The Salvation Army began in 1865 when William Booth, a London minister, gave up the comfort of his pulpit and decided to take his message into the streets where it would reach the poor, the homeless, the hungry and the destitute.​

His original aim was to send converts to established churches of the day, but soon realized that the poor did not feel comfortable or welcome in the pews of most of the churches and chapels of Victorian England. Regular churchgoers were appalled when these shabbily dressed, unwashed people came to join them in worship.​

Booth decided to start a church especially for them and named it the East London Christian Mission. The mission grew slowly, but Booth’s faith in God remained undiminished.​

In May of 1878, Booth summoned his son, Bramwell, and his good friend George Railton to proofread the Christian Mission’s annual report. At the top it read: THE CHRISTIAN MISSION is A VOLUNTEER ARMY. Bramwell strongly objected to this wording. He was not a volunteer: he was compelled to do God’s work. So, in a flash of inspiration, Booth crossed out “Volunteer” and wrote “Salvation”. The Salvation Army was born.​

By the 1900s, the Army had spread around the world. The Salvation Army soon had officers and soldiers in 36 countries, including the United States of America. This well-organised yet flexible structure inspired a great many much-needed services: women’s social work, the first food depot, the first day nursery and the first Salvation Army missionary hospital. During World War II, The Salvation Army operated 3,000 service units for the armed forces, which led to the formation of the United Service Organizations.​

Today, The Salvation Army is present in over 134 countries and continues to work where the need is greatest, guided by faith in God and love for all people.​


The Salvation Army began work in Malaysia (then Malaya) in 1938 when Adjutant & Mrs Frederick W. Harvey were appointed to Penang. They started their ministries at a former YMCA building and learnt to speak Malay. The work then expanded when the Penang Boys Home was opened.​

The Army then spread its services to other parts of Malaysia:​

1940 – Ipoh & Melaka​
1950 – Kuching​
1955 – Batang Melaka​
1966 – Kuala Lumpur​
1995 – Banting, Bintulu & Kota Kinabalu​
2001 – Petaling Jaya​

Through the years, The Salvation Army has reached out with care and compassion to many individuals and families across Malaysia. With a strong focus on social ministries, the Army in Malaysia has become well known for its residential care facilities and through its community-based services.​