…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

God calls a layman

Henry Parsons Crowell was the founder of the Quaker Oats Company.  One day, the Lord spoke to him …

The autumn months and winter passed without too much  difficulty.  Missing the daily discipline of devotions and Bible study at Greylock, Henry began to seriously read the Bible on his own.

His Bible study impressed upon Henry that there was great significance in the tithe.  He counted a tenth of his income and brought it to church every Sunday.  It was a lesson learned soundly and the habit would be forever with him.  Learning to give God his portion when earning only hundreds of dollars set the pattern for his future when his income would rise to over a million dollars a year.

There was another event that would leave its mark on the young man.  It was spring 1873, and Henry was eighteen.  There was a special meeting at the Second Presbyterian Church in Cleveland.  A fiery businessman turned evangelist had been invited to speak.  He was mostly unpolished and a self-educated man but he had a dynamic message.

His name was Dwight Lyman Moody, originally from New England, now from Chicago.  Moody told the congregation that his heart was on fire to get to Great Britain and preach.

“Now most of you know that I planned to be in Liverpool, England,” Moody told his audience.  “The churches there sent me an invitation to come.  They said they’d follow it up with money for travel.  But so far, it ain’t come.  So, when your pastor extended me the invitation to come to Cleveland, I didn’t hav a good reason to turn him down.  So here I am!”  Moody’s speech was down to earth but filled with passion.

As Henry thought of the well-crafted and sonorous words of his school president, Benjamin Mills, Moody seemed rough-hewn and plain.  But, like Mr Mills, Moody’s words hung in the air in the front of Henry’s mind then pounced inside for effect.  Henry couldn’t take his eyes off the evangelist.

Now, I want ya to know,” Moody said loudly, “that I like to think big things for God!  Do you?  Fr’instance, I wanna go to England and win ten thousand souls.  Can ya imagine?  Why that’s a thousand times more people than what’s here tonight.  Think of it.”  He paused to let his words sink in.

“And what about you?” Moody’s gaze, as well as his words, seemed directed exactly at Henry.  He caught his breath and listened.

“That’s right.  What about you?  Do you ever think big things for God?  Huh?”

The big room was absolutely silent, save for a muffled cough or two.

Henry rolled the thought over in his mind … ever think big things for God?

Moody continued.  “The reason I like to think big things for God is that He deserves it.  Now whether its evangelism, or your work, or your money.  Whatever it is, you ought to think of big ways you can be used for God.  Now let me tell you ’bout a feller I met in Ireland.”

Hary’s gaze and attention were firmly fixed on the speaker.  Moody was not terribly tall, but his heavy-set frame made him seem more imposing.  His dark beard moved up and down, and his arms were animated as he  spoke.

“That feller I met in Ireland was Henry Varley.  Lemme tell you what he told me.  Varley sez t’me,  ‘  The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him‘”

Moody repeated the sentence for emphasis.  “Now listen,” he cried out.  “That was like the Word of God to my soul.  Those words pierced my heart.  Listen!  The world has yet to see … what God can do with a man … and what God can do for a man … And what God can do through and in a man.  And Varley meant any man!  He didn’t say he had to be educated.”

The words again seemed directed to Henry.

The evangelist continued, hammering the air for emphasis.  “Varley didn’t say he had to be brilliant, or rich, or anything else.  A man.  Just a man!  Well, I told God, that with the Holy Spirit in me, I’ll be that man.  And what about you?  Will you be one of those men?  Is your God worthy of such a commitment?

Henry Crowell could not hold back his tears.  He put his face into his hands, bowing his head on the back of the pew in front of him, sunk low in submission.  Moody’s voice reinforced Henry’s conviction that God was speaking directly to him.

“That’s why I want to dream great things for God,” the evangelist said.  “I want to get back to England and win ten thousand souls for the Savior.  And what about you? What great thing will you do?   Remember, Varley said, ‘A man.  Any man‘  Will you be such a man?”

The evangelist sat down at the front of the church as the pastor concluded the service in prayer.  Henry was so powerfully affected that he slipped quietly outside.  Walking away from the church, he heard the people singing a hymn.

