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Read:  Mark 3:31-35

31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him.   32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?”  34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!      35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

“There are two things to do about the gospel. Believe it and behave it.”   – Susanna Wesley

The proverb says, “Behind every great man is a great woman”.  That’s true of John and Charles Wesley, and it was their mother, Susanna Wesley. The Wesleys began a spiritual renewal movement within the Church of England, and a spiritual revival in England, that spread to the American colonies.  It had a great impact on western history.  It helped end slavery in England, without violence, long before the Civil War ended it in the USA.  They reformed working conditions and child labor laws.  Debtors prisons ended, which incarcerated the poor.  Some historians believe the Methodist revival saved the British monarchy by preventing a bloody revolution through social reforms and spiritual renewal.  God’s love and word flourished.

Susanna grew up a “pastor’s kid”; her father was a pastor in the “Dissenters Church” – a church that was more in touch with the common people.  She was very well educated, especially for a woman born in 1669.  She married Samuel Wesley in 1688; he was a priest in the Church of England.  They had 19 children, however, back then infant and childhood mortality were very high, so they lost 9 children in infancy, and at the time of her death in 1742, only 8 of her children were still alive.  Susanna knew adversity, but her strong faith helped her persevere.

Twice Susanna’s husband, Rev. Samuel Wesley, was put in debtors prison, leaving her to manage the entire household by herself. Susanna was a deeply spiritual woman, who prayed often and at length for each of her children.  She led a weekly Bible study in her home/barn that were more popular than her husband’s church services, with more than a hundred gathered.  Susanna taught her children Greek and Latin, a foundation that would allow them to thrive at Oxford University.

A parsonage fire nearly took the life of her young son, John.  He miraculously jumped from the second story window of the fire-consumed house into the arms of rescuers seconds before the entire house collapsed in fire.  She dedicated him to God, and from that point on believed that God would use John in a remarkable way.

Shalom,

Pastor Rob Nystrom