Gaither’s GlassesMay we as Christians today put on our spiritual glasses to follow the example of servant leadership exemplified by the Gaithers.
Where you stand determines what you see, and this is certainly true for the perspective and vision of Commissioner Israel Gaither. I am sure if his glasses could share his story, they would speak of what he as a young man envisioned and encountered growing up in Newcastle, PA.
It was through his perception that Gaither found the Lord. At the tender age of 12 years old, Israel discovered God’s forgiveness and humbled his heart for the Lord to live in it. Israel’s newfound faith in a personal Lord and Savior caused him to realize that he wanted others to experience this salvation as well. Soon, Israel was invited by a neighborhood friend to attend the corps. As he became more involved in the corps, he focused on leaning into his calling to become a Salvation Army officer. He attended the School for Officer Training in New York and became a member of the Heroes of the Faith session exactly one month before he turned 18.
During training Israel fell in love with a session mate, Eva Shue. Their relationship also helped deepen his relationship with the Lord. They were married in July of 1967, with Israel’s father officiating.
This marriage was not without controversy, as Israel was African American and Eva was Caucasian during a time of deep racial divide in the United States. Despite their struggles, their relationship was rooted in their faith. Soon the Gaithers’ early efforts were recognized. Whether through corps work or as divisional and territorial leaders, Israel and Eva Gaither continued to be authentic Christians in an artificial culture. May we as Christians today put on our spiritual glasses to follow the example of servant leadership exemplified by the Gaithers.
Photo by The Salvation Army