On a cold Sunday in 1873, a dignified woman and her portly companion trudged across Clark Street Bridge in Chicago. College administrator Emma Dryer and evangelist D. L. Moody were discussing a Christian school for Chicago. Dryer insisted that such a school be coeducational, but Moody disagreed.

Miss Dryer decided to raise the money herself, and in 1882 her institute opened with 50 students. Moody, watching from afar, was impressed and agreed to lend his support if Chicagoans could raise $250,000. I will tell you what I have on my heart. I would like to see $250,000 raised at once; $250,000 for Chicago is not anything. Take $50,000 and put up a building that will house 75 or 100 people, where they can eat and sleep. Take $200,000 and invest it at 5 percent, and that gives you $10,000 a year to run this work. Then take men that have the gifts and train them for this work of reaching the people.

Men, he finally agreed, and women. It happened, and Emma Dryer, who had kept the vision before Moody for years and provided educational and organizational expertise to the school’s beginnings, resigned to make room for his leadership. Land and buildings were acquired, and on January 16, 1890, Moody Bible Institute was dedicated.

Two years later, William Evans became MBI’s first graduate. Evans, a New York journalist, had first heard Moody in New York City. Preaching from Luke 5, Moody had challenged young people to give themselves for Christian service. Suddenly the evangelist had looked down at young Evans. “Young man, I mean you.”

Afterward Moody found Evans and said, “Young man, somehow or other God told me He meant you. Have you never been called to give your life to the service of Jesus Christ?” When Evans mentioned his comfortable salary, Moody retorted, “Pack up your trunk and go to my school in Chicago. Never mind about money.” Evans went. And he became the first of thousands who, for over a century, have spanned the globe for Christ from the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.

Timothy, my child, Christ Jesus is kind, and you must let him make you strong. You have often heard me teach. Now I want you to tell these same things to followers who can be trusted to tell others. 2 Timothy 2:1,2

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Jan. 16.

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