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Dwight L. Moody More Alive than Ever

Moody steps off his porch.

AS THE NINETEENTH-CENTURY drew to a close, so did the earthly life of Dwight L. Moody. For nine years his heart had been dilating. In November 1899, he suffered serious symptoms one morning in Kansas after preaching to fifteen thousand people the night before. He had to break off his remaining meetings and return to his home in Northfield Massachusetts. The man who had led half a million to claim eternal life was now seriously ill. 

Moody was born in Northfield, Massachusetts. When he was about five, his father died, leaving his mother in serious financial straits. She had to send her older children to work. At sixteen, Moody went to Boston where he became a successful shoe salesman while working for an uncle. This uncle made it a condition of the boy’s employment that he attended the Congregational church. Moody’s Sunday school teacher, Edward Kimball, earned his friendship by defending him when the other students mocked his bad grammar and ignorance. Kimball visited Moody’s store in April 1855 and urged him to commit his life to Christ. Moody listened and believed. 

He soon moved to Chicago, where opportunities were greater. He was financially successful and aimed to make even more money. However, he also wanted to see souls saved, and he gathered boys from the streets to bring them to Sunday school. He determined never to let a day pass without telling someone about Jesus. Eventually, he gave up sales; soul-winning was more important. 

Some years later, he was challenged by two women who were praying for him. He realized he would be far more effective if he were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to pray for this. One day while walking in New York, where he was raising funds to rebuild after the Great Chicago Fire, the Spirit fell on him with such power he had to cry out to God to pull back, or he felt he would die. Afterward, his revivals saw extraordinary results in England and the United States. Hundreds of thousands of people came to the Lord under his preaching and under the song ministry of Ira Sankey, P.P. Bliss, and other song leaders who worked with him. 

On the last day of his earthly life, he told his son Will, “Earth is receding, heaven is opening; God is calling.” When Will objected, he replied, “No, I am at the gates. I have seen the children”—referring to two grandchildren who had died the year before. To the family gathered around his bed, he said, “This is my coronation day, and I have been looking forward to it for years.” On this day, 22 December 1899, ten minutes before midnight, he died. He had said famously,

Someday you will read in the papers that Moody is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I was born of the flesh in 1837, I was born of the spirit in 1855. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the Spirit shall live forever.

Dan Graves

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Read much more about Moody in Christian History #25, Unconventional Dwight L. Moody

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