The Mission Imperative - John Wesley

‘Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD:
Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; ‘

(Isaiah 51:1)
It was well worth visiting Wesley's Chapel in the city of London.  I could picture the 18th century founder of Methodism in the pulpit, visit his modest house and learn a little more about Methodist history in the museum.
I knew something of his background as an ardent university student at Oxford where his methodical and systematic approach to devotion and study earned him and a group of friends the unofficial title of 'Methodists'.  I knew of his early ministry as an Anglican priest, his ministry in Georgia, USA, his spiritual awakening and his emphasis on holiness. But I had no idea of his interest in electrical therapy. ‘So even someone with such significant theological ability could be concerned about human health and well-being,' I thought.
But perhaps the most enduring memory was to see the simple kneeler in the small room off his bedroom - his place for prayer.
Here was an Anglican with a difference. His formal training for the priesthood completed, he associated with the Moravians, generally recognised as the first post-reformation missionary society. But it was with the Anglican-oriented United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel that he went to Georgia. His ministry was compromised by the breakdown in a romantic relationship and he returned to England, surviving a dramatically frightening trans- Atlantic passage.
Still under the continuing influence of the Moravians, he experienced a radical deepening of faith. He discovered in a new way that spiritual transformation is ‘by grace through faith’. He eventually broke from the Anglicans and Methodism was born.
He called the world his parish, but concentrated his own ministry on England. Wesley’s assistant, Thomas Coke, was the driving force for world mission that ultimately led to the formation of the Methodist Missionary Society in 1818. It is an example of a leader needing others to help him achieve his vision; or for one to concentrate on the ‘home base’ and another ‘the field’. Wesley saw Coke as his likely successor; others had different views. Unperturbed, Coke devoted himself to the fundamental task of initiating, organising and (importantly) financing the earliest overseas missions. Even Wesley and Coke were not without their opponents!
I left the chapel reflecting on whether any of this was relevant for us today - for current day Methodists, for The Salvation Army (it grew out of Methodism) and for me.
I add another question today: What about The Leprosy Mission?

 October 2022