What God can do with one dedicated life


Francis Ashbury


In an area of airplanes, luxury cars (even not so luxury) and trains, it is hard to understand the lives of the circuit riders of the early Methodist church. A circuit rider preacher was someone that had a number of churches that he visited as often as possible but also planting new churches. The average life expectancy of a circuit rider was 31 – because of the hardship they endured.


Ashbury’s biography makes for fascinating reading. Few could have worked harder. His life is an example of someone that took up his call, put his hand to the plough, never looking back and worked with all his might – till he died. The rest was up to God. And God honored it. There was much fruit on his work.


Francis Asbury (1744-1816) was converted at 15 in his father’s barn. He had been raised in a Christian home, but it took the Methodist revivals to capture his soul. At 17 he was licensed by the Methodists as a local preacher. Teaching himself, he corrected serious deficiencies in his education. At four each morning he rose to read and study for two hours. Ten hours of each sixteen that he was awake he gave to reading and study. In America he carried books in his saddle bags and read as he rode. He made it a rule to read at least 100 pages a day.


In August 7, 1771 he heard an appeal by John Wesley: “Our brethren in America call aloud for help. Who are willing to go over and help them?” Asbury offered himself. Several other candidates also stepped forth, but Wesley sensed that Asbury was the man for the job.


He came to small, widely scattered congregations. To meet their needs he rode incessantly – 5,000 miles a year. He preached 17,000 sermons – that is at least one sermon a day for 45 years. He ordained 3,000 preachers, founded five schools and distributed thousands of pieces of literature. His organizational skills divided America into circuits and his circuit riders learned the hard life from him. Many, such as Peter Cartwright, became famous in their own right. At Asbury’s death the Methodist Episcopal Church was the largest denomination in the United States.


In him Christ once again showed what he could do with a single dedicated life.

About the author

Bennie Mostert
By Bennie Mostert