Edward Kimball was determined to win his Sunday school class to Christ. A teenager named Dwight Moody tended to fall asleep on Sundays, but Kimball, undeterred, set out to reach him at work. His heart was pounding as he entered the store where the young man worked. “I put my hand on his shoulder, and as I leaned over I placed my foot upon a shoebox. I asked him to come to Christ.” But Kimball left thinking he had botched the job. Moody, however, left the store that day a new person and eventually became the most prominent evangelist in America.
On June 17, 1873, Moody arrived in Liverpool, England, for a series of crusades. The meetings went poorly at first, but then the dam burst and blessings began flowing. Moody visited a Baptist chapel pastored by a scholarly man named F. B. Meyer, who at first disdained the American’s unlettered preaching. But Meyer was soon transfixed and transformed by Moody’s message.
At Moody’s invitation, Meyer toured America. At Northfield Bible Conference, he challenged the crowds saying, “If you are not willing to give up everything for Christ, are you willing to be made willing?” That remark changed the life of a struggling young minister named J. Wilber Chapman.
Chapman proceeded to become a powerful traveling evangelist in the early 1900s, and he recruited a converted baseball player named Billy Sunday. Under Chapman’s eye, Sunday became one of the most spectacular evangelists in American history. His campaign in Charlotte, North Carolina, produced a group of converts who continued praying for another such visitation of the Spirit. In 1934 they invited evangelist Mordecai Ham to conduct a citywide crusade. On October 8th Ham, discouraged, wrote a prayer to God on the stationery of his Charlotte hotel: “Lord, give us a Pentecost here. … Pour out thy Spirit tomorrow. … ”
His prayer was answered beyond his dreams when a Central High School student named Billy Graham gave his heart to Jesus.
And Edward Kimball thought he had botched the job!
I am not praying just for these followers. I am also praying for everyone else who will have faith because of what my followers will say about me. I want all of them to be one with each other, just as I am one with you and you are one with me. (John 17:20-21a)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). June 17.