Thursday, February 16, 2012
Can God use me? (Part 3)
We began this series by asking “what sort of people does God use?”
I am answering the question by looking at five examples of different people from significantly diverse backgrounds and cultures. My first two examples were the biblical examples of Moses, the ageing shepherd and Saul, the violent persecutor.
My next three examples are men who were leaders in the Primitive Methodist movement. The first of the three is Hugh Bourne (1772 – 1852).
Hugh was one of the founders of this movement that grew rapidly from 10 members in 1810 to over half a million in attendance in their chapels and meeting places by 1851 (as measured by the census in England). There were many radical conversions as violent, angry men became passionate followers of Jesus Christ.
Hugh grew up with an alcoholic father on a remote farm in the English midlands. By nature he was extremely shy, probably because of the isolated location of the farm. He had terrible nightmares as a child of the fear of hell. These lasted into adult years and only stopped when he became a believer at age 27. His conversion to Christ brought joy and freedom from these nightmares.
For Hugh Bourne, public speaking was a constant challenge. Whenever he spoke in public, he put one hand to his face, a mannerism that stayed with him for most of his life. Like Moses, God used him to overcome his fear of public speaking, and become a co-founder of a socially and spiritually significant movement during the early years of the industrial revolution.
His education was limited and much of what he learned was self-taught. In later years he wrote prolifically, and taught himself Greek, Hebrew and Latin. He was a rigorous thinker, and used techniques like Edward De Bono’s “thinking hats” to test an idea. He tested ideas by pretending to have a courtroom where the defence and prosecuting lawyers laid out the case, for and against the proposition. He was forthright in open debate, and he was well-known for his short temper.
God uses all sorts.
God used this introverted, self taught farm boy to begin a movement that transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of poor, illiterate working class men and women and children. Those whose lives were hopeless found hope in Jesus Christ.
Next post: The extrovert
Moses the ageing shepherd
Saul the violent persecutor
More on Hugh Bourne