Heroes of the Faith: Dwight L. Moody

If you read my Behind the Hymn stories, you will recognize the name Dwight L. Moody. Many of the hymns written by Fanny Crosby, Robert Lowry, Frances Ridley Havergal, William J. Kirkpatrick and other hymn writers were popularized in the crusades of Rev. Moody.

Dwight L. Moody, as a young man

So, who was Dwight L. Moody?

Dwight Lyman Moody was born on February 5, 1837 in Northfield, Massachusetts. He was the son of Edwin J. and Betsey Holton Moody. Moody’s father was a farmer and stonemason who died when he was only four years old. Leaving his mother struggling to provide for their nine children {twins born a month after his death}. She was forced to send most of the children out to work for their room and board, including the young Dwight. However, she continued to ensure that they regularly attended their Unitarian church. His formal education ended in the fifth grade.

At the age of 17, Moody moved to Boston to work in his uncle’s shoe store. In April 1855, he became an evangelical Christian thanks to his Sunday School teacher.

On August 28, 1862 he married Emma C. Revell. The couple would have two sons and a daughter together.

Dwight L. Moody

He stated he could not “conscientiously enlist” in the Army of the Civil War and described himself as saying “In this respect I am a Quaker”. However, he became involved in the YMCA and visited the battlefront on nine occasions.

Moody began holding Sunday School meetings, but the congregation quickly grew and needed a permanent home. Moody started the Illinois Street Church in Chicago.

While at an International Sunday School Convention in Indianapolis in June 1871, Moody met Ira D. Sankey. Sankey was a gospel singer and the two men were soon collaborating together.

In October 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed Moody’s church building. Many in service had to flee the church to save their lives. Moody and Sankey are said to have to row out on the river to get away from the flames.

Dwight L. Moody

Three months later the church was rebuilt as the Chicago Avenue Church {later renamed the Moody Church}.

Moody began to make a name for himself as an evangelist and became well known on his 1872 trip to the United Kingdom. Crowds grew and he soon filled stadiums. He pioneered many techniques of evangelism still used today. He often returned to the United Kingdom for crusades.

Moody purchased the “tranquil farm” next to his birthplace where he decided to settle. He felt he could have more peace and quiet and better recover from his trips here than in the city.

He founded a school for girls in 1879 and for boys in 1881 in his hometown of Northfield. These schools later merged as Northfield Mount Hermon School.

Dwight L. Moody

Moody established the Chicago Bible Institute {renamed the Moody Bible Institute later} in 1886 and served as it’s president until his death.

Moody and Sankey published many hymn books together and Moody published several books.

Of his fame, Moody admitted, “I know perfectly well that, wherever I go and preach, there are many better preachers … than I am; all that I can say about it is that the Lord uses me.”

Throughout his life, Moody always found time to be with his family, making every effort to show his love and care for them.

Dwight L. Moody preached his last sermon in Kansas City, Missouri on November 16, 1899. He died on December 22, 1899.


Dwight L. Moody was a popular evangelist in the 19th Century #faithfulheroes #heroesofthefaith Click To Tweet



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