JOHN WESLEY

The Founder of Methodism

John Wesley was the fifteenth child born to Samuel and Susanna Wesley in 1703 in Epworth, England. Another brother, Charles, was born two years later. Together, John and Charles Wesley made an impact on the world that is still felt today.

At Oxford College, Charles and John formed a group of students who wanted to study Scripture and worship together. They were very disciplined about their "religious duties." The young men also visited prisoners, paying their debts so they could be released. "The Holy Club," as it was scornfully called by other students, became the core of the movement later known as the Methodists.

Ordained a minister, John rode from village to village preaching his high standards to people he assumed were already Christians. But in 1735, John became excited about going to America to preach to the Indians. Charles went, too, but both returned to England three years later, feeling that their time in America had been a failure.

John struggled with the fact that his strict religious disciplines did not give him the assurance of salvation for which he longed. On May 24, 1738, he attended a meeting in Aldersgate Street where someone read Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans, describing the change, which God works in the heart through faith in Christ. As he listened, John felt his heart "strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for my salvation."

From that time onward, John Wesley traveled all over England, Scotland, and Wales preaching a Gospel of faith and forming Methodist Societies to nurture converts. His brother Charles wrote hundreds of hymns, earning Methodism the reputation as "the singing religion." The Wesleys never intended to begin a new church, but they were prevented from preaching in the official state churches. So they preached anywhere and to anyone. When an official demanded to know what was his parish, John replied, "The world is my parish." And so it was until his death at age eighty-eight in 1791.

1996 Dave and Neta Jackson, Hero Tales, Vol. I