D L Moody

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Biography of D.L. Moody

Written by: Unknown    Posted on: 03/13/2003

Category: Biographies

Source: CCN

Dwight Lyman Moody BORN: February 5, 1837 DIED: December 22, 1899
Northfield, Massachusetts[qm]Northfield, Massachusetts LIFE SPAN: 62
years, 10 months, 17 days

DWIGHT LYMAN MOODY was the first evangelist since Whitefield to shake two continents for God.

was on his mother's birthday that Moody was born on a small New England
farm. He was only four when his father, Edwin, a bricklayer and an
alcoholic, died suddenly at 41. His mother, Betsy (Holton), was now a
widow at 36 with seven children...the oldest being thirteen, and D.L.
being the youngest. Twins were born one month after the death of the
father bringing the total to nine. Their uncle and the local Unitarian
pastor came to their aid at this time. The pastor also baptized Moody
(age five) in 1842. This was undoubtedly sprinkling and his only
"baptism" experience.

Six-year-old Moody never forgot seeing his
brother Isaiah leave home. The reconciliation, years later, became an
illustration in a sermon depicting God welcoming the wanderer home with
outstretched arms. Moody's education totaled seven grades in a one-room
school house and during his teenage years he worked on neighboring

On his seventeenth birthday (1854), Dwight Moody went to
Boston to seek employment. He became a clerk in Holton's Shoe Store,
his uncle's enterprise. One of the work requirements was attendance at
the Mount Vernon Congregational Church, pastored by Edward Kirk. Church
seemed boring, but a faithful Sunday School teacher encouraged him
along. One Saturday, April 21, 1855, the teacher, Edward Kimball,
walked into the store and found Moody wrapping shoes. He said, "I want
to tell you how much Christ loves you." Moody knelt down and was
converted. Later he told how he felt, "I was in a new world. The birds
sang sweeter, the sun shone brighter. I'd never known such peace." Not
sure of his spiritual perception, it was a year before the church
admitted him for membership!

On September 18, 1856, he arrived
in Chicago where another uncle, Calvin, helped him obtain a position in
a shoe store operated by the Wiswall brothers. His interest in church
work continued as he joined the Plymouth Congregational Church. He
rented four pews there to provide lonely boys like himself a place of
worship. Then he joined the mission band of the First Methodist Church,
visiting and distributing tracts at hotels and boarding houses. Here he
met wealthy dry goods merchant John V. Farwell, who later would be a
great help. He also worked out of the First Baptist Church where he was
later married. The prayer revival that was sweeping the nation in
1857-59 also contributed to his enthusiasm for the things of God.
Discovering a little afternoon Sunday School on the corner of Chicago
and Wells he offered his help. He was told there were already nearly as
many teachers as students so he began recruiting. The first week he
brought in eighteen students, doubling the Sunday School! Soon his
recruiting overflowed the place.

He withdrew to the shores of
Lake Michigan in the summer of 1858 and taught children, using pieces
of driftwood as chairs. He was dubbed "Crazy Moody" about this time,
but respect came through the years as the title slowly changed to
"Brother Moody," "Mr. Moody," and finally, "D.L. Moody."

In the
fall of 1858, he started his own Sunday School in an abandoned freight
car, then moved to an old vacant saloon on Michigan Street. A visiting
preacher reported his favorable impressions...seeing Moody trying to
light the building with a half-dozen candles and then with a candle in
one hand, a Bible in the other, and a child on his knee teaching him
about Jesus.

The school became so large that the former Mayor of
Chicago gave him the hall over the city's North Market for his
meetings, rent free. Farwell visited the Sunday School and became the
superintendent upon Moody's insistence. The use of prizes, free pony
rides and picnics along with genuine love for children soon produced
the largest Sunday School in Chicago, reaching some 1,500 weekly. Moody
supervised, recruited, and did the janitor work early Sunday morning,
cleaning out the debris from a Saturday night dance, to get ready for
the afternoon Sunday School.

