It has been 121 years since he went home to Heaven, but the legacy that D.L. Moody left behind continues to bear untold fruit for the Kingdom of God
Well I remember when I got saved back in 1991, plucked out of the fire of Hollywood and wonderfully put into the Body of Christ as a born again believer in Jesus. Shortly after that, someone placed in my hands a book about the life of a 19th century evangelist named D.L Moody, and what I read filled me with a passion for lost souls and would be the inspiration for my new-found Christian life. So much so that even this ministry which the Lord gave me, Now The End Begins, is bearing fruit that will be applied to Moody’s account at the Judgment Seat.
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5,6 (KJB)
D.L. Moody was a man born into poverty and hardship, was schooled only until the 6th grade, saved at 19 years old, entered full-time Christian service at 23, and would go on to be the greatest evangelist of the 19th century, and perhaps since the apostle Paul. He didn’t do it perfectly, received a fair amount of criticism in his day, and was in the unenviable position of having learn the Bible while preaching it. Yet towards the end of his life, he has this to say about his impending death:
Some day you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody, of East Northfield, is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now, I shall have gone up higher, that is all; out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal — a body that death cannot touch; that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like His glorious body. I was born of the flesh in 1837. I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die, that which is born of the Spirit will live forever.
Is that your testimony? It was Moody’s, and in the process of his preaching and teaching the Bible all across America and Europe, God used him to lead millions to the Lord Jesus Christ and hundred of thousands to become preachers, bible teachers, pastors and evangelists.
One of my favorite anecdotes about Moody revolves around the time he met with Scottish revivalist Henry Varley in 1873, and the two were having a conversation about the current state of the preaching campaign. During that private talk, Varley casually said to Moody that “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him”. This was Moody’s take on that event when asked about it years later:
“Ah,” said Mr. Moody, “those were the words sent to my soul, through you, from the Living God. As I crossed the wide Atlantic, the boards of the deck of the vessel were engraved with them, and when I reached Chicago, the very paving stones seemed marked with ‘Moody, the world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to him.’ Under the power of those words I have come back to England, and I felt that I must not let more time pass until I let you know how God had used your words to my inmost soul.”
Those words were sent to my soul, as a baby Christian in 1991, and continues to propel and inspire me to this day. Perhaps the biggest lesson we learn from the faithful life of D.L. Moody is that when we obey God and follow Him in service, what we do will work to lead and inspire others as well.
Here now we present to you a wonderful snapshot of the life and labor of D.L. Moody, enjoy!
At Mt. Vernon Moody became part of the Sunday school class taught by Edward Kimball. On April 21, 1855, Kimball visited the Holton Shoe Store, found Moody in a stockroom, and there spoke to him of the love of Christ. Shortly thereafter, Moody accepted the love of God and devoted his life to serving Him. The following year brought Moody to Chicago with dreams of making his fortune in the shoe business. As he achieved success in selling shoes, Moody grew interested in providing a Sunday School class for Chicago’s children and the local Young Men’s Christian Association.
During the revival of 1857 and 1858, Moody became more involved at the YMCA, performing janitorial jobs for the organization and serving wherever they needed him. In 1860 when he left the business world, he continued to increase his time spent serving the organization. In the YMCA’s 1861–1862 annual report, Moody was praised for all his efforts. Although they could not pay him, the YMCA recommended he stay “employed” as city missionary.
D.L. Moody was born on this day in 1837.
“I live for souls and for eternity; I want to win some soul to Christ. If you want this and work for it, eternity alone can tell the result. May God give us a passion for souls.” pic.twitter.com/uDIAN15gcc
— D.L. Moody (@DLMoodydaily) February 5, 2020
Moody’s Sunday School
Meanwhile, Moody’s Mission Sunday School flourished, and it was different. Moody’s desire was to reach the lost youth of the city: the children with little to no education, less than ideal family situations, and poor economic circumstances. Soon the Sunday School outgrew the converted saloon used as a meeting hall. As the classes grew, associates encouraged Moody to begin his own church. Eventually, on February 28, 1864, the Illinois Street Church (now The Moody Church) opened in its own building with Moody as pastor.
