Today in Christian History

February 5

February 5, 1597: Twenty-six Japanese Christians are crucified for their faith in Nagasaki, Japan. By 1640, thousands of Japanese Christians had been martyred.

February 5, 1631: English clergyman Roger Williams arrives in America. After questioning Massachusetts' fusion of church and state, he was banished. He bought land from native Americans and founded Rhode Island, where he established America's first Baptist church in America. His writings on religious liberty were greatly influential in securing that freedom later in America.

February 5, 1736: Methodism cofounders and brothers John and Charles Wesley arrive in Savannah, Georgia. They were to be missionaries to the native Americans, and John was to be pastor of the Savannah parish. Their efforts failed. "I went to America to convert the Indians; but O! who shall convert me?" he asked two years later (see issue 2: John Wesley and issue 69: Charles & John Wesley).

February 5, 1837: Dwight Lyman (D.L.) Moody, the greatest evangelist of his day and one of the greatest revivalists of all time, is born in Northfield, Massachusetts. Speaking to 10,000 or 20,000 at a time, he presented his message, by voice or pen, to at least 100 million people (see issue 25: D.L. Moody).

February 5, 1864: Having already established herself as a poet, 44-year-old Fanny Crosby pens her first hymn. She went on to write 8,000 more before her death 50 years later.

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November 19, 1861: At the suggestion of her minister, abolitionist Julia Ward Howe wrote "some good words to that tune" of the popular song "John Brown's Body." In February, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" was published in the Atlantic Monthly and became very popular, especially after the Civil War (see issue 33: Christianity and the Civil War).

November 19, 1862: Baseball player-turned-revivalist William (Billy) Sunday is born in Iowa. An estimated 100 million ...

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