By Greg Quiggle, dean, International Study Programs
The motto of the Student Volunteer Movement was “The evangelization of the world in this generation.” This movement, founded in the late nineteenth century, produced an estimated 100,000 missionaries until its dissolution in 1959. It is a testament to prayer and one of the many endeavors of DL Moody.
The ultimate origins of the movement can be traced to the prayers of a brother and sister named Robert and Grace Wilder. Grace was a graduate of Mount Holyoke College where Mr. Moody served as a trustee of the school. She developed a burden for foreign missions and prayer and enlisted her younger brother Robert, a student at Princeton, in her prayer efforts. Between 1884 and 1886 the two engaged in consistent and persistent prayer asking God for a great missionary awakening among college students.
In 1886, their prayers were answered through Mr. Moody and a gathering of college men on the campus of one of Moody’s schools, the Mount Hermon School in Northfield, Mass. Mr. Moody planned a series of meetings for college men in the summer of 1886 and Robert Wilder was invited to attend along with several others from Princeton. Before they left for Mount Hermon, Grace gathered the young Princeton men together and charged them to persevere in prayer so that this gathering might not close without the inauguration of a missionary movement.
The meetings convened with 251 young men from 89 different colleges. Mr. Moody spoke to the men for nearly four weeks and urged them to pray for a quickening from the Holy Spirit. As the students prayed, they began expressing a concern for the lost overseas. By the end of the meetings, 100 men had committed themselves to overseas missions. They became known as the Mount Hermon 100. These were the first of thousands who, many at Mr. Moody’s urging, would follow their example. These students would go throughout the world, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit, they would literally transform the face of the Church.
It all started with the prayers of a single college aged women. Prayer really does matter.