Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: birthday (05/23/05)
TITLE: THE ALDERSGATE EXPERIENCE
By Phyllis Inniss
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I had the most exhilarating experience on Sunday 22nd May. I attended the 266th birthday of John Wesley’s conversion to Methodism in 1739. The auditorium was cold when I entered, but the place soon warmed up with the feeling of expectancy and the fine organization of the proceedings. On the stage was one of the choirs, young people, leading the congregation in singing inspirational hymns. This set the tone for the rest of the proceedings. There was a sense of warmth and peace. Then a dynamic female minister came up to the podium and greeted us all in the precious name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. I had heard her preach once before and was really impressed. She comes from Anguilla, one of the islands further North in the Caribbean, and I was looking forward to hearing her again.
However, the Master of Ceremonies came on to give the welcome address and to introduce the other ministers on the stage. As we moved through the programme, it was now time for the sermon. Reverend Wade from Belize, Honduras in Central America delivered the most awe-inspiring sermon, one I shall never forget. He started with a personal testimony that brought tears to my eyes. A hurricane that was expected to hit Cuba, instead devastated the area in Belize, where as a little boy of thirteen the Reverend lived. He escaped death by holding on to a coconut trunk for dear life, in swirling waters. When everything had subsided he found that he was all alone. All his family – mother, father, brothers, sisters - had died in the hurricane. He had lost everything, except the clothes on his back and they were all torn. All alone at thirteen.
At sixteen he decided to give his life to God and to become a minister. I couldn’t help wonder at God’s mysterious saving grace. He chose this man out of his peculiar and excruciating experience to be a minister in order to spread His word. He brought him to our country to attend a conference. When asked, he agreed to give the sermon for the Aldersgate service . He gave such a powerful sermon and lifted the congregation to such heights with his preaching that the tears that blurred my eyes before were now moving me to thank God for the opportunity to see how God turns things around for us if we have the faith.
The Aldersgate experience is based on John Wesley’s conversion at a meeting in Aldersgate, London. After graduating from Oxford, England, he became an Anglican priest. He had joined a movement whose aim was to shun evil and avoid partaking in wicked deeds at all costs, to perform kind acts as much as possible and to abide by the edicts of God, the Almighty Father. It was on these beliefs Methodism was born. Every year on the Sunday closest to May 24th the anniversary of Wesley’s founding of the Methodist religion is celebrated by members of the faith. Reverend Wade challenged us to question whether we were adhering to what was right. “Has God forgotten Methodists?” he asked. A resounding “NO” thundered through the hall. The crescendo of voices surely told God we still believe in Him and want Him in our lives. The Reverend reminded us that as a church, we must set the example for the society, for the region, and not be influenced by the negatives taking place in the world.
Listening to this electrifying sermon, I thanked God for letting me be part of this experience. I knew God was truly in this place and I just felt He had chosen me to be there at that time. Had the event taken place at a venue that was further away from where I lived, I might not have gone. The hymn singing that Methodists lustily give voice to was accompanied by shouts and exclamations of praise and thanks for this Holy Man, Jesus. He came to earth over two thousand years ago to redeem us from our sins and bring hope and joy in our lives if we would but put our trust and faith in Him. His name is revered above all other names in the universe. Other names, great as they may be, we hear for a time and for some of the time. Jesus’ name is here for all time, even unto the end of the earth. Great is His Holiness! The Lord’s name be praised!
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