It was in June, 1860, that Moody
decided to abandon secular employment and go into the Lord's work full
time. He was now 23 and in only five years had built his income up to
$5,000 annually and had saved $7,000. Friends believed he could have
become a millionaire had he concentrated his efforts in business.
Income for the first year in his Christian ventures totaled no more
than $300.

This decision was prompted by the following incident.
A dying Sunday School teacher had to return east because of his health
and was greatly concerned about the salvation of the girls in his
class. Moody rented a carriage for him and the teacher and went to each
girl's home winning them all to Christ. The next night the girls
gathered together for a farewell prayer meeting to pray for their sick
teacher. This so moved Moody that soul- winning seemed to be the only
important thing to do from then on. He made a vow to tell some person
about the Savior each day, even though it eventually meant getting up
out of bed at times.

On November 25, 1860, President-elect Abraham Lincoln visited Moody's Sunday School and gave a few remarks.

In 1861 Moody became a city missionary for the YMCA.

married Emma Charlotte Revell on August 28, 1862 when he was 25 and she
nineteen. The three Moody children were Emma (October 24, 1864),
William Revell (March 25, 1869), and Paul Dwight (April 11, 1879).

the advent of the Civil War, Moody found himself doing personal work
among the soldiers. He was on battlefields on nine occasions serving
with the U.S. Christian Commission. At the Battle of Murfreesboro in
January, 1863, under fire, he went among the wounded and dying asking,
"Are you a Christian?"

During the Civil War, he was also back at
his Sunday School from time to time, where popular demand forced him to
start a church. A vacant saloon was cleaned, rented and fixed up for
Sunday evening services with the Sunday School continuing at North
Market Hall until it burned in 1862. Then Kinzie Hall was used for a
year. In 1863, when only 26, he raised $20,000 to erect the Illinois
Street Church with a seating capacity of 1,500. It began February 28,
1864 with twelve members. This was the official beginning of what is
now known as Moody Church. He preached Sunday evenings until a pastor,
J.H. Harwood, was called in 1866 and served until 1869, during which
time Moody served as a deacon.

The Chicago Y.M.C.A. was moving
ahead also, as Moody rose to its presidency from 1866 to 1869. He had a
part in erecting the first Y.M.C.A. building in America when he
supervised the erection of Farwell Hall in 1867, seating 3,000. That
year he also held his first revival campaign in Philadelphia.

1867, primarily due to his wife's asthma, the couple went to England.
He also wanted to meet Spurgeon and Mueller. On this trip, while they
sat in a public park in Dublin, Evangelist Henry Varley remarked, "The
world has yet to see what God will do with, and for, and through, and
in, and by, the man who is fully consecrated to Him." John Knox
allegedly originated this saying that was now to burn in Moody's soul
(some historians put this Varley conversation in an 1872 trip). Moody
met Henry Moorhouse also in Dublin, who said to him, "Some day I am
coming to America, and when I do, I would like to preach in your
church." Moody agreed to give him the pulpit when he came.

incidents prepared Moody for his world-famous evangelistic crusades.
First, in February, 1868, Moorhouse came as promised to Moody's pulpit
in Chicago. For seven nights he preached from the text, John 3:16,
counselling Moody privately, "Teach what the Bible says, not your own
words, and show people how much God loves them." Moody's preaching was
much more effective after that.

