Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard Impacts America’s Women

This is the day that … Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard was born in New York State, in 1839.

She was the middle of three children born to Josiah and Mary Willard in Churchville.

Being a red-headed tomboy, she preferred to be called “Frank”, but the day came when she outgrew that stage. “Next to being an angel” she said, “the greatest bestowment of God is to make one a woman!” (Women to Remember, by N. Olsen, page 77).

She inherited spiritual qualities from her godly parents, was converted in a Methodist ‘revival’ meeting, and joined the Church six months later – 5 May, 1861. And five years later she experienced the “second blessing”, being challenged by a holiness preacher, Phoebe Palmer, to lay all on the altar. “I unconditionally yielded my petty little jewels and … a conscious emotional presence of Christ held me,” she writes.

There was a temporary association with D.L. Moody … who invited her to preach at a Sunday afternoon meeting. She also led Bible study groups and women’s meetings.

But her main claim to fame is her involvement in the war against the liquor industry!

In 1874, “as if by magic, armies of women – delicate, cultured, home women – filled the streets of the cities and towns of Ohio … going to the saloons, singing, praying, preaching with the rum-sellers with all the eloquence of their mother hearts” (The Beautiful Life of Frances E. Willard, by A.A. Gordon, page 93).

The movement spread to other states, and eventually worldwide.

The driving force behind this was Frances Willard, who became the second National president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.), in 1879, and continued to give a powerful impetus to the movement until her death nearly 20 years later.

In 1895 she was introduced to a US Senate Committee as a “general with an army of 250,000.”

She campaigned for political issues and women in the pulpit, for prison reform and labour conditions … but after her death the W.C.T.U. resorted to just the alcohol issue.

In later years Miss Willard (or “Aunty Frank” as some of her disciples knew her) “espoused Christian Socialism” (Dictionary of Christianity in America, page 1256).

Preaching on the evils of alcohol without proclaiming the message of the Cross is not the theme of Scripture. What the sinner needs is not reformation but regeneration.

Frances Willard died on 17 February, 1898, and 80,000 people filed past her coffin in Willard Hall, Chicago.

Among her dying words are these: “Let me go away, let me be in peace: I am so safe with Him. He has other worlds and I want to go. I have always believed in Christ: He is the incarnation of God”. (A.A. Gordon, page 291). She was also heard to say: “How beautiful it is to be with God.”

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.

Henry Moorhouse Teaches Moody How to Preach

This is the day that … Henry Moorhouse was born in 1840, in Manchester, England.

For the first 20 years of his life he was constantly in trouble and in prison more than once. But at the age of 21 “in the engine room of a warehouse,” a young Christian pointed him to Romans 10:9: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

The biographer tells of the outcome. Henry Moorhouse “saw, he believed, he rejoiced, he confessed, and he was ready from that hour to bear witness for Christ…” Before long he was preaching the gospel, on street corners and in packed halls.

And he is best remembered as the “man who moved the man who moved millions.” In ‘Life of D.L. Moody’ by his son, a whole chapter is devoted to the influence of Henry Moorhouse: “Moorhouse taught Moody to draw his sword (of the Spirit) full length, to fling the scabbard away and enter the battle with a naked blade” (page 140).

Henry had become a preacher with the Plymouth Brethren and had learned the importance of expository preaching. When Moody visited Dublin in 1867, he was told of the preaching of a zealous young Brethren evangelist named Harry Moorhouse. By this time, Moorhouse had established the reputation of being one of the leading evangelists in England. Initially, Moody was not very impressed with young Moorhouse. To Moody, Moorhouse appeared to be so young and frail. Moody, however, did invite Moorhouse to visit him in Chicago, not expecting him to come.

Moody’s wife, Emma, upon hearing Moorhouse, told her husband, “I like Moorhouse’s preaching very, very much. He is very different from you. He backs up everything he says by the Bible.”

On one occasion, young Moorhouse challenged Moody, “You are sailing on the wrong tack. If you will change your course, and learn to preach God’s words instead of your own, He will make you a great power.”

When Moorhouse first arrived in Chicago, Moody was unexpectedly called out of town and asked Moorhouse to preach for him at Farwell Hall. Moorhouse preached nightly for one solid week on the love of God using the text of John 3:16. When Moody returned, he was greatly surprised to find Moorhouse still preaching. As he listened he discovered Moorhouse was still on the same text, and that souls were being wonderfully saved. Moody confided to a friend, “I never knew up to that time that God loved us so much. This heart of mine began to thaw out; I could not keep back the tears. I just drank it in. So did the crowded congregation. I tell you there is one thing that draws above everything else in the world and that is love.”

Not only was there an emphasis on more use of Scripture in Moody’s sermons (“Stop preaching your own words and preach God’s Word,” Moorhouse had said to him), there was also a new emphasis on God’s love for the sinner. “Moody’s evangelistic preaching was to take on a different tenor than that of so much previous revivalistic preaching in the American tradition.”

Henry Moorhouse died on 28 December, 1880, at the age of 40. Among his dying words were these: “If it were the Lord’s will to raise me up again, I should like to preach more on the text, ‘God so loved the world’.”

He seemed to pass away, but means employed by the attending physician revived him.

“Why have you brought me back to such dreadful suffering?” he asked of those at his bedside, “I was in heaven …”

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.

Fredrick Franson from Sweden to the World

This is the day that … Fredrick Franson died in Idaho, Colorado in 1908.

Born in Sweden on 17 June, 1852, Fredrick grew up in a Christian environment. His family emigrated to Nebraska in 1869. At the age of 20 he was converted after reading Romans 10:6,7 and was later baptised in the Swedish Baptist Church.

