Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899), evangelist and Christian educator, was born in Northfield, Massachusetts. Leaving home at a young age Moody travelled to Boston where he became a successful shoe salesman. While in Boston he was converted by a Congregationalist Sunday-school teacher named Edward Kimball and soon afterward directed much of his efforts towards preaching the gospel. Employing the skills he had acquired as a salesmen Moody filled the Congregational church pews he was attending with business associates and others he met on the street. Additionally, Moody possessed great enthusiasm for helping abused, poor and sick people, and in 1858 started a Sunday school in the slums of Chicago. He also concentrated his efforts on the education of women and in 1879 started Northfield seminary, a training college for women.
Although never possessing a formal education, Moody was an incessant student always wanting to know more about theology even as he was teaching others. His preaching style comprised a blend of American optimism and evangelical Arminianism and had a profound effect on tens of thousands throughout the world.He was also the first evangelist to popularize the premillennial eschatological view and was known to have famously proclaimed, “I look upon this world as a wrecked vessel. God has given me a lifeboat and said to me, ‘Moody, save all you can.’” Moody is best known for his extremely successful revival campaigns throughout Britain (1873-75) and America (1875-79) together with the founding of an independent evangelical church in Chicago and the Bible Institute of the Chicago Evangelization Society, later renamed Moody Bible Institute.
For further reading see Lyle W. Dorsett, A Passion for Souls: The Life of D.L. Moody (Moody, 1997); J.F. Findlay Jr, Dwight L. Moody: American Evangelist 1837-1899. (Chicago,1969).