Biography of Famous Preacher D.L. Moody Part 1

About the famous American preacher D.L. Moody, biography and history of the church revivalist.

D.L. MOODY (1837-1899)

The big, full-bearded figure of Dwight Lyman Moody straddles the 19th century as a flesh-and-blood link joining the camp-meeting Calvinism of the early frontier with the business efficiency of the modern revival.

Moody was of a generation of farm boys who went to the big city at a time of extravagant possibilities for a young man of grit and energy. Like his contemporaries--McCormick, Armour, Morgan--his was the gospel according to Horatio Alger. He shared their convictions and world view and adapted their techniques to the business of saving souls.

Yet, his biographers agree: Moody's most imminent qualities were his sincerity, broad humanity, and plain-dealing sense of doing God's work. It would be for later men and women to drown out the sermon with the clang of the cash register.

Young D.L. (he hated his 1st 2 names and never used them) seemed bound for anything but glory in the early days near Northfield, Mass. His father drank much, worked little, and died when D.L. was only 4. The widow and 9 children faced a grim world with little more than creditors to keep them company. Moody stopped his formal education at 10 and hired out as a farmhand. But he hated farming as much as he had hated schooling. At 17 he made the inevitable trek to Boston, where a maternal uncle agreed to teach him the retail shoe business. A condition of his employment was that the country nephew would shun the city evils and straightaway join the Congregational Church (the Moodys had been nominal Unitarians back in Northfield).

In the next 2 years the country bumpkin became a super shoe salesman, pledged his life to Christ from the back of a shoe store, and set out for Chicago, where there were fortunes to be made.

In the lush, ravenous atmosphere of Chicago in the 1850s Moody's life diverged on 2 tracks. By selling shoes, collecting debts, and speculating in land, he was soon on his way toward his ambition of earning $100,000. He onced loaned a man $100 at 17% interest a day!

But his life as a churchman was growing, too. Though unordained and undereducated, D.L. Moody began a remarkable ministry as an itinerant Sabbath school worker among the poor and derelict in Chicago's seamier neighborhoods. He stalked the red-light districts and shantytowns, pockets filled with sugar candy for recruiting dead-end kids into his ragtag Sunday school class. In what he later called "the severest struggle of my life," Moody turned away from business, gave his money to charity, and began a fevered search for God's "lost lambs" in the emergent urban jungle.

For all his exposure to the cruelties of modern industrial life, Moody never was a social reformer. The horrors of the day only convinced him more of the need for individual submission to Jesus. Later, during the Civil War, as a missionary at the front, Moody would move among the wounded soldiers asking each: "Are you a Christian?" It is said that if he found a man already "saved," Moody would move on, searching for those who needed to be kept alive until they could be converted. Harvesting souls for Christ was Moody's mission. Life's bitter blows--whether a shell-maimed soldier or a family marred by the factory--would take care of themselves once conversion had occurred.

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