Levi Sankey

Levi (Matthew) wasn’t the only tax collector to follow Christ into full-time ministry. Ira Sankey did, too. Sankey was born on August 28, 1840, in a small Pennsylvania town. His family later moved to New Castle, where his father became president of a local bank. Ira served in the Union Army during the Civil War, then returned home to serve as the local internal revenue collector.

His real love, however, was singing, and he was in demand through Pennsylvania and Ohio as a soloist at meetings. His father, hoping he would enter politics, complained, “I am afraid that boy will never amount to anything. All he does is run about the country with a hymnbook under his arm.” His mother replied that she would rather see him with a hymnbook under his arm than a whisky bottle in his pocket.

D.L. Muudy

In 1870 Ira attended the national convention of the YMCA, meeting in Indianapolis. One of the convention sessions was dragging along so badly that Ira offered to lead some hymns. At the end of the session, he was approached by a big, burly man who pelted him with questions. “Where are you from? What is your business? Are you married?”

When Sankey told him he was married, lived in Pennsylvania, and worked for the government, the man abruptly announced, “You will have to give that up.”

“What for?” asked Sankey in amazement.

“To come to Chicago and help me in my work.”

Sankey replied that he could not possibly leave his business. To this, the man said, “You must; I have been looking for you for the last eight years.”

Thus began one of the most famous partnerships in evangelistic history—D. L. Moody and Ira Sankey. For the next quarter century, Moody and Sankey traveled around the world. As Moody preached the gospel, Sankey sang solos, conducted the singing, and composed music for the gospel hymns. His Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs and Solos sold over 50 million copies. He became his generation’s most beloved gospel singer.

Once again, Jesus went to the shore of Lake Galilee. A large crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he walked along, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus. Levi was sitting at the place for paying taxes, and Jesus said to him, “Come with me!” So he got up and went with Jesus. (Mark 2:13,14)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day: 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). August 28.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

1645King Ladislaus IV of Poland convened a religious conference at Torun (Thorn) in the hope that 26 Catholic, 28 Lutheran, and 24 Calvinist theologians would reach an ecumenical consensus for the sake of the nation. The discussion continued into November and failed dismally.

1892 – Baptism in Queensland of Peter Ambuofa, a Solomon Islander who returned to preach the gospel to his own tribe in 1894, but suffered years of deprivation, sickness, hostility, and threats before a drought brought many to Christ. By 1904 he had led 200 souls to Christ.

1963 – A large civil-rights demonstration (known as The March on Washington) gathered in the United States capital on behalf of African-American civil rights. The march brought together major civil-rights organizations and many religious groups—Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish—and marks the first determined effort by a large number of white clergy to join the cause to end racial discrimination. Rev. Martin Luther King, jr., gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Accessed ChristianHistoryInstitute.org 27 August 2022.

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