Sunday, April 28, 2013
Y: YMCA (and D. L. Moody)
Many moons ago, while I was a student at Messenger College in Joplin, I bought this book from the college library for less than a buck - it was one of the old titles they were getting rid of as they updated their collection. The copyright date in the front of the book is 1900. And yes, that is scotch tape I employed to hold the binding together :). I thought it looked interesting (the book, not the tape), since it is about DL Moody and by his son. I had heard his name many times but never actually read about him for myself. This antique 590-page book fixed that!
Reading this I learned a lot of interesting things. For instance, it was in this book that I first heard about Henry Moorhouse, who preached for Moody once while he was away from his church in Chicago on business. Moorhouse preached seven nights in a row from the same text: John 3:16, using examples from Genesis through Revelation in each sermon, to demonstrate how God loves sinners and wants to save them. This actually revolutionized Moody's own theology, when he heard about it and heard Moorhouse preach personally, because he had always believed in God's wrath and hatred toward sinners.
I learned that Moody was a huge proponent of and worker in children's ministry and Sunday school programs. His own famous church, in fact, grew from a Sunday school mission he planted in a Chicago slum.
Not only this, but he was also very closely involved with the YMCA. Many of his evangelistic outreaches were held at YMCA conventions and prayer meetings. He worked so fervently on behalf of the YMCA that when the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed a large part of the city, including his own home, his church, and the YMCA, he went to New York to raise funds to rebuild the church and the YMCA. While he was there, though, he had a divine encounter and returned persuaded that world evangelization should be his new main focus, rather than social work as it had been previously in his efforts with the YMCA.
This is an interesting subject to me. There are many different views among Christians and ministers regarding whether social work has any place in the Church's mission, whether it is equivalent with it, or whether they are two separate things entirely. I think social work is necessary to evangelization and the two should not be separated. What do you think?