Overholtzer Reaches the Children

This is the day that … Jesse Irvin Overholtzer was born in 1877.

The place was San Joaquin County, California, USA, and the little fellow was the seventh son in a family that would eventually number 13.

The family belonged to the Hutterite Brethren, a strict group with roots going back to the German pietist movement.

After a rebellious teenage – during which time his father “beat him severely with a horse whip” (The Indomitable Mr O, by N. Rohrer, page 35) for a misdemeanour, Jesse finally left home at the age of 18.

In 1914, at the age of 37, he read “The Life of Moody” and began to study the Word of God. And he came to an assurance of salvation!

“I was too happy for words,” he later said to his biographer. “The joy-bells were ringing in my heart. I knew I was saved!” (ibid, page 58).

All this, despite the fact that he had been a Hutterite Brethren preacher for over 15 years!

His wife, Anna, “became his first convert as he explained to her the simple way of salvation” (page 59).

In 1937, on 20 May, he officially organised Child Evangelism Fellowship, a ministry dedicated to reaching children with the gospel. Good News Clubs are still run in Australia, and around the world.

The Dictionary of Christianity in America tells of 850 staff workers in the U.S., TV and radio programs, magazines, teaching aids, camping programs, training classes for teachers – and so it goes.

J. Irvin Overholtzer heard the Saviour’s “Well done” on August 6, 1955.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

Hugh Bourne Brings Revival Preaching

This is the day that … Hugh Bourne preached his first sermon, in North Staffordshire, England. It was 1801, and he was 29 years of age.

Hugh had been converted through reading the Letters of Fletcher of Maddley – “I was born again in an instant, yea passed from death unto life,” he wrote.

By 1802 he had built a chapel and regular services were being conducted. They affiliated with the Wesleyan Methodists.

News of camp meetings in America stirred Hugh Bourne’s heart, and also that of a co-worker, William Clowes. And when Lorenzo Dow arrived from USA – a rather eccentric Methodist nicknamed “Crazy” Dow by his critics – Bourne decided he would organise a ‘camp meeting’ on 23 August, 1807.

It was the first such meeting on England’s green fields.

But the Wesleyan Methodists considered such a gathering ‘highly improper in England, and likely to be productive of considerable mischief.’ So the split took place after simmering for a while. On 13 February, 1812, the Primitive Methodist denomination was born. (Their enemies called them “the Ranters.”)

Hugh Bourne died in 1852 at the age of 80 years. He had lived to see thousands converted, and over 1000 ministers proclaiming the Wesleyan doctrines.

Today Primitive Methodists are on the decline in England and America. But it was in a Primitive Methodist Chapel that young Charles H. Spurgeon “looked to Jesus Christ” … and experienced the joy of sins forgiven.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.