He walked slowly along the lake shore, lost in thought for some time, watching the water and listening to its gentle lapping.  After awhile, Henry sat down on a large rock, still shaken by Moody’s words.

God, Henry prayed  silently, there is no mistaking that these have been your Words to me.  I can see that You can use me even if I must leave school.  Mr Moody said I don’t have to be an educated man, or brilliant, or anything.  Just a man.  Lord by your grace and with the help of the Holy Spirit, I’ll be that man.

Still deep in meditation, Henry thought about what he might do for God.  What kind of big dreams should he have in the service of God?  I know I can never preach like Mr Moody … but maybe I can do something else great for you.  Lord maybe I can make money and help support men like D.L. Moody.

The thought was there, but how did it get there?  As Henry reflected he knew this was something he wanted to do for God.  This would be his dream, a dream of great things for the Lord.  But then Varley’s words to Moody came back to Henry — a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.

Henry knew that part was as important as the first part concerning availability.

He continued in prayer. Oh God … if You will alow me to make money, to be used for Your service, I’ll keep my name out of it.  I’ll do it so You will get the glory.

This was his sincere commitment, Henry meant it.  This purposeful prayer and subsequent resolve to make money for the Lord’s service was sealed, a commitment which eventually enabled God to entrust millions of dollars with Henry.

As Henry walked back to the church, the service was over.  The people had been dismissed and Moody was gone.  Henry wanted to shake his hand and thank him for the powerful message that God brought to young Crowell through the evangelist.  But he was not there.  And Henry would never see Moody again.

fix me


If my life can always be lived so as to please Him in every way,
I’ll be supremely happy.
– Henry Parsons Crowell

The legacy of Henry Parsons Crowell continues to this very hour, more than 50 years since his passing into glory.  Through the business activity of the Quaker Oats Company, the various ministries of Moody Bible Institute and the generosity of Henry Parsons Crowell for the many works that he started through the Crowell Trust at the end of the turn of the century all continue having built on a solid foundation.
– Joseph M. Stowell, The President
Moody Bible Institute

Henry P Crowell was the most Christlike man I have ever met, bearing to the full that distinctive mark of the Christian — humility.  He exemplified and illustrated it in his daily life and his contact with men, the life about which so many of us talk, and some of us desire.  He loved men, whether or not he agreed with them.  He was keen of intellect, clear in memory and wise in judgment, even this far, in his 89th year. …..
… Believing in Christ as Savior at an early age, and then yielding his life to Christ, he found sustenance and joy in fellowship with Christ through His word and prayer.  The great questions that determined everything in his life were,
“Is this what He wants me to do?”
“Will it glorify Him?”
– Will Houghton, The President,
Moody Bible Institute
(Excerpt of service message of  funeral of Mr Crowell, 1943)


Source:  Joe Musser, The Cereal Tycoon, Moody Press, 1997, pg 36-39, 3, 157, 159.


Wikipedia – Crowell spent much of his life in business and philanthropy. For 40 years he was the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Moody Bible Institute. The Henry Parsons Crowell and Susan Coleman Crowell Trust carefully states that the purpose of their personal family Trust is to fund the teaching and active extension of the doctrines of evangelical Christianity.
Crowell donated over 70 percent of his wealth to the Crowell Trust


For me, this historical account clearly demonstrates the power of  … one man’s words … in one sentence … of one message … to greatly change the course … of another man’s life … with lasting impact  …on the lives of many others in history … from one man who walks the talk.

Inspiring words, thoughts … pearls of wisdom … are priceless !

Further Reading:


Henry Parsons Crowell – Quaker Oats Founder … Click here

Earlier post – Should I go full-time? Finding God’s will, … Click here

  Inspiring lives | Layman

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
June 18, 2015

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License





This entry was posted on June 18, 2015 by in Business, Daily Rice, Giving, Inspiring Lives, Life Stories, Marketplace, Ministry, Serving Quietly, Work and tagged .
%d bloggers like this: