WHY I BEGAN THIS WEB SITE:
I want to explain why I began this web site, God’s Chosen People in world history. First, I believe there is a seamless unity between the faith of the Jews and that of Christians, how be it one that is not usually acknowledged by the synagogue or the church. But I have another reason for wanting to address the synagogue and the church in these articles about God’s Chosen People. I want to acknowledge my gratitude for the Jewish influence in my life and especially that of Mr. Rhodes, my employer when I left school at the age of fifteen.
When I left school I found a job learning how to make raincoats. That was not what I wanted to do, but it was a job and jobs were very hard to find at that time. I had no academic qualifications and since leaving school at fifteen precluded any chance of further education, my options were very limited. Nineteen fifty four was a bad time in England. The country was still recovering from World War 11. Only children with wealthy parents could advance to Grammar School or other tertiary education. We were poor. My dad had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for years, hence he was unfit to work. I had two brothers whose future prospects like mine were blighted by want of money.
I was what might be termed a war child. I witnessed three bombings by the Germans. The last was with flying bombs. They landed indiscriminately on our town blowing up houses and people. I was deeply affected by the war, especially the dropping of the atom bombs by the US on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Holocaust, the genocide of Jews in gas chambers.
MY FIRST MEETING WITH A JEW
I first met Mr. Rhodes when I applied for the position of garment maker, the job description I applied for. The company was called Stocks Manufacturing Company and was owned by Mr. Rhodes, a Justice of the Peace. He was a Jew. He employed me on the weekly wage of two pounds two shillings and sixpence, a very small wage but one I was glad to receive. My mother gave me ten shillings pocket money out of that amount.
I had very little to do with Mr. Rhodes. He sometimes walked around the factory observing the workers and other matters with Himy, the supervisor. I hated the work. The raincoats had to be sealed with an offensive smelling glue, the facings, the armholes and the pockets. And fleas would jump off the rolls of cloth stacked on the floor and I would get bitten. But I stuck at it because of that two pounds two shillings and sixpence a week.
After I had worked at the factory for a year something happened to me that changed my whole way of life and the life of my family. You may read about this in Coherence 1 and 2, by following this link.
The two pounds two shillings and sixpence, no longer seemed the best reason to continue working at Mr. Rhodes factory. I searched and searched for a better paid job and eventually I was offered at least twice the amount Mr. Rhodes paid me. I tendered a weeks notice and waited for the week to pass quickly. But before the week transpired the office girl approached me and said,
‘Mr. Rhodes wants to speak to you in his office.’
I waited outside his office. I wondered why he wanted to speak to me. After a long wait the door opened and Mr. Rhodes invited me in.
‘I understand you want to leave us, Selwyn,’ he said. ‘May I ask why?’
‘I want to study to become a Salvation Army officer,’ I said, ‘but I don’t have enough money to buy a uniform or to study.’
‘I thought something had happened to you,’ he replied. ‘I have been watching you and I have seen a change in you.’
I was surprised. Something had happened to me but I never thought Mr. Rhodes knew anything about it.
‘I would like you to stay here, Selwyn,’ he said. ‘I believe you are going the right way.’
I was surprised also that he, a Jew, should say that.
‘If you will stay I will buy you a Salvation Army uniform and raise your wage so that you can do what you want to do.’
I felt deeply grateful that he should understand why I wanted to leave and for what reason.
‘I will stay, sir,’ I said.
‘But, I must warn you, do not tell anyone about this.’
‘No, I won’t sir.’
‘You may have heard a rumour that Jews are tight fisted, Selwyn. Don’t believe everything that your hear.’
‘No sir, I won’t.’
I wondered how much Mr. Rhodes was going to give me. I received my wage packet that week as usual and I decided not to open it until I was alone. I simply put the wage packet in my pocket. Some of the other boys who were learning the trade opened theirs and looked very pleased.
‘I’ve got a sixpence rise,’ one boy said.
I waited until I was outside then opened my wage packet. Inside was nine pounds!
I was able to purchase a bran new Salvation Army uniform. Each week was the same, nine pounds. I had money to buy books and I began a serious study of the bible. I knew God wanted me to preach the good news of Jesus Christ and it seemed that I was destined to become a Salvation Army Officer. A whole year passed and I became a candidate for Salvation Army Officership. I attended an interview with Colonel Dukes and the youth secretary who always encouraged and supported me. I thought the interview went very well. They asked me to sing a chorus and I chose ‘When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died...’ They were impressed I could tell. Then the colonel asked me if I would do military training first and go to the International Training College afterwards. I could think of nothing worse than being called up to do military service, yet I was of age to be called up and I had no choice but to do military training. I replied, ‘If it is God’s will, sir, I will do it.’ I had said something wrong, something that did not correspond with the expected response. It seemed to leave a doubt in the colonel’s mind. The interview ended and I waited for news of how the interview had gone. Major Fensom, who was the driving force behind my wish to become first a Salvation Army Officer, told me that they thought I did not know the Salvation Army well enough and refused to accept my willingness to become a Salvation Army Officer.
I felt let down and very disappointed. I knew that my ‘If it is God’s will..,’ had cast a doubt over my offer but it turned out that I was perfectly right. My call up papers came and I attended an interview for the Army Call Up examination. The military doctor asked me, ‘Do you want to be a soldier?’ I replied, ‘If it is God’s will, yes.’ I received a letter shortly afterwards telling me that I was not accepted for military training.
I had so much to learn about organized religion. The bible became my most precious possession and I continued to preach the good news of Christ wherever I was invited, in public houses, on street corners and in my place of employment. Mr. Rhodes continued to support me in my studies until his company failed two years later. If you would like to read about my faith and life go to this link, Coherence, or you may download a free book called Beautiful Oldham which is my childhood story writted from the child’s point of view. God bless you and I hope you enjoy this web site.