If you ever want to feel ashamed of being a Christian, don't read the book "the Journal of John Wesley." What this man did during a small snippet of his lifetime would make the greatest today placed in shame, including Billy Graham. I am not going to say what Billy Graham, and others, did were not significant, not at all. What I have read so far (and made it about 60% at the time of this blog), the effort we put into preaching and witnessing pales to the work of John Wesley.
Most of his travels came by horse, while others were done by either boat or walking. The weather in England can get nasty at times and it was no different during the 18th century. He dealt with rain, hail, wind and snowstorms, yet, he traversed through much of this so he could preach all over England and Ireland, with some time sent in the American colonies.
He was met by mobs and beaten on some occasions. Quite a few churches he was never invited back, his strong words were threatening enough for the sinners some churches needed to keep. Even through some of his strong preaching (the majority done in fields, as was George Whitefield, because the churches couldn't contain the size), he ministered to felons and captured French soldiers. Through this, he collected donations so the soldiers could be kept warm and sleep on decent mattresses while imprisoned.
During one three week stretch, he preached at six churches, in which he was told by the deacons of five of them he could not return. Another episode John Wesley spoke of was when a mob riled up a bull and set him loose, only to see the bull run around where the crowd was singing and praising God until it collapsed from exhaustion.
It is very well possible that in many cases, John Wesley would not approve of the way American churches do services today. He noted one church would be talking during certain parts of preaching and have no problems in church being loud right after the service. Another church in Ireland were just plain disrespectful to any church, and he commanded them to be more upright. He believed the entering and leaving the House of God demanded reverence, wherever the Word of God was being preached.
John Wesley faced much opposition. In one saying, he mentioned he hated field preaching as much as the devil did. Today, we want the best of conditions: cozy seats, air conditioning, some won't go to church if the weather becomes bad. Not so with John Wesley. He went through it all. Preached in the wind and the rain, against mobs that would throw stones to break doors and windows where he was staying. Interestingly, he saw this rebellion as some needing to hear the gospel; which persuaded him further on until his death.
He remembered some unique times where people would be instigators and later apologize. Other times seeing people what appeared to be trances where God was showing them glory for some and damnation to others. He strongly believed in fasting as an assembly and spending long times in prayer. Lastly, from what I read so far, he never kept track of his "converts." It was never a numbers game for him, it was being faithful for all he had.
We boast of two or three that said the "sinner's prayer," while men like Wesley and George Whitefield went out and just their witness commanded thousands to come to hear their message of sin and salvation. Both men saw many needed salvation while the church was backsliding and needed to return to her foundation. Wesley was so strongly convicted in his faith of Jesus Christ, he felt all compelled to preach to all the country.
How we all should have this amount of faith and fear of God - including me.