A second incident was the
meeting of Ira A. Sankey, while attending a Y.M.C.A. convention in
Indianapolis in July of 1870. Moody was to speak at a 7 a.m. prayer
meeting on a Sunday morning. Sankey was there. When Moody asked for a
volunteer song, Sankey began to sing, There Is a Fountain Filled with
Blood. Moody's reaction? "You will have to come to Chicago and help me.
I've been looking for you for eight years!" Sankey left his post office
job in Pennsylvania and joined Moody in Chicago in early 1871.

third incident was the Chicago fire and the ensuing filling of the Holy
Spirit. On Sunday night, October 8, 1871, while preaching at Farwell
Hall, which was now being used because of the increased crowds, Moody
asked his congregation to evaluate their relationships to Christ and
return next week to make their decisions for Him. That crowd never
regathered. While Sankey was singing a closing song, the din of fire
trucks and church bells scattered them forever, for Chicago was on
fire. The Y.M.C.A. building, church, and parsonage were all to be lost
in the next 24 hours. The church was reopened on December 24, 1871, and
it was now called the North Side Tabernacle, located on Ontario and
Wells Street, close to the former building. There was no regular pastor
at this church in its brief history 1871-1876.

While out east
raising funds for the rebuilding of this church, Moody describes a
life-changing experience he had upon locking himself in a room of a
friend's house: "One day, in the city of New York, oh what a day! I
cannot describe it. I seldom refer to it. It's almost too sacred an
experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for
fourteen years. I can only say that God was revealed to me, and I had
such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand."

1872, he returned briefly to England where he accepted an invitation to
the Arundel Square Congregational Church in London. The evening service
ended with nearly the entire congregation in the inquiry room. He
continued on for ten days with some 400 people saved. It was learned
that an invalid had been praying for two years for him to come to the

Three English men invited him back the following year.
With their families, Moody and Sankey left June 7, 1873. Little did
they know that they were going to shake England as Whitefield and
Wesley had 125 years previously. Two of the sponsors had died by the
time they arrived and they were fortunate to get an invitation to
conduct some meetings at the York Y.M.C.A. Five weeks of meetings saw
250 won to Christ. F.B. Meyer was the principal supporter. Then they
traveled on to Sunderland for five weeks with Arthur A. Rees, the host.
Next came Newcastle where the meetings were gigantic with special
trains bringing people in from surrounding areas. Here a novel all-day
meeting was held and their first hymn book was introduced to the public.

being invited to Scotland, the evangelists began in Edinburgh on
November 23. For hundreds of years, only Psalms had been sung here with
no musical instruments. Now Sankey began "singing the Gospel" and
crowds packed out the 2,000-seat auditorium. By the time the last
service was over on January 20th, Moody was receiving requests from all
over the British Isles. They spent two weeks in Dundee and then began
the Glasgow, Scotland, crusade on February 8, 1874. These meetings soon
moved into the 4,000-seat Crystal Palace and after three months
climaxed with a service at the famed Botanic Gardens Palace. Moody was
unable to even enter the building surrounded by 15,000 to 30,000
people, so he spoke to them from a carriage and the choir sang from the
roof of a nearby shed! Later the team returned to Edinburgh for a May
24 meeting held on the slopes of "Arthur's Seat" with a crowd of
20,000. An estimated 3,500 converts were won in each of these two

Now Ireland was calling, so they began at Belfast on
September 6, 1874. People flocked to hear them and the largest
buildings of each city were used. A great climactic service was held in
the Botanic Gardens on October 8, in the open air with thousands
attending. One final service was held October 15 with admission by
ticket only. Tickets were given only to those who wanted to be saved.
Two thousand, four hundred came. Next it was Dublin (October
26-November 29,) where even the Irish Catholics were glad at the
awakening amongst their Protestant neighbors. The Exhibition Hall
seating 10,000 was filled night after night with an estimated 3,000 won
to Christ.

Back in England on November 29, the Manchester
crusade was held at the Free Trade Hall. No hall was large enough! As
many as 15,000 were trying to gain admission for a single service. Next
came Sheffield for two weeks beginning on December 31st, then
Birmingham with untold blessing. The January 17-29, 1875 crusade
noonday prayer meetings drew 3,000. Bingley Hall seated only 11,000 but
crowds of 15,000 came nightly. Liverpool was next, where the 8,000-seat
Victoria Hall was used from February 7 to March 7.