It was, however, the reading of Romans 10:6,7 that led to his conversion. By this time he was 20 and had emigrated to America.

He worked as a counsellor to enquirers at some of D.L. Moody’s meetings, and became a member at the Moody Church, Chicago.

By the age of 23 he was involved in missionary work among entire communities of Swedish speaking folk in Minnesota. He was seen as a missioner to the Scandinavians in the same way Moody was gifted for reaching Americans.

Ministry in Salt Lake City led to his writing a 212-page book – Mormonism Unveiled, discussing 70 texts the Mormons miss-handle in the Scripture – and then, in 1880, he went back to Colorado.

The Westmark Evangelical Free Church records, “Westmark Church was organized November 19, 1880 by Swedish missionary-evangelist Fredrick Franson. The homesteaders and immigrant farmers of this rural community met in sod homes for Sunday School and Worship Services until the first building was erected on this location in 1883. The Swedish language was used in worship services and business meetings until it was officially changed to ‘the American language’ in 1929.”

Franson then spent nine years in Scandinavia preaching the gospel. His ministry at the Bethlehem Church in Oslo resulted in the formation of the Mission Covenant Church of Norway.

During his time in Scandinavia Franson gained the honour of being the first missionary appointed by the Moody Church, led by Dwight L. Moody, on February 5, 1878.

He returned to America on 7 September, 1890 and on 14 October, 1890, a meeting took place under his guidance in the Swedish Pilgrim Church, Brooklyn, New York, where “The Evangelical Alliance Mission” was born. That mission is now known by its acronym, TEAM and by the end of the 20th Century this mighty missionary organisation had about 1000 missionaries serving on 29 fields.

Franson continued in missionary activity, visiting several fields and is cited as part of the Korean revival in Wonsan, where a hunger for the Holy Spirit led to Korea’s first Pentecostal outpouring in 1903. “In the subsequent Bible Study meetings led by Frederick Franson, many Korean believers also confessed their sins. Confession of sins was an outstanding feature of the meeting.” (Korean Pentecostalism, Yeol Soo Eim, Gospel Theological Seminary)

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.

Sudan Interior Mission

This is the day that … the Sudan Interior Mission (S.I.M.) was born, in 1898.

“On 24 May, 1898,” Rowland Bingham later wrote, “Helen E. Blair entered with me into life partnership … we were married three days before the mission was born …” (Flame of Fire, by J. Hunter, page 66).

In the previous decades an awakening of missionary interest had been stimulated by the preaching of D.L. Moody and the Student Volunteer Movement (of which John Mott became the leader for over 30 years).

Literally thousands of young people caught the vision of evangelising the world – in their generation.  Among them was a young Englishman named Rowland Victor Bingham, who migrated to Canada … and then trained at A.B. Simpson’s Bible College.

With two other graduates, and without the backing of any Church or missionary society, Bingham sailed for Africa – the “white man’s grave”, as it was then known, and not without cause. 

Bingham, suffering from attacks of malaria, was the only one to survive.  He returned to Canada in February, 1895 … but that year of death, sickness and disappointment had not been wasted.

Other dedicated young men volunteered to go.  The S.I.M. was formed, and by 1900 Bingham was off again – with two other young men – to take the gospel to the Sudan.  Again the dreaded malaria struck – the mission was aborted.

But in 1901 another attempt was made … and success began to crown their efforts.

Less than a century later the S.I.M. has over 700 missionaries working under its banner.  “Over 6,700 congregations have come into being through S.I.M. ministry, all self-sustaining and self-governing” (Sixty Great Founders, by G. Hanks).

In 1954 S.I.M. set up Africa’s first missionary radio station and daily the gospel is beamed out across the airwaves from Radio ELWA.  And because its work now extends far beyond the Sudan, S.I.M. today stands for “Society of International Mission”.

John Raleigh Mott – Ecumenist

This is the day that … John Raleigh Mott was born in New York State, in 1865.

He was an Ameican Methodist evangelist and became “the most influential world religious leader of the 20th century” – according to Ruth Tucker (From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, page 268).

He influenced more students onto the mission field during his lifetime than any other Christian leader.

At the age of 32 he was acclaimed as “Protestantism’s leading statesman” (20th Century Dictionary of Christian Biography).

In 1886 he had responded for missionary service at D.L. Moody’s student conference … and in the nearly 70 years that followed he travelled two million miles, stirring up missionary interest … and “plagued with sea sickness”.

In 1910 he served as Chairman, and organiser, of the Edinburgh Missionary Conference, a movement designed to bring mission societies together and face them with the challenge of “the evangelisation of the world in this generation…”

But it was not to be.  The “social gospel” replaced evangelism and the Edinburgh Conference became the forerunner of the World Council of Churches.  Mott was the opening speaker in 1948 when the W.C.C. was officially launched … and became Honorary President.

His ecumenical leaning was also seen as president of the YMCA when he encouraged Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians to become members (Dictionary of Christianity in America, page 779). Mott is credited with starting the ecumenical movement, initially as a protestant domain, but then extended to non-protestant denominations (Learning to Give).

At age 81 he won the Nobel Peace Prize. He travelled widely covering more than two million miles (equal to seventy times around the world).

After his first wife died in 1952 he remarried a year later (at the age of 88).  He died on 31 January, 1955.

And I notice that one book claims “Raleigh” was a fictitious name he gave himself when he was 11 years of age!  (20th Century Dictionary of Christian Biography, page 265).