or may not be historical. Either way, it’s true.

It was Christmas Eve, 1910. General William Booth, the founder of The Salvation Army was an invalid and near the end of his life—it was impossible for him to attend the Army’s annual convention. 

Someone near the General suggested that Booth send a telegram to be read at the opening of the convention to the many Salvation Army soldiers in attendance as an encouragement for their many hours of labor serving others throughout the holidays and the cold winter months. Booth agreed.

Funds were limited and telegrams charged by the word, so to ensure as much money as possible would still go to help the needy, General Booth decided to send a one word message. He searched his mind and reviewed his years of ministry, seeking the one word that would summarize his life, the mission of the Army and encourage the soldiers to continue on.

When the thousands of delegates met, the moderator announced that Booth could not be present due to his failing health. Gloom and pessimism swept across the convention floor until the moderator announced that Booth had sent a telegram to be read at the start of the first session. He opened the message and read just one word:

“Others!”
Signed, General Booth.

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