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John Wesley and the Germans, part 4

January 31, 2021

John Wesley was greatly impressed by the Moravian Germans who traveled with him to the New World on the ship Simmons in 1735- 1736. He had noticed how happy they were and how they did the menial tasks aboard the ship without complaining. He was even more impressed when he visited them during an awful storm which rocked the ship. Wesley was terrified! He struggled with a fear of death and when this storm hit, he was in a panic. When he looked in on the Moravians he found them singing. Singing! It amazed him so much that later he asked their bishop, “Weren’t you afraid?” The bishop said, “We thought we were going to die.” “But, you were singing!” Wesley replied. The bishop responded, “We believe that if we die we go to the arms of a Savior who loves us.” “Even the children?” Wesley asked. “Yes, even our children know Christ as Savior,” said the bishop.

Something about Wesley’s demeanor during this conversation encouraged the bishop to ask, “Mr. Wesley, do you know Christ as your Savior?” Wesley answered, “I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the world.” -a good orthodox answer. But, the bishop pressed it further, “Mr. Wesley, do you know that He has saved YOU?” “I trust that I do,” Wesley replied, then got away as quick as he could and wrote in his diary how frightened he was to be asked that intimate, personal question.

All this was several years before John Wesley’s life changing experience at Aldersgate when he trusted Christ and Christ alone for his salvation.

The Rev. Dave Hanson is a retired pastor and John Wesley scholar.

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