Finally, it
was the London Crusade climaxing the tour. It was a four-month
encounter from March 9 to July 11. Five weeks of preaching began in the
Agricultural Hall in the northern part of the city. Then he moved to
the east side in the 9,000-seat Bow Road Hall for four weeks. Next came
the west side in The Royal Haymarket Opera House. Often, during this
time, Moody would hold a 7:30 meeting with the poor on the east side,
and then shuttle over for a 9 p.m. service with the fashionable. Then
on the south side of London he spoke for several weeks in the Victoria
Theatre until a special tabernacle seating 8,000 was constructed on
Camberwell Green where he finished this crusade. A total of two and
one-half million people attended! The awakening became world news and
it was estimated that 5,000 came to Christ. A final preaching service
was held in Liverpool on August 3rd before sailing for America. He
arrived home August 14 and hurried to Northfield to conduct a revival.
His mother, many friends and relatives were saved there. Invitations
for city-wide crusades were coming from many places in America now.

first city-wide crusade in America was in Brooklyn beginning October
31, 1875, at the Clermont Avenue Rink, seating 7,000. Only non-church
members could get admission tickets as 12,000 to 20,000 crowds were
turned away. Over 2,000 converts resulted.

Next came
Philadelphia starting on November 21 with nightly crowds of 12,000. The
Philadelphia crusade was held at the unused Pennsylvania freight depot
which John Wanamaker had purchased. It was located at Tenth and Market.
His ushers were very well trained, capable of seating 1,000 people per
minute, and vacating the premises of some 13,000 in 4 minutes if
needed. The doors were opened one and a half hours early and in 10
minutes the 12,000 seats were taken. On January 19, 1876 President
Grant and some of his cabinet attended. Total attendance was 1,050,000
with 4,000 decisions for Christ.

Next it was the New York
crusade running from February 7 to April 19, 1876. The meetings were
held in the Great Roman Hippodrome on Madison Avenue, where the Madison
Square Gardens now stands. Two large halls gave a combined seating
attendance of 15,000. Moody had just turned 39 for this crusade. Some
6,000 decisions came as a result of his ten-week crusade. Three to five
services a day were held with crowds up to 60,000 daily.

Back in
Chicago, his beloved church was expanding. Property had been purchased
on Chicago Avenue and LaSalle Street. Thousands of children contributed
five cents each for a brick in the new building. The basement, roofed
over, served as a meeting place for two years, then in 1876 the
building was completed and opened on June 1, 1876, and formally
dedicated on July 16 with Moody preaching. It was now called the
Chicago Avenue Church, and W.J. Erdman was called as pastor.

Chicago crusade started October 1, 1876 in a 10,000-seat tabernacle,
closing out on January 16, 1877. The sixteen-week crusade was held with
estimates being from 2,500 to 10,000 converts. Moody never kept records
of numbers of decisions, hence reports vary. The meetings were held in
a temporary tabernacle erected on Farwell's companies' property,
located at Monroe and Franklin, which was converted to a wholesale
store after the crusade.

The Boston crusade was held January 28
to May 1, 1877 in a tabernacle seating 6,000. The years 1877-78 saw
many smaller towns in the New England states being reached. The years
1878-79 saw Baltimore reached in 270 preaching engagements covering
seven months. In 1879-80, it was six months in St. Louis where a
notorious prisoner, Valentine Burke, was saved among others. In 1880-81
it was the Pacific coast, primarily San Francisco.

Moody went
back to England in September 1881, returning home for the summer of
1882. He returned for an important student crusade at Cambridge
University in the fall of 1882, then back to America, and returned the
following fall for a crusade in London from November 4, 1883 to January
19, 1884, where some two million heard him in various auditoriums.
Wilfred Grenfell was among those saved and young C.T. Studd was also
won indirectly.

From 1884 on, his crusades were smaller and
limited to October to April. He spent his summer months in Northfield,
Massachusetts for study, rest, family and development of his schools.