The Civil War
As the political landscape of the United States changed in the 1860s, Moody’s connection with the YMCA proved a useful tool in his ministry. With the Civil War approaching, the Union Army mobilized volunteer soldiers across the north. Camp Douglas was established outside of Chicago, which Moody saw as a great evangelistic opportunity. Along with a few others, Moody created the Committee on Devotional Meetings to minister to the troops stationed at Camp Douglas, the 72nd Illinois Volunteer Regiment. This was just the beginning of Moody’s Civil War outreach. From 1861 to 1865, he ministered on battlefields and throughout the city, state and country to thousands of soldiers, both Union and Confederate. All the while, he maintained the Mission Sunday School.
Moody Gets Married
While ministering in Chicago, Moody and his wife met a woman named Emma Dryer, a successful teacher and administrator. Moody was impressed with her zeal for ministry and her educational background. He knew that women had a unique ability to evangelize to mothers and children in a way that men never could, and saw Dryer as just the person to help him encourage this group. Moody asked Dryer to oversee a ministry specifically to train women for evangelistic outreach and missionary work. Under Dryer’s leadership, the training program grew rapidly, and so did her desire for this ministry to reach men as well as women. She continued to pray that the Lord would place the idea for such a school on Moody’s heart.
Heartache In The Chicago Fire
On Sunday, October 8, 1871, as Moody came to the end of his sermon for the evening, the city fire bell began to ring. At first, no one thought much about it, as these city bells often rung. However, this night was different—it was the beginning of the Great Chicago Fire. Moody’s first concern was for his family, locating them and making sure they were somewhere safe. After securing his family’s safety, Moody and his wife stayed on the north side of the city to help other residents. The fire finally burned out Tuesday afternoon, after consuming much of what Moody had built.
This was a poignant time in Moody’s life and the fire forced him to reevaluate his ministry. It was during this time of evaluation he realized he needed to heed the Lord’s call on his life. For years, he had been moving forward and then asking God to support his plans. He knew from this point on, his call was to preach the Word of God to the world.
In June 1872 Moody made his first trip to the United Kingdom. While he was there a few close contacts urged him to come back in a year. In June 1873, Moody and his family, and his good friend and musician Ira Sankey with his wife all traveled from New York to Liverpool, England. Moody and Sankey traveled throughout the UK and Ireland holding meetings, helping fuel the revival that was slowly sweeping the region. Moody’s visit made a lasting impression, and inspired lay people across the region to begin children’s ministries and ministry training schools for women.
Moody was revolutionary in his evangelistic approach. Despite conflicting counsel from friends and trusted contacts, he and Sankey traveled to Ireland during a time when Catholics and Protestants were constantly at odds with each other. Moody was different: he did not care what denomination a person claimed, but just wanted the message of Christ to be heard. As a result, the revival swept into Ireland, and he won praises of both Catholics and Protestants.
After two years overseas, the Moody family finally returned to the United States. They settled in Northfield, where Moody was born and raised, and he began to plan his next round of evangelistic city campaigns. From October 1875 to May 1876, Moody and three other evangelists toured through the major cities of the Midwest and Atlantic coast, preaching the message of salvation. Moody would embark on yet another city campaign before the desire to train young Christian workers would grip him again.
Moody was on the cutting edge of ministry, and in 1879, Moody opened the Northfield Seminary for Young Women to provide young women the opportunity to gain an education. Not long after, Moody created the Mount Hermon School for Boys with the same goal as the girls’ school: to educate the poor and minorities. Moody had an amazing ability to bridge the gap between denominations, which was apparent in the diverse religious backgrounds of the school’s students.
In 1886 Dryer’s prayers were answered and the Chicago Evangelization Society (today, Moody Bible Institute) was founded. Moody had been focused on ministry near his home in Northfield but he came out to Chicago to help raise money for the Society, support Dryer, and see his dream become a reality. The Chicago Evangelization Society had been Moody’s vision but really came to fruition because of Dryer’s hard work. See History of Moody Bible Institute.
That same year, Moody assembled a large group of college students at Mount Hermon for the first “College Students’ Summer School.” This conference would birth the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions. By 1911 it was estimated that 5,000 student volunteers from America alone had come out of the program. Moody’s vision for the mission movement grew as it spread around the world to Europe and South Africa.
D.L. Moody Founder Of Moody Bible Institute
The story of evangelist, teacher and urban ministry pioneer, Dwight Lyman (D.L.) Moody, the founder of Moody Bible Institute and it’s original ministries.
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