In my home country, we learned about the Great Awakenings and had to remember some “important” names. Who cares about history, right? And this was church history in a country far away. This past year, I got a better understanding of the significance of the American Great Awakenings, the differences between them, their impact on the founding of America, and its influence on the church landscape in both America and England. (After all, high school church history came to life…)
I wrote “a few” pages on Moody and Sankey. As music students we had to consider preacher/musician teams and comparing the preached theology with the sung theology. I learned a few interesting details along the way.
Moody’s story is fascinating. He was a rebellious, troublesome young man, with a few years schooling due to his upbringing. He could hardly read. However, the Lord touched his heart, causing him to start a Sunday School to share the Gospel with disadvantaged youth. But how could an person who had hardly any education start a school?
An observer witnessed: I saw was a man standing up with a few candles around him, holding a boy, and trying to read to him the story of the Prodigal Son. A great many words he could not readout, and had to skip [words]. I thought, “If the Lord can ever use such an instrument as that for His honor and glory, it will astonish me.” As a result of his tireless labor, within a year, the average attendance at his school was 650, while 60 volunteers from various churches served as teachers.
The man could hardly read, but he had a commitment to share the Gospel with disadvantaged children. He didn’t take reading classes first, he didn’t get a committee together. He just got to work: his mouth spoke of what his heart was full of: there was no time to waste.
Later in life, Moody brought the Gospel to audiences we have never seen in our lives: tens of thousands of people, in both England and America. He also visited Vancouver, BC in 1888 (Victory square where the cenotaph now is.)
Many of Sanky’s songs were translated by Johannes De Heer in Dutch, and some forgotten ones in America are still very popular in The Netherlands.
Have you seen “The Greatest Showman”? It is based on a true story! Because P.T. Barnum’s circus in New York was closed on Sunday, Moody could rent it: 7,000 people in the main hall, 4,000 in overflow, thousands outside, 500 ushers and 1,200 singers directed by Ira Sankey. Eventually Moody bought the “Great Roman Hippodrome” and the attendance grew to 25,000 people each Sunday. Yes, Moody’s doctrine missed a few nuts and bolts, but his drive, passion, abilities, and these numbers are mind blowing.