Edward Kimball

Edward KimballYou’ve probably heard of Billy Graham, and you may have heard of D.L. Moody.  But have you ever heard of Edward Kimball?  Probably not.  But his story is worth knowing, and hopefully it will encourage you when you’re fearful about sharing your faith.

Edward Kimball was a simple, everyday person, just like you and me.  He also happened to be a Sunday school teacher.  One day Edward Kimball decided to visit one of the young men from his Sunday school class where the student worked – in a shoe store.  He wanted to talk with this young student about what Christ had done for him and about his need to receive God’s free gift of salvation.  But as he approached the store, he got cold feet and almost chickened out.  Mustering up just enough courage, he went into the shoe store, explained the gospel message to his young Sunday school student, and then promptly walked out of the store.  This young student was so impressed by Edward Kimball’s courage, conviction, and care that he gave his life to Christ right then and there.  The young student’s name was D.L. Moody.

D.L. Moody went on to preach the gospel to about 100 million people throughout North America and Europe during the late 1800’s.  During a trip to Europe, Moody preached in a little chapel pastored by a young man named F.B. Meyer.  In his sermon, Moody told the story about a Sunday school teacher who personally went to every student in his class and led each of them to Christ.  That message changed Pastor Meyer’s ministry, inspiring him to become an evangelist like Moody.

Meyer eventually came to America, and while speaking in Northfield, Massachusetts, a young man heard Meyer ask the question: “If you are not willing to give up everything for Christ, are you willing to be made willing?”  That remark led J. Wilbur Chapman to respond to the call of God on his life.

During Chapman’s evangelistic work, a young professional baseball player named Billy Sunday served as his assistant for a brief time, helping to organize his evangelistic meetings.

Billy Sunday held an evangelistic campaign in Charlotte in 1924, and a men’s prayer and fellowship group, known as the Charlotte Businessmen’s Club, grew out of those meetings.  This group was later instrumental in inviting an evangelist named Mordecai Ham to Charlotte for some meetings in 1934.

During the Mordecai Ham 1934 Charlotte meetings, a lanky teenage boy attended, with a dose of reluctance and at the gentle persuasion of some loved ones.  He felt as though Ham was speaking directly to him, and during one of the meetings, he decided to surrender his life to Christ.  His name was Billy Graham.  He would go on to proclaim the gospel message face to face to more people than anyone else in history.

Such is the ripple effect of a common and somewhat timid Sunday school teacher named Edward Kimball, who one day decided to share the gospel message with one of his students.  He didn’t let his fears outweigh his desire to share the message of salvation with others.

I can never hope to be like Billy Graham or D.L. Moody.  But just maybe I could be like Edward Kimball.  And maybe you can too!

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