Mt. Vernon Congregational Church in Boston was known as a great church in the 1860’s, and its pastor, Dr. Kirk, was known as a great preacher. A youngster from the neighborhood named Dwight often wandered into the service for lack of something better to do. He liked the music, but being in his mid-teens he would frequently lose interest and fall asleep during the preaching.
One week, Dwight arrived before the church service began and the greeter at the door led him down the hall to a Bible class for teen boys. The teacher, Edwin Kimball, was not your run-of-the-mill teacher of teens. Dwight liked him instantly and became a regular in the class. Any time he missed, the teacher would send a note to remind Dwight he was loved and that the class just wasn’t the same when he wasn’t there.
Several months went by and, 18 now, Dwight got a job selling boots in his uncle’s shoe store. Mr. Kimball sensed that the time had come for Dwight to make a decision about becoming a follower of Jesus. Timidly Kimball entered the store and was relieved to find Dwight in the back room stacking shoes. He recalls, “I went up to him and put my hand on his shoulder and then I made my plea. I simply told him of Christ’s love for him and the love Christ wanted in return. That was all there was of it. I think Mr. Moody said afterward that there were tears in my eyes. It seemed that the young man was just ready for the light that then broke upon him, for there at once in the back of that shoe store in Boston the future great evangelist gave himself and his life to Christ.”
Dwight L. Moody responded to that simple invitation and historians tell us he would ultimately lead at least a million sinners to faith in Christ. Years later, while preaching he would say, “Mr. Kimball put his hand upon my shoulder, and talked to me about Christ and my soul. I had not felt that I had a soul till then. I said to myself, ‘This is a very strange thing. Here is a man who never saw me till lately, and he is weeping over my sins, and I never shed a tear about them.'”
Here are some of my take-aways from this story: Mr. Kimball loved to recount how he prayed daily for every boy in his class. He would reflect that those who seemed to have the least interest in spiritual things often developed into the most effective workers in the kingdom of God. His interest in his students was not primarily how much information they had in their heads but rather it was in their understanding of how much Jesus loved them and how He had forgiven their sins. He took personal responsibility for the spiritual journey of each one in his class.
And it leads me to ask, What “Dwight” (or “Suzy”) are you pouring yourself into? What neighbor are you interceding for? What rascal in your neighborhood (or church) are you committed to mentoring for Jesus? Another carefully disguised Dwight Moody? Could be, you know.
By Don Jacobsen