1884-1886 he was in many of the smaller cities of the nation, remaining
about three days in each place. In 1888-1889 he was on the Pacific
coast from Vancouver to San Diego. In 1890 he held his second crusade
in New York, in November and December.

A last trip was taken in
1891-92 to England, Scotland (99 towns), France, Rome and Palestine,
where he preached on the Mount of Olives on Easter Sunday morning. On
his trip home to America, he endured a shipwreck, a dark hour of his
life, but God spared him.

Peter Bilhorn, who substituted for
Sankey in the 1892 Buffalo, New York, crusade, tells his amazement at
Moody's personal work, observing him lead the driver of a carriage to
the Lord in the midst of a violent rainstorm.

In 1893 he had the
"opportunity of the century." The World's Columbian Exposition (World's
Fair) was to be held in Chicago from May 7 to October 31. He had a
burden to saturate Chicago with the gospel during this time. Using many
means and meetings in different languages, including 125 various Sunday
services, thousands were saved. Exactly 1,933,210 signed the guest
register of the Bible School.

In 1895 he had a large crusade in
Atlanta. That same year a roof collapsed on a crowd of 4,000 at Fort
Worth, Texas. Fortunately, there were no deaths.

In 1897 he conducted another large Chicago crusade, packing out a 6,000-seat auditorium.

church which was renamed Moody Church in 1901 (two years after his
death) continued to progress with the following pastors: Erdman
(1876-78), Charles M. Morton (1878-79), George C. Needham (1879-81), no
regular pastor (1881-85), Charles F. Goss (1885-90), Charles A.
Blanchard (1891-93), and Reuben A. Torrey, who began as pastor in 1894.

interest in schools left him a lasting ministry. The forming of the
Northfield Seminary (now Northfield School for Girls) in 1879, and the
Mount Hermon Massachusetts School for Boys (1881) was the beginning.
The Chicago Evangelization Society (later Moody Bible Institute) was
opened with the first structure completed on September 26, 1889 with
R.A. Torrey in charge. The school was an outgrowth of the 1887 Chicago

In 1880 he started the famous Northfield Bible
Conferences which continued until 1902, bringing some of the best
speakers from both continents to the pulpit there. The world's first
student conference was held in 1885 and the Student Volunteer Movement
started two years later as a natural outgrowth.

In 1898 Moody
was chairman of the evangelistic department of the Army and Navy
Christian Commission of the Y.M.C.A. during the Spanish-American War.

started his last crusade in Kansas City in November, 1899. On November
16, he preached his last sermon on Excuses (Luke 14:16-24) and hundreds
were won to Christ that night. He was very ill afterward, the illness
thought to be fatty degeneration of the heart. Arriving home in
Northfield November 19 for rest, he climbed the stairs to his
bedroom--never to leave it again. He died about seven a.m. December 22,
with a note of victory. He is reported to have said such things as the
following at his death: "I see earth receding; heaven is approaching
(or opening). God is calling me. This is my triumph. This is my
coronation day. It is glorious. God is calling and I must go. Mama, you
have been a good wife...no pain...no valley...it's bliss."

funeral was on December 26 with C.I. Scofield, local Congregational
pastor, in charge. Memorial services were held in many leading cities
in America and Great Britain. Moody left to the world several books,
although he never wrote a book himself. His Gospel sermons, Bible
characters, devotional and doctrinal studies were all compiled rom his
spoken word, those after 1893 by A.P. Fitt. However, he read every
article and book before they were published. His innumerable converts
were estimated by some as high as 1,000,000.

R.A. Torrey, one of
his closest friends, writes his conclusions in his famous Why God Used
D.L. Moody: (1) fully surrendered, (2) man of prayer, (3) student of
the Word of God, (4) humble man, (5) freedom from love of money, (6)
consuming passion for the lost, (7) definite enduement with power from
on high.

Perhaps the world HAS seen what one man totally consecrated to God can do.

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