William Ashley Sunday was born on November 19, 1862 in Ames, Iowa. He was destined to become of the greatest preachers since the apostle Paul.
Billy Sunday's style of preaching won him an enormous amount of newspaper exposure, as did the enthusiasm with which his campaigns were received. He used colorful, slangy language and entertained and instructed his audiences with mimicry, impersonations, as well as memorable epigrams and anecdotes.
His messages laid great stress on every human being's need for personal salvation through Jesus Christ and on the authority and reliability of the Bible. He was also a strong critic of alcoholic beverages and favored their prohibition in his most famous sermon, Get on the Water Wagon. He was a popular speaker on the Chautauqua lecture circuit as well.
For most of his ministry, Sunday had vocal critics as well as defenders. Like famous evangelists who preceded him, he was taken to task by liberal church leaders for being too simplistic in his theology, while others insisted that he placed too much emphasis on individual piety and salvation at the expense of social reform. Some ministers who participated in his campaigns complained that they received little benefit from the meetings because those who came forward already belonged to churches or had only a vague idea of what Sunday was asking them to commit themselves. Secular journalists, such as John Reed and George Creel, accused Sunday of being a tool used by the ruling elite to defuse lower class discontent.
The suspicion was often expressed or inferred in newspapers that Sunday was little more than a grafter getting wealthy from his temporary congregations. Supporters, however, disagreed that Sunday's meetings did not produce results, denied any personal dishonesty on his part, and dismissed criticisms of his theology since the criticisms were based on a world view and understanding of Christ's gospel very different than Sunday's. source - Wheaton
The Amazing, True Story Of Billy Sunday From Baseball Star To Preacher
"I've stood for more sneers and scoffs and insults and had my life threatened from one end of the land to the other by this God-forsaken gang of thugs and cutthroats because I have come out uncompromisingly against them." -- Billy Sunday
Take me out of the ball game. A lot of people know that Billy Sunday was one of the fieriest, most-powerful speakers for God that our modern times have ever witnessed. But what a lot of people don't know is that he started his career as a very popular baseball star, who set many records that were not broken until years after he retired. And unlike a lot of the popular preachers of our day, Billy Sunday was a man's man in every sense of the word.
Before his salvation, Billy Sunday was a man of the world - drinking, smoking, famous, and running with the boys until he
came face to face with Jesus of Nazareth.
Billy Sunday Gets Saved
Billy was recruited to play for the Chicago White Stockings (Sox) in 1883. On a Sunday afternoon during either the 1886 or 1887 baseball season, Sunday and his teammates had indulged in some alcoholic beverages were wandering the streets of Chicago on their day off. At one corner, they stopped to listen to a street preaching team from the Pacific Garden Mission.
Since 1877, the Pacific Garden Mission has not closed it's doors one, single night. Hundreds of thousands of lost souls have
been radically changed and given new life in Jesus Christ - along with 3 hots meals a day, new clothes and a clean bed.
Sunday was immediately entranced, as the group was performing old gospel songs that he had (in his too-brief childhood) heard his mother sing. As a result, he later began attending services at the mission and was informed that it imperative that he accept Christ into his life. After some internal struggle, he did so. The effect was immediate. Sunday stopped drinking and began faithfully attending the fashionable Jefferson Park Presbyterian Church, a congregation handy to both the ball park and his rented room. Even before his conversion, Sunday's lifestyle seems to have been less boisterous than that of the average contemporary baseball player. Nevertheless, after his conversion, the changes in his behavior were recognized by both teammates and fans. Thereafter, Sunday decided to spread the Word himself, and began speaking in churches and at YMCAs. source - Lyle Dorsett
"Let's quit fiddling with religion and do something to bring the world to Christ." - Billy Sunday
The Sawdust Trail
Sunday's campaigns were held in temporary wooden structures or tabernacles, built for the event. Sawdust covered the tabernacle floor. Those who responded to Sunday's appeal to trust Christ walked up the sawdust covered aisles to shake the evangelist's hand. These campaigns, however, were preceded by extensive planning and prayer, and there was usually a follow-up program.
Billy Sunday during a tent meeting on the Sawdust Trail
A Sunday campaign was the product of the contributions of many people. Sunday developed a team of co-workers which traveled with him and handled various duties, including administration and music. Key figures on this team were his wife Helen (or Ma), musicians Homer Rodeheaver and B.D. Ackley, and businesswoman Virginia Asher. Local clergy and lay volunteers were also instrumental in planning and running a Sunday evangelistic campaign. source - Wheaton
Newpaper clippings of Billy Sunday at the height of his powers as he shook America to her core
The Booze Sermon
Billy Sunday led a life-long crusade against the enslaving and debilitaion power of booze. He was not shy about what he believed, and he soon became the sworn enemy of the liquor industry. Here is a sampling of his famouse Booze Sermon:
I am the sworn, eternal and uncompromising enemy of the liquor traffic. I have been, and will go on, fighting that damnable, dirty, rotten business with all the power at my command. I shall ask no quarter from that gang, and they shall get none from me. After all is said that can be said on the liquor traffic, its influence is degrading on the individual, the family, politics and business and upon everything that you touch in this old world. For the time has long gone by when there is any ground for arguments of its ill effects. All are agreed on that point. There is just one prime reason why the saloon has not been knocked into hell, in that is the false statement "that the saloons are needed to help lighten the taxes." It costs fifty times more for the saloon than the revenue derived from it. I challenge you to show me where the saloon has ever helped business, education, church morals or anything we hold dear. You listen today and if I can't peel the bark off that damnable fallacy I will pack my trunk and leave. I say that is the biggest lie ever belched out. The wholesale and retail trade in Iowa pays every year at least $500,000 in licenses. Then, if there were no drawback, it ought to reduce the taxation 25 cents per capita. If the saloon is necessary to pay the taxes, and if they pay $500,000 in taxes, it ought to reduce them 25 cents a head. But no, the whiskey business has increased taxes $1,900,000 instead of reducing them, and I defy any whisky man on God's dirt to show one town that has the saloon where the taxes are lower than where they do not have the saloon. I defy you to show me an instance.
Listen! Seventy-five per cent of our idiots come from intemperate parents, 80 per cent of the paupers, 82 per cent of the crime is committed by men under the influence of liquor, 90 per cent of the adult criminals are whiskey made. The Chicago Tribune kept track for 10-years and found that 53,438 murders were committed in the saloons. Archbishop Ireland, the famous Roman Catholic of St. Paul, said of social crime "that 75 per cent is caused by drink and 80 per cent of the poverty." I go to a family and it is broken up and I say, "what caused this?" Drink! I step up to a young man on the scaffold and say, "what brought you here?" Drink! Whence all the misery and sorrow and corruption? Invariably it is drink. Whiskey and beer are all right in their place, but their place is in hell. The saloon hasn't one leg to stand on. Five Points, in New York, was a spot as near like hell as any spot on earth. There are five streets that run to this point, and right in the middle was an old brewery, and the streets on either side were lined with grog shops. The newspapers turned a search light on the districts, and before they could stop it the first thing they had to do was to buy the old brewery and turn it into a mission, and today it is a decent, respectable place. Look at Kansas. It is dry. In 85 of 105 counties in Kansas there is not one idiot. In 38 counties they have not a single pauper in the poorhouse, and there are only 600 dependents in the whole State. In 65 counties in Kansas they did not have a single prisoner in the county jails in the year 1912, and in some of the counties the grand jury hasn't been called to try a criminal case in 10 years.
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