Our revivalist this month is John Wesley, founder of Wesleyan theology and modern Methodism. Wesley kept detailed journals from his time in ministry. Y’all should check it out, it’s cool to see a behind the scenes look into the life of a famous man of God.
One of my favorite Wesley stories is about his own personal revival. He was sailing from England to the US, after accepting a position as a chaplain in Savannah, Georgia back when Georgia was still a colony. On the boat with him were a group of Moravian missionaries from Germany. (If you don’t know about the Moravians, look them up. They’re a cool group of people!)
Anyway, a huge storm hit the ship one day. Most of the passengers were screaming and panicking, but the Moravians worshipped and sang through the whole storm. Wesley was shocked and deeply moved by their peace in the face of death. After two years in Georgia, Wesley came back to London discouraged. He began meeting with some of the Moravian missionaries in London. Through his meetings with them, Wesley had his own personal awakening- he felt sure of his salvation in Jesus for the first time. That’s right- it turns out Wesley wasn’t so perfect after all! He claims he actually encountered the real Jesus (not just the Christian religion) after he was already a pastor!
A few months later, Wesley became a part of what is now referred to as The Great Awakening. There were nights when groups of people stayed up to pray all night. Wesley began preaching outside the church, and many came to Christ because of his belief that salvation was for all (as opposed to the popular Calvinist predestination theology of the time).
So, through his own weakness and need for God, and through his own encounter with Jesus, Wesley was used by God to spread the message of salvation. That’s encouraging to me, the same way it’s encouraging to read about the ways Abraham and Moses and David and Peter and countless others messed up in the Bible and God used it as a platform for his glory. These men were used powerfully by God, even in their brokenness.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
For more information about John Wesley, check out these sources: