John WesleyIndeed, if William Booth is known as the father of the movement, John Wesley is most certainly its grandfather!
Miraculously rescued from a raging fire that destroyed his family’s home, five-year-old John Wesley grew to establish the Methodist Church and would later set the ecclesiological and theological underpinnings of The Salvation Army. Indeed, if William Booth is known as the father of the movement, John Wesley is most certainly its grandfather!
Samuel and Susanna Wesley welcomed their 15th child, John Wesley, to their family in 1703. Samuel and Susanna educated their children from early childhood and expected their children to read, write and become competent in Latin and Greek, while memorizing large sections of the New Testament by heart. At age 11, John was sent to a school in London (175 miles from Epworth) to formally begin his academic and spiritual training. At the age of 22, John completed his formal education at Christ Church in Oxford and was ordained as a deacon in 1725.
In 1735, John and his brother, Charles, embarked on a missionary adventure that would radically change the course of their lives. They set sail to the far-off English colony of Georgia to become missionaries. On the voyage to the American colonies, they encountered a group of Moravian Christians whose deep faith and commitment to Christ greatly influenced them.
After three years of ministry to the American Indians, the Wesley brothers returned to England. Discouraged over what they considered a failure in Georgia, they sought the peace and assurance that they witnessed in the Moravian congregation. On May 24, 1738, John Wesley recorded in his journal, “In the evening I went very unwillingly to a (Moravian) society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
John Wesley, along with his brother Charles, went on to establish the Methodist Church. Over 100 years later, an ordained Methodist minister named William Booth carried on an expression of the movement and founded what became The Salvation Army.
What influence do you have on The Salvation Army today—at your corps or home? What are some non-negotiables of Salvationism that will continue to be expressed 100 years from now?