“Faith makes all things possible… love makes all things easy,” Dwight L. Moody
The evangelist Dwight L. Moody was one of the most important revivalists in modern Christian history. Often considered the first mass evangelist, Moody gave 19th century America a lasting example of mass evangelism and education when he committed over 5000 college students and turned them into missionaries one university at a time.
The battle cry that led to such spirited evangelism among the youth was “all should go and go to all,” according to A.T. Pierson. Moody’s strategy for evangelism was to gather a large amount of students and teach them intensively. Moody was known as a simple person who maintained a high view of Scripture, great faith in prayer, and strict focus on mission. He was a man who always sought for the Holy Spirit and longed for greater spiritual power.
During an open youth summer conference Moody organized, 151 students attended. Although the conference seemed like an average retreat with Bible studies and fellowship, prayer groups eventually allowed it to spark a movement of missionaries among the students. By the end of the conference, 100 of those students gave their lives to serve world mission.
One of Moody’s disciples, John R. Mott, led a world-wide movement called “Student Volunteer Movement,” (SVM). This organization allowed for more students with mission interests to gather often for prayer, Bible studies, and conferences. Moody, Mott, and their co-workers continued to travel to over 150 universities to find, train and dispatch missionaries with great zeal. Eventually, they evangelized thousands of students who later would bare fruits in mission fields around the world.
Beyond the number of missionaries that were born through Moody’s mass gatherings and conferences, a new movement of lay mission was circulating. All interested students could volunteer through SVM and other similar organizations were growing to allow for all kinds of people to participate in mission. Moody himself was not ordained or formally educated in theology. And therefore, he encouraged the participation of every kind of person and opened the doors of the church to everyone.
Although mission around the world generally began to fade after World War I, the mass evangelism movement of students sparked a historic and influential interest in mission during that era. Moody’s evangelistic approach and revival is sometimes referred to as the “Third Great Awakening.”
“Without higher education, he founded three schools. Without theological training, he reshaped Victorian Christianity. Without radio or television, he reached 100 million people,” Christian History Magazine posted about Moody. Similarly, in today’s world, millions can be reached in one effort and be caught in the net of the truth for the advancement of the Gospel.