A Children's Story

I would like to share a children's story I wrote for a class on Methodist history this summer.  The assignment was to cover John Wesley's days at Oxford through his Aldersgate experience.

This morning I want to tell you a story about a man named John, John Wesley.  Do any of you know who he is?  Mr. Wesley is credited with the founding of the Methodist church, the same kind of church that we are in today.  John went off to college to begin studying after he finished his education as a kid.  John was always praying and studying the Bible.  He even began to tell anyone who would listen about God and Jesus.  Eventually, John and his brother Charles joined a religious club where the members of the club with their friends.  In this club the group of friends would study the Bible, worship God, and pray together.  One of his friends suggested that he begin to keep a diary so that he could look back and make sure that he was being honest and trustworthy in his behavior.  How many of you have a diary?  John would write down everything he did during the day and all of his feelings.

After John's time in college he set out of a trip across the Atlantic ocean with his brother Charles to be a missionary in the Georgia colony.  Have any of you ever been to Georgia?  On his trip across the ocean, the boat sailed through some violent storms: crashing waves, thunder and lightening, and heavy rain storms.  John feared for his life.  He was scared out of his boots!  He saw some of his fellow passengers during and after the storm praying and praising God.  He was jealous of this groups of peoples faith and belief that God would protect them.

John planned to minister to the Native Americans, along with the colonists who were traveling with him and who were already in Georgia.  After two years in Georgia, John had not accomplished as much as he had wanted to.  He had prejudices against the Native Americans.  He believed what everyone had told him about the Native Americans instead of learning about the people for himself.  He got back on a boat and sailed all the way back to England.
Although John was discouraged when he go back to England he was still eager to grow his faith.  He began to make many new friends.  These friends began to help John figure out just how to build a closer relationship with God and what that relationship would be like and feel like.  One day while going to meet some of his friends for a Bible study John said that his "heart felt strangely warm".  He knew that this was God reminding him that Jesus had washed his sins away and that John was now saved from death.  John could not wait to tell his friends about the experience and told the story of what had happened to him and exactly how he felt to all of the his friends who had gathered together that night for their study.
And that friends is a little bit about John Wesley and how he began to learn how to live a faithful life, trusting in God, and being honest with himself.
This assignment while at the time I thought was ridiculous was helpful.  It is easy to think of our history and doctrine in academic terms.  By taking the story of Wesley and turning it into a story children could understand I was able to look at the history of the Methodist movement through another set of eyes.