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16 March 2000

PROMOTION TO GLORY OF MRS COMMISSIONER FLORA LARSSON (R)

Author: International News


A message from the Chief of the Staff, Commissioner John Larsson:

I AM grateful to the General for getting word out to the territories within hours of the promotion to Glory of my mother, Mrs Commissioner Flora Larsson, on Sunday 12 March 2000. This message gives me the opportunity to share with you something of the story of this quite remarkable woman, who became known to thousands through her writings.

Flora Benwell was born in Buenos Aires in 1904, the third child of Staff Captain and Mrs Alfred Benwell, pioneer officers in Argentina. Her father was English, her mother Swedish. The family returned to England in 1905, where she grew up. She had three nationalities: British, Swedish and Argentine.

As a young adult she was a very active Salvationist and youth worker in Penge Corps in London. She entered training from Denmark, where her parents were then stationed, and was a cadet-sergeant before being commissioned to France in 1927. This was the first of many international appointments, adding up to more than 40 years of overseas service.

In 1934 she married Captain Sture Larsson, a Swedish officer serving in England. Following service as corps officers at Streatham and Loughborough Junction Corps, the couple were appointed to Sweden and, some years later, to Denmark. Then followed a series of territorial leadership appointments that took them to South America West, South America East, Denmark again, France, Finland and Norway. My father’s last appointment was as International Secretary for Europe. He was promoted to Glory in 1974, after they had been retired just six months.

During the years of international service, Flora Larsson was a captivating speaker in six different languages, and she also wrote articles and regular columns for national and international Army publications. One much loved War Cry series, 'Just a Moment, Lord', was published in book form in 1973. It went into three printings with Hodder and Stoughton, three printings with Harold Shaw Publishers in the USA and was then reprinted again by Marshall, Morgan and Scott. When the book was first published, Flora Larsson was invited to read some of the prayers on the BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme. She also read 24 of the prayers as epilogues on Anglia Television. The book was translated into many languages.

Just a Moment, Lord was the first of five books of prayer poems that seemed to strike a chord with readers all over the world. In Norway alone, around 100,000 copies of these books have been sold. Among other books by Flora Larsson are My Best Men are Women (1974) and From my Treasure Chest (1981). In retirement, she contributed a very popular page to The Deliverer, 'Along the Way’, for 18 years. Flora Larsson’s writings have always been marked by their simple everyday language and a touch of humour that is never far away.

My sister, Lieut-Colonel Miriam Frederiksen, Under-Secretary for Europe North, and I count it a great privilege to have been born into a family that was the epitome of Army internationalism. With our parents moving every three years to a new country, mother was all the permanency and consistency we needed to feel secure as we adjusted to new surroundings, new schools and usually a new language. She successfully shielded us from the worries of appointment demands, of learning new languages, of limited financial resources, far away from the support of family and friends. Our international background has enriched our lives immeasurably.

Flora Larsson was a superb organiser, amazingly resourceful, inventive and practical and in every sense a communicator. Her weekly letters to her children were a fascinating source of news, humour and helpful advice. She built up one-to-one personal contacts with many individuals, whom she was able to encourage and counsel, and during her 26 years of retirement developed her own special ministry to other people. She also followed the lives of her four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren with great interest and love.

As evidenced in her writings, Flora Larsson’s walk with the Lord was close and rewarding. She loved nature and she would commune with her Master in her beloved garden, or through nature programmes on television, marvelling at the wonders of God’s creation. The determination expressed in one of her songs was true to the end: to turn her life into an active quest, to plumb the depths of God’s design and to taste the riches of his wondrous love.

It will be my privilege to conduct the Funeral Service on Monday 20 March at Bromley Temple Corps in the United Kingdom, where she was a soldier for many years. It will be a service of thanksgiving to God, a celebration of life lived in all its fullness.

May God bless you. Thank you for being willing to enter into our lives at this time.

 

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