At the 1771 Methodist Conference in England, John Wesley said, “Our brethren in America call for help. Who is willing to go over?” Francis Asbury, five-foot-six, 150 pounds, sat listening. For months the young man had longed to visit America. So I spoke my mind, and made an offer of myself. It was accepted by Mr. Wesley, who judged I had a call.
Asbury returned home to break the news to his parents. Though it was grievous, they consented to let me go. My mother is one of the tenderest parents in the world; I believe she was blessed in the present instance with Divine assistance to part with me.
He sailed on September 4. For three days I was very ill with the seasickness; and no sickness I ever knew was equal to it. But he soon recovered enough to gather his thoughts: I will set down a few things that lie on my mind. Whither am I going? To the New World. What to do? To gain honor? No, if I know my own heart. To get money? No: I am going to live to God, and to bring others so to do.
Asbury arrived in America on October 27, 1771. This day we landed in Philadelphia where we were directed to the house of Mr. Francis Harris who kindly entertained us and brought us to a large church where we met with a considerable congregation. The people looked on us with pleasure, receiving us as angels of God. When I came near the American shore, my very heart melted within me, to think from whence I came, where I was going, and what I was going about. I feel that God is here. … Asbury never returned to England. He plunged into the American wilderness, traveling day and night for years, in all kinds of weather, through all kinds of hardship. He traveled 270,000 miles and wore out one horse after another. All he owned was carried in two saddlebags. When Asbury arrived in America there were fewer than 80 Methodist preachers and 14,000 members. When he died there were 2,000 preachers and 200,000 members.
We are not preaching about ourselves. Our message is that Jesus Christ is Lord. He also sent us to be your servants. The Scriptures say, “God commanded light to shine in the dark.” Now God is shining in our hearts to let you know that his glory is seen in Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:5,6)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Oct.27.