Herbert Lord 1889-1971
“Could be worse. Not sure how, but it could be” are the words that gloomily ring from the voice of everyone’s favorite stuffed donkey. Eeyore, of Winnie the Pooh fame, is by far the most despondent resident of the Hundred Acre Wood. While still witty and loveable, he doesn’t provide much hope or motivation when things shift from bad to worse.
Sadness can be a normal and healthy emotion, but in dark times, there’s also a need to find the light.
Commissioner Herbert Lord shouldered a great deal of hardship, having been imprisoned and stationed in multiple war zones for the majority of his life. He, too, came to a point of complete brokenness and wanted to give up. But that was not the end of his story.
A YOUNG MISSIONARY
Lord’s parents were officers in The Salvation Army, and early on he was taught how to pray. He also showed great promise from his youth. The young Englishman was kind, considerate, gentle, and confident. When he was 19, he entered The Salvation Army’s Training College, and by his 21st birthday he was serving as a missionary in Korea.
Korea was not kind to foreigners then. The government posted notices encouraging Koreans to kill foreigners they saw crossing their borders. To foster more trust and credibility, Lord quickly learned Korean and was later appointed as the Training Principal.
WORK & WAR
In 1935, Lord established The Salvation Army in Malaysia and Singapore. Finding places to live, buildings for services and programs, and enough money to fund it all was exhausting—so much so that Lord got sick and traveled to New Zealand to recover. World War II broke out while he was there, and Lord finally returned to Singapore in the middle of the city’s worst air raid.
By 1942, Singapore had fallen to the Japanese and foreigners had to be registered. Afterward, many of them were gathered up by the Japanese and forced to march six miles to a prison camp, Changi Convict Prison. It was only intended to hold 600 people, but they stuffed at least 4,000 prisoners inside.
While in prison, Lord and other Salvationists worshipped together in a small cell they dubbed “The Citadel.” Three and half years later, anyone who had survived the horrible conditions of the camp was released. But a lot had changed in the outside world since they were first imprisoned. Malaysia’s economy had been trashed, several people were starving and without food, and there was a general sense of panic in the country. The government asked Lord to stay in Singapore to help with the recovery efforts. He agreed and established a committee that diligently worked to serve the Malaysian people.
1947 saw Lord become the Territorial Commander of Korea. Before he returned to the country, The Salvation Army was in grave danger of disappearing there. The government ordered that the name be changed, that uniforms, open-air meetings, and Army symbols be extinguished, and that The War Cry would not print another page. Through Lord’s leadership, the Army was able to restore all that had been banned. Re-establishing trust in the community by sharing the Army’s faith, ethics, and service were crucial to this operation.
IN THE PRESENCE OF ENEMIES
Things did not become sun-shiny and perfect afterward. Instead, another war broke out. During the Korean War, foreigners were once again rounded up, but this time they were forced to go on a death march of 100 miles to the North Korean border. Everyone from 80-year-old priests and nuns, to mothers with babies, to prisoners of war were among their ranks. The march was brutal and several people died along the way. One day, despite his best efforts to help, Lord was forced to leave an old Russian woman behind on the roadside. At this point, Lord’s faith was at its lowest point. He was broken and exhausted, he had seen horrific pain and death, and he was about to give up hope.
It was then that he remembered Psalm 23: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; For Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies…” (v. 4-5a, KJV). That last verse in particular was the catalyst for his “deepest spiritual experience” (The Young Soldier, September 20, 1958). It was powerful enough to lift him from despair to radiant hope. He remembered that God does not desert His people; just because times are rough, that doesn’t mean God is absent. Lord encouraged every prisoner, “God is with us.”
After being placed in solitary confinement, Lord was released in three years. In the following years, Lord continued Salvation Army relief work in Korea. He was appointed to take charge of the Army in South Africa in 1953, and in 1957 he was appointed as the International Traveling Commissioner. In this role, he visited Army centers around the world, held conferences, and gave guidance and advice. Commissioner Herbert Lord was promoted to glory on April 13, 1971.
TRUSTING THE SHEPHERD
Commissioner Herbert Lord regained hope in his darkest moment by remembering the words of Psalm 23. It may seem simple, but the psalm wasn’t only comforting, it strengthened him with an active challenge: to believe those words and completely trust God with his life. It required Lord to have an active relationship with the person of Jesus Christ in order to understand the truth of the psalm for his circumstances.
Whether life seems overwhelming right now, or you’re in a place where you feel secure, consider praying this psalm before you go to sleep each night. You’ll have this powerful prayer memorized for the moments you need strength the most. You may also find it helpful to meditate on the words with some of these questions and prompts:
- Notice words that speak to a personal relationship with the Shepherd.
- Contemplate the psalmist’s words and how they require complete confidence in God to shepherd you.
- Which words convey that this relationship lasts now and forever?
- What is revealed about the character of God through this psalm?
- In what ways does this psalm hold true even in times of trouble?
- How is the peace that the psalmist feels different from the peace of the world?
- Do you recognize your need for the Shepherd in your life?
Mariam Aburdeineh, Editorial Assistant, Young Salvationist