By Caleb Beatty, undergraduate student at Moody Bible Institute
I’ve always been intrigued by Emma Dryer. I’ve spent my entire career as a Moody student living in a dormitory named after her, and I’ve heard much about her from my parents and grandparents who are Moody alumni. I even live in Normal, Ill. where Ms. Dryer lived prior to moving to Chicago to work with the famous evangelist, D.L. Moody.
Little is written about her, and even less is left of her writings. Though she had kept a journal throughout her entire life, she burned them all shortly before her death. What we know about Ms. Dryer is mostly from letters and interviews now kept in the archives of Moody Bible Institute. I had the privilege of examining these letters a couple semesters ago as part of a research project. What I found was a woman in love with the Word of God and motivated by the power of prayer.
For years Ms. Dryer prayed asking the Lord to lay an idea for a school in Chicago upon D.L. Moody’s heart. In a personal letter to Mr. Moody, Dryer wrote, “Through loneliness and trouble, and constraint, wearing work, then I held on. When others shuddered, I believed. When others hurried away, I prayed on and worked on. When others said you were never meant to come here, I believed that God had made you speak The Truth, in preaching and planned purposes. And I prayed on.”
Weekly prayer group meetings began every Saturday morning in 1883 with one goal in mind: the “establishment of the Bible Work in Chicago, and the training of missionaries for home and foreign fields.” For three years they prayed for the school to be established. In 1886 Emma’s prayers were answered. Moody Bible Institute was founded under the name Chicago Evangelization Society.
Emma Dryer was one of a faithful group of people praying for the school which I now attend, one hundred and twenty-five years later. As we celebrate our 125th anniversary at MBI, I wonder who will be impacted by my prayers, one hundred and twenty-five years from now?