Ready for Impact
- May 17, 2022
This is the first of a three-part series on bestselling author Gary Chapman’s experiences as a student at Moody Bible Institute from 1955–58.
By Jeff Smith
The name Gary Chapman ’58 has become synonymous with relationships and specifically how to give and receive love. It’s no wonder. His landmark 1992 book The Five Love Languages®: The Secret to Love that Lasts resided on the New York Times bestseller list for a decade. It even spawned an entire Love Languages™ series that has sold nearly 20 million copies and been translated into 50 languages.
It’s been a whirlwind ride for the venerable long-time author, pastor, speaker, and radio host. But Dr. Chapman had no inkling what God had in store for him when he first arrived on Moody Bible Institute’s Chicago campus as a freshman in August 1955 after a 1,000-mile bus ride from Salisbury, North Carolina. His experience at Moody would radically change his perspective on the world around him.
New living arrangement
After setting foot at Moody for the first time, Dr. Chapman discovered that the boys’ dorms were filled. He was assigned to live two blocks from the Institute on the fifth floor of the Lawson YMCA, which Moody had leased as additional space for male students.
“I rolled my two suitcases down Chicago Avenue and looked up at the high-rise YMCA building,” he recalled. “Living with a roommate from Iowa, I did something I had never done—learned to share a room with someone. It was also at the YMCA that I learned to swim. I had never been to a swimming pool. Life was different in the ’50s in small-town North Carolina.”
Curriculum that expanded his heart and mind
Once Dr. Chapman’s classes started, he noticed that Moody’s curriculum was organized around vocational goals, with separate tracks for pastors, missionaries, music students, and youth pastors.
“Moody was a training school for students who felt led to pursue Christian ministry,” Dr. Chapman said. “I chose the pastors course. The next three years, my life was filled with courses designed to train us to be pastors. I studied Old Testament Survey and New Testament Survey. Then we had in-depth courses on individual books of the Bible. I studied Greek, hermeneutics, and homiletics. I had never heard of these words.”
Dr. Chapman’s walk with Christ and biblical and theological understanding flourished under Moody’s rich curriculum. “I was exposed to many things I had never heard of before,” he recalled. “It would be an understatement to say that my mind and heart were greatly expanded by my studies at Moody.”
‘We were all committed to Christ’
Coming from a rural region where the majority of people was Baptist, Dr. Chapman also benefited from meeting devoted believers from a wide array of other denominations.
“It was at Moody that I learned there were Christians who were not Baptists. Go ahead and laugh,” he said. “In my small town, we did have a Methodist and a Presