Jacky was five years old when his family’s house caught fire. Everyone escaped the burning building except the little boy. As the flames raged someone saw him in an upstairs bedroom window. Quickly they made a human chain and rescued him. His mother called him “a brand plucked from the burning.”

That event occurred February 9, 1709 and the boy’s name was John Wesley. He would grow up to become a man of great influence.

Twenty years later John and his brother Charles were leaders of a group of a religious study group known as the Holy Club. They were so methodical in their practice of study and devotion that people began referring them sarcastically as the “Methodists.” They studied the scriptures, celebrated Holy Communion frequently, fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays, and worked among the poor and in prisons.

Critics of the Holy Club said:            “By rule they eat, by rule they drink. By rule they do all things but think. Accuse the priests of loose behavior to get more in the laymen’s favor. Method alone must guide ‘em all when themselves ‘Methodists’ they call.”

John was ordained a priest in the Anglican Church on September 22, 1728. Following his father’s death in 1735 at the encouragement of a friend and Gen. James Oglethorpe, he and Charles came to the colony of Georgia in North America to provide spiritual guidance to the colonists and to evangelize the Indians. The venture was not successful and John returned to England in December 1737.

On his voyage to the New World John encountered a group of Moravian Christians who seemed to possess the spiritual peace he was seeking. After his return to England he attended one of their meetings on Aldersgate Street, London. That evening, May 24, 1738,  “Wesley’s intellectual conviction was transformed into a personal experience” of God’s grace. His description was that “I felt my heart was strangely warmed.” From that point on, at the age of 35, Wesley felt it was his mission to proclaim the good news of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.

Wesley’s “heart-warming” experience had dramatic effect upon him and his ministry. He covered thousands of miles (as many as 20,000 a year) on horseback preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Lives were changes and morals were altered for the better wherever he preached. Some historians credit him and the Methodist Movement that he started with sparing England the kind of tumultuous upheaval like the revolution that occurred in France.

Tomorrow marks the 275th anniversary of John Wesley’s Aldersgate experience. Millions of the spiritual descendants of John Wesley across the globe will celebrate the occasion when he felt he did “trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

I pray that millions will have the same kind of life-changing and world transforming experience in 2013.

Jamie Jenkins