Warcry: The rebellious years
General Eva Burrows was born into a Salvation Army family in 1929 where life revolved around faith and church activities. As a young adult, however, she rejected her faith—until God called her back.
I enjoyed my school life but it was at that time I became quite rebellious and really thoughtI didn’t want anything to do with The Salvation Army. I think it could probably be because I was popular at school, and The Salvation Army was so strict in those days about our behaviour.
You couldn’t go to dances, for example, and you weren’t supposed to go to the movies. We’ve moved on, fortunately, since those days. I wanted to do all those things…I wanted to be free, and choose what I wanted to do, not just what I was told to do. I suppose you could say I was spreading my wings and wanting to be myself.
At that time my father was away with the forces, so we didn’t have his very strict disciplinary style, and Mother was a bit soft I think—she virtually let me do that.
I gave up [going to The Salvation Army] after a while and said to my mother, “I’m notgoing now; I’m old enough to choose for myself.”
[My spiritual and religious life] just dropped off me like a cloak—just left me—and I had no interest in it at all. Though I had been a regular attender at church and felt that I loved God and served him, I realised that must have been superficial, because when I stopped attending I actually felt very released and very free. It didn’t worry me at all.
I often say it was God’s hand in my life [that brought me back]. I think God, like my mother, was very patient. He wanted me to learn some lessons and the meaning of spiritual values.
I went to Brisbane University and in my first few weeks we had an orientation course. I went to all the clubs to see what was going on…A Salvation Army chap who I didn’t really know well—said, ‘Do you want to come to the Christian Union?’
So I went…and found all these very nice young people, all switched on to the Christian faith. I think before that I’d probably felt that Christianity was more to do with older people and strict rules, and here were these young university students following, studying, and enjoying talking about the Bible.
I went a few times and suddenly it all began to click and I felt, ‘Here’s somethingthat I haven’t really thought seriously about’, so I began to attend their services. I also went to a vacation Bible camp that they were holding.
There was a young Anglican clergyman there, talking about the letter to the Romans which Paul had written, which shows us how we can turn our whole life around…His name was Marcus Loane and later he became the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney and Primate of Australia.
In those few days of that week he had a tremendous impact on my life, so that I really wanted my life to follow the Christian faith.
[By this time] my father had come out of the forces and had again become a Salvation Army corps (church) officer and I began to attend the services where he was preaching. They put on some very big youth events in The Salvation Army, and I went to this meeting for youngpeople.
‘It was during this day that I had a strong conviction—I can only call it an inner awareness—that The Salvation Army was the place where God wanted me to be, and that morning I made a very solemn decision.
‘In The Salvation Army when we have an evangelical service, we will often invite people to come forward to a place of prayer—something like a communion rail but we call it the mercy seat—and I went forward and knelt, and first of all asked God’s forgiveness for all those years of being so rebellious to his will.
‘I didn’t ask forgiveness for rebellion to The Salvation Army but I asked forgiveness for being rebellious to what God would have wanted for my life. Then I said, ‘I give myself to you’, and it was like being at an altar when you bring your gift to the altar.
‘I gave myself to God in dedication, and from that time on there was no question in my mind that my life was to be devoted to God, and within the orbit of The Salvation Army.