A popular historic poster shows children asking their father, “Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?”
At least one man could answer, “I stopped the beastly thing!”
“Faith and Fortitude” –traits greatly needed in leaders today– are an apt description of Lt. Gen. Sir William Dobbie, a British military hero who died 50 years ago.
Those hallmarks, Faith and Fortitude, are the title of an exhibit at Jerusalem’s Christ Church Heritage Centre inside Jaffa Gate.
The displays are a tribute to Sir William, the British officer who had the distinction of signing the telegram that ended World War I. Dobbie also commanded the restoration of order in British Palestine after the 1929 Arab riots, gaining respect of Jewish leadership.
Sir William was also later governor of Malta and steered that strategic Meditarranean island through a brutal siege by the Germans and Italians during World War II. The Daily Express described him “like the fighting Prophet, Joshua.” Truly, they spoke another language in the generation of our parents and grandparents!
The religious sensibilities of past generations would not be considered politically correct today. In 1929, when Dobbie and his troops were stationed near the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, the Bible Society distributed New Testaments to all the British soldiers serving in Palestine. Dobbie wrote a personal and very evangelical note that was inserted into each Bible:
You are stationed at the place where the entral event in human history occurred—namely the crucifixion of the Son of God. You may see the place where this happened and you may read the details in this book. . . . It was for your sake that the Son of God died on the cross here. The realisation of this fact cannot but produce a radical change in one’s life—and the study of this book will, under God’s guidance, help you to such a realisation.
The exhibit at Christ Church displays copies of personal papers, such as the World War I cease-fire telegram, as well as the notes of how Sir William influenced the handling of the riots here in the Holy Land. On display is an exquisite silver-covered Bible given to him as a gift of thanks and honour by Jewish leaders in Jerusalem.
Sir William was the father of a dear friend of ours who lived in Jerusalem in the 1980s. Col. Orde Dobbie was the youngest son of Sir William and in his retirement years, he worked at the Garden Tomb and was an important figure in the congretation of Christ Church. He was quite the personality, a quientessential Englishman, monocle and all. When he led a prayer meeting, he always had three military-style rules: Stand up, Speak up and Shut up!
The title of Sir William’s biography, “A Very Present Help,” is taken from Psalm 46: 1, God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. The book is a tribute to the faithfulness of God and chronicles miracles of prayer from the Wesltern front in 1918, from the Holy Land in 1929 and later in Malta in 1941. A Very Present Help can be read online.
It’s interesting that verse 9 of Psalm 46 says, “He maketh wars to cease. . . .” so Sir William partially fulfilled his favourite psalm. His signature was on the telegram on the 11th of November 1918 from General Headquarters informing all British troops that the war was over.
The Dobbies were closely related to Maj.-General Orde Wingate, the most famous gentile in the history of modern Israel. Wingate was the nephew of Sir William, who married Sybil Orde-Browne, youngest daughter of Capt. Orde-Browne of the Royal Artillery. Sybil’s older syster, Mary Ethel Orde-Browne was Wingate’s mother.
Wingate was known affectionately to the Jewish men he commanded during the Arab revolt as “The Friend.” I also want to be Israel’s friend in a time when the Jewish nation desperately needs friends. Because Wingate is a family name on my maternal side, I also claim to be a distant relative. And so in the 1980s, I appeared as a news anchor on World News Tonight of Middle East TV with a required pseudonym– “Christine Wingate.”
Israel will not always be so unpopular! Some day soon, when Messiah returns to Jerusalem, faith and fortitude will be requirements of all who reign with the Lord. Returning with Yeshua to rule with a rod of iron will be the great saints of the ages, and faithful men like Wingate, Sir Willliam Dobbie and his son, my prayer mentor, Col. Orde Dobbie, of blessed memory.
When my husband was led by God in 1986 to start a work for CBN’s 700 Club in Britain, I was heartsick to leave Israel. In those days I was leading a revival at Christ Church among Arabs and ministering every week to soldiers. Col. Dobbie told me that he and his wife had prayed a whole day about our move, and the Lord had assured him, “Christine will not leave Jerusalem!” That word was a great comfort to my soul, and it has surely come to pass. In time, the Lord brought me back. Although the Lord has graciously expanded our ministry world-wide, our ministry base for many years has indeed been Jerusalem, according to the pattern of the Great Commission in Acts 1:8.
When Jesus returns, Israel will be the chief of nations, the third in a messianic league with Egypt and Assyria. The Palestinian question will be solved and perfect justice will be served in the region. Men and women who have grasped the bigger picture of God’s eternal purposes, those schooled in the Bible like the Dobbies, will be entrusted with the rulership of this world. Meanwhile, politicians and leaders who know nothing of the Bible, who remove the Word of God from our schools and military, will be cast into outer darkness.
The timely Dobbie exhibit, “Faith and Fortitude,” will be on view for a year and is well worth a visit to appreciate the spiritual ties of how God once used Britain to fulfil the restoration of His people to their ancient homeland.
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