Dwight L. Moody came to the Lord in a Boston shoe store while a teenager. Though poorly educated, he possessed boundless energy that quickly funneled itself into soul-winning. He moved to Chicago, took up children’s work, and grew his Sunday school to over a thousand pupils. But though outwardly flourishing, Moody was inwardly frustrated, sensing a lack of spiritual power, struggling with the notion that God wanted him to leave Chicago to become an itinerant evangelist, something he wasn’t willing to do.

On October 8, 1871 Moody spoke to his Sunday school listeners, asking them to consider responding to Christ on the following Sunday—but they never got that chance. As services ended fire alarms sounded in the streets. The meeting closed in panic, and the young people left the building to find the city in terror. Flames leapt into the sky, swallowing whole buildings. Gas mains were exploding, and the streets became clogged with fleeing humanity. The Great Chicago Fire burned from Sunday to Wednesday, and Moody lost both his church building and his home.

Deeply shaken, Moody quickly left Chicago for New York seeking funds for rebuilding his work, but “my heart was not in the work of begging.” While walking down Wall Street, he had a spiritual experience so powerful that he seldom referred to it afterward. “I was crying all the time that God would fill me with His Spirit. Well, one day, in the city of New York—ah, what a day!—I cannot describe it. I seldom refer to it, it is 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 revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand.”

From that day, whenever, wherever Moody preached, hundreds of people were saved, and he spent the rest his life traveling the globe as the most famous and effective evangelist for Christ in the nineteenth century.

God told us to announce clearly to the people that Jesus is the one he has chosen to judge the living and the dead. Every one of the prophets has said that all who have faith in Jesus will have their sins forgiven in his name. (Acts 10:42,43)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Oct.8.

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