Saturday, March 31, 2007

This Week in Texas Methodist History April 1

John Howell McLean Converted April 5, 1854

In 1918 a superannuated preacher finally found time to write his Reminiscences. His life to that point had been a virtual history of Texas Methodism for the previous sixty years. He had been both a student and a teacher at McKenzie College, Regent of Southwestern University, Presiding Elder of the Dallas District during that city's rise to regional prominence, Superintendent of the Methodist Home in Waco, and nine times a delegate to General Conference, seven times the delegation's leader. His Reminiscences were studded with the names of prominent Texas politicians, physicians, attorneys, and church people. His remarkable life in the church really began as a fifteen year old. This is how John Howell McLean described it

My conversion, April 5, 1854, while kneeling at the mourners' bench in the College chapel during a revival, and while engaged in earnest, agonizing prayer, was bright and unmistakeable. The transition from darkness into light, from condemnation into conscious peace and acceptance with God was sudden and attended with ecstatic joy. At once I became missionary in spirit and began pleading with the unsaved to share with me this blessed experience of conscious salvation.

Such conversion experiences were the norm for 19th century Methodists. As a matter of fact, revivals were designed to produce such an experience. Naturally some converts were unable to translate the emotional intensity of the revival into a lifetime of Christian service as John McLean did, but numerous autobiographies attest to the power of revivals to transform lives.



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