Few evangelists have cemented a legacy so fervent that their names, teachings, and notable moments are still commemorated more than 120 years after their deaths, yet D.L. Moody fits that mold.
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Moody, who lived from 1837 to 1899, founded transformational institutions that are still around today, including the Moody Church and Moody Bible Institute, both located in Chicago, and the D.L. Moody Center in Northfield, Massachusetts.
But beyond brick and mortar, it was the robust and lively nature of Moody’s faith walk that not only inspired his contemporaries but continues to transcend time and galvanize multiple generations.
Dr. James Spencer, president of the D.L. Moody Center and author of “Useful to God: Eight Lessons from the Life of D. L. Moody,” recently told CBN’s Faithwire he was blown away when he came to learn about the intensity of Moody’s faith.
“I just read through all of his letters,” he said. “I was reminded just how empty my spirituality was compared to what I was reading in his letters.”
Listen to Spencer share the incredible stories about Moody that still inspire people’s faith today:
That led Spencer to read even more about Moody, diving deeper into the late evangelist’s life and character. As he explored Moody’s faith, he uncovered a number of characteristics others before him had pinpointed in Moody — traits that made the late evangelist “useful to God.”
“He was authentic, and he was earnest,” Spencer said, noting how Moody grew up in poverty, had a 4th or 5th-grade education, and had to work hard to take care of his family.
After coming to Christ, Moody served as a chaplain in the Civil War, preaching to soldiers on both the Union and Confederate sides.
Spencer said Moody eventually “reached 100 million people for Christ” and started at least three schools. At the core of Moody’s work was trust in the Lord — a guiding principle that led him to evangelize in the U.S. and beyond.
“He’s not a high-powered academic; he’s not the greatest preacher in the world,” Spencer said. “What he had was that earnest and that authenticity and the genuineness of his passion.”
He continued, “Every word that came out of his mouth was about his faith.”
And God used that mightily.
Like others, Moody faced his own share of difficult moments. Spencer conveyed a heartfelt and relatable story about Moody’s son, William, who found himself struggling with his faith.
Rather than berate or lambaste the young man, Moody wrote him a touching letter.
“He’s writing to his son William who is struggling with his faith … and was really professing not to be a Christian,” Spencer said. “And D.L. Moody just writes to him and says, ‘My son, you’re breaking my heart that you won’t be in heaven with me.'”
Spencer said Moody told his son about the “necessity of the Gospel” and “pleaded with him to come back to Jesus.”
“He’s talking to his son, William, about the necessity of the Gospel,” Spencer said. “He’s pleading with him to come back to Jesus.”
Eventually, William did just that, going on to come to Christ, and pen an authorized biography on the famed evangelist.
“He came to Christ and ultimately helped his dad with the ministry,” Spencer said.
This timeless story might offer comfort to parents today who have children struggling with their own faith walks, especially amid the increasingly enigmatic “deconstruction” movement.
Read more about Moody’s life in “Useful to God: Eight Lessons from the Life of D. L. Moody,” and download this guide from Spencer that will help you get closer to the Lord.
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