On January 31, 2011 we announced the launch of the official release of The MBI Story: The Vision and Worldwide Impact of Moody Bible Institute. We asked the author if he would highlight some facts he found most interesting in his research.
By Jim Vincent, senior editor, Moody Publishers
Here’s a fun fact: The Bible Institute for Home and Foreign Missions—Moody Bible Institute’s formal name when D. L. Moody was alive—operated a hotel for six months in 1893.
The Bible Institute had begun classes in 1889, and one year later President Benjamin Harrison designated Chicago as the site of the World’s Columbian Exposition. When this elegant world’s fair opened May 1, 1893, Moody the evangelist was ready. He had invited singers, speakers and noted evangelists from the United States and abroad to join him in an international outreach at various sites near the exposition, located just eight miles from the Bible Institute.
But where would he house the various guests that would come and go during the fair? One year earlier the Bible Institute had added two floors to the 153 Building, the first structure on campus. The additional floors would increase the dorm space for male students. It wasn’t fully occupied, however, so Moody and his team made the Institute the headquarters for the crusade.
Three hundred out-of-towners and preachers came, many staying in “Hotel Moody,” along with some students who participated as counselors and helpers. Preachers from Germany, Poland, Russia and France led services for international guests in their native languages. And at the end of a long day and evening, they would return to the Bible Institute for a good night’s sleep.
That is just one of several surprise discoveries I made while doing research for The MBI Story, a book that chronicles 125 years of Institute history as Moody Bible Institute celebrates its anniversary this year.
Here are three others:
R. A. Torrey, president from 1899 (upon Moody’s death) to 1904, later would become dean of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. As the second president of Moody Bible Institute and the first dean of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University), Torrey became “the only man to have been head of the two largest Bible institutes in the world,” according to Will Houghton, Moody’s fourth president.
Equally amazing, President Houghton had been a vaudeville comedian before he sensed God’s call into the ministry. He left the theatrical genre to become a song leader, singer and, eventually, a preacher. His own spiritual turnaround caught the attention of audiences. When thenMoody President James Gray heard the gifted pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in downtown Manhattan, he declared, “There is the man to follow me at the Institute.”
A fourth discovery is the modern, much-in demand athletic facility known as the Solheim Center. I was a student and employee in the days of the cramped North Hall and I remember the cracker box court that gave players at most three feet before they would crash into the end wall.
I marvel at the Solheim, with its three side-by-side basketball courts. From 1991–2005 the NBA held its rookie camp here, and in the 1990s three different U.S.A. basketball teams trained at the Solheim before winning gold medals in international competition. Today, NBA teams still practice here before facing the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. What a blessing from God this spacious, modern facility is—one of several surprise developments during Moody’s 125 years.