John Wesley, on his sea voyage to Georgia in 1736, faced extreme fear. Waves as big as mountains threatened to drown the ship and everybody on it. Day after day, water spilled over the sides. He was sure all on board would perish.
Through it all, a little group of Moravian believers sang psalms and prayed. Even their children displayed no fear of death. Wesley observed that they never displayed anger, pride or revenge. When maligned, shoved or cursed, they never retaliated. He wondered if they’d also found the cure for fear. On Sunday, January 25, 1736, Wesley wrote in his diary:
In the midst of the psalm wherewith their service began, the sea broke over, split the main-sail in pieces, covered the ship, and poured in between the decks, as if the great deep had already swallowed us up. A terrible screaming began among the English. The Germans calmly sung on. I asked one of them afterwards, “Was you not afraid?” He answered, “I thank God, no.” I asked, “But were not your women and children afraid?” He replied, mildly, “No; our women and children are not afraid to die.”
This was Wesley’s first encounter with this small Protestant movement. Wesley’s trip to Georgia, a mission for the Church of England, was a failure. He returned to England two years later disheartened. A friend invited to attend a Moravian meeting.
Both John, and his brother, Charles, the famed hymn writer, were at this time preaching a self-help message of good works which they believed was the true Christian message. They became friends with a German professor and Moravian believer, Peter Bohler.
“Do you hope to be saved?” Bohler asked the Wesley brothers. “I do.” they replied. “for what reason do you hope it?” Their answer: “Because I have used my best endeavours to serve God.” “My brother, my brother, that philosophy of yours must be purged away.”
One evening, as the speaker read from Martin Luther’s preface to the book of Romans, Wesley felt a stirring in his soul. That night he wrote, “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation: and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine.”
By observing the faith of poor immigrants who had nothing but their trust in Christ, Wesley found for himself true faith in Jesus Christ, a faith not built on good works, a fearless faith that took Wesley through many circumstances as dangerous as the waves of the Atlantic ocean.
Is your faith based on the hope that you’re good enough to enter Heaven? Jesus said:
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. John 10:9
He is the only door into Heaven. That door is wide open and waiting for you to enter.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I accept that you are the only way into Heaven. I believe you are the only one able to forgive my sins. I lay them down today at the foot of the cross and acknowledge you as my Savior.
Rose McCormick Brandon is the author of One Good Word Makes all the Difference and Promises of Home – Stories of Canada’s British Home Children. Visit her blogs: Listening to my Hair Grow and Promises of Home.