In the midst of America’s Civil War, Emma Revell married Dwight L. Moody. He was a dedicated Christian who began as a successful shoe salesman but felt called to teach the gospel in a poor area of Chicago. So many families came that he and Emma founded the Illinois Street Church (now known as Moody Church). Their first seven years together saw the growth of Moody’s ministry. And for one of those years, they provided a room for Emma’s twenty-year-old brother, Fleming, to live.
In 1867 Moody created Everybody’s Paper which was a means to distribute his sermons and was primarily used by Sunday schools. In 1870 he convinced Fleming H. Revell to take over the publishing work. and a publishing company under the brother-in-law’s name was formed. For many years Fleming H. Revell (publishing) became the source for many of Moody’s books but also others of a practical Christian living character. One-hundred-and-fifty-two years later, Revell is still publishing great books as part of Baker Publishing Group (click here for their recent catalogs). Moody became concerned about the price of books and desired to have them available for the poorest in society, so in 1894 he founded the Bible Institute Colportage Association, where books were sold for 10 cents each. Later (in 1941) the company was renamed Moody Press.
But what about Emma?
We know a little about her since a biography was written by their daughter Emma Moody Powell and published by Moody Press in 1943 called Heavenly Destiny: The Life of Mrs. Dwight L. Moody. Consider the strength she exhibited in 1871 when the Chicago Fire broke out. Dwight was away that night preaching, so she calmly dressed their children in two sets of clothing and helped them flee to safety. (On a side note, both the offices of Revell Publishing and the Illinois Street Church were destroyed that night.)
She handled the enormous amount of correspondence for their ministry, as well as the finances. She taught children for decades and was right there for the establishment of the Northfield (Massachusetts) Seminary for girls in 1879, the Mount Hermon School for boys in 1881, and the Chicago Bible Institute (now the Moody Bible Institute) in 1889. She raised their children and traveled with Dwight, often playing the organ at the services.
Dwight wrote of her, “I have never ceased to wonder at two things–the use God has made of me despite my many handicaps, and the miracle of having won the love of a woman who is so completely my superior with such a different temperament and background.”
Here we have someone who avoided the limelight but served the Lord in her calling faithfully her entire life. She was there when her brother-in-law and her husband discussed the start of what became a powerful publishing company and later the founding of the Moody Bible Institute.
God may have placed you in a position of influence to encourage a budding writer or speaker, to give monetary or prayer support to someone in ministry. You may never know the extent of your faithfulness for the work of the kingdom.
You can read more about her in The Woman Who Shaped Dwight L. Moody by Grace Ida Rajan.