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D. L. Moody and the Modern Missions Movement

D. L. Moody and the Modern Missions Movement

How 100 committed missionaries led to 100,000.
  • Gregg Quiggle
  • September 8, 2021

Dwight L. Moody played a key role in the development of evangelical missionary outreach. His Mount Hermon Bible Conference in Northfield, Massachusetts, became the impetus of the Student Volunteer Movement.

During the 1885 conference, Moody held a day of meetings dedicated to missions. Prominent proponents for foreign missions like A. T. Pierson challenged the attendees to spread the gospel throughout the world as quickly as possible. Pierson’s challenge captured one of the leaders of the college wing of the YMCA, Luther Wishard, who then convinced Moody to convene another conference of college men, spurring them into foreign missions. The missions conference was attended by 251 delegates from 88 schools in 22 states and Canada.

By the end of the conference 100 college men had pledged themselves to foreign mission service. They became known as the “Mount Hermon or Moody 100.” News of those first hundred volunteers spread, and when they gathered at Northfield the following year, their numbers had swelled to 2,000. The growth continued, eventually reaching 100,000. Of that number about 20,000 would end up overseas. The other 80,000 remained at home but formed a Laymen’s Missionary Movement and strengthened existing women’s missionary societies.

These were crucial supports to those overseas. The 100,000 number is impressive, especially considering the low college attendance of the 1880s and ’90s—less than three percent of college students today.

As it developed, the Student Volunteer Movement established two goals: One, to recruit students from North America to pursue a career as overseas missionaries. Two, to nurture and train those already committed. The vision was to create thousands of well-trained, spiritually disciplined students who were committed to world evangelization.

The movement was incredibly effective, and thousands of young men and women gave themselves to the cause of making Christ known throughout the world. They literally changed the world. Some of the missionaries and mission organizations known today could likely trace themselves to this event and ultimately to D. L.  Moody’s passion for the lost.

About the Author

  • Gregg Quiggle

Dr. Gregg Quiggle is the D. L. Moody Professor of Theology at Moody Bible Institute.