Emma (Revell) Moody

Dwight Moody’s indomitable spouse

Emma Revell emigrated from England with her family in 1849. The eldest of four children, Emma was her father’s favorite because of her calm sensibility, sensitivity, and keen sense of humor. Nine years later, those qualities attracted the attention of Dwight L. Moody, who later commented in a letter to his mother that his fiancee was “a good Christian girl.”

She was 15 when she met Moody in a Baptist Sunday school class; he was recruiting workers for his Sunday school on Chicago Avenue and Wells Street. Emma worked in Moody’s organization for one year before she and Moody were engaged in 1859. Not long after, the successful young businessman decided to renounce business to preach the gospel. Emma faced a choice: become the wife of an itinerant evangelist with no guarantee of support, or abandon the man she had grown to love. She took a teaching position in a Chicago public school to support herself during their three-year engagement and continued to work alongside Moody in the Sunday school.

On August 28, 1862, amid the confusion of the Civil War, Emma Revell became a bride. The records of the Moodys’ early years together are scanty, due in part to the war and to the fact their first house probably burned down. This was only the portent of a life that would test Emma Moody’s mettle.

In 1871 the Chicago Fire gutted the section of the city where the Moodys lived. Moody was preaching at church on the Sunday evening the blaze lit up the Chicago skyline. Alone at home with their two small children, Emma calmly dressed each child in two suits of clothing and led them to the window before they fled, promising them a sight they would never forget: a cityscape engulfed in flames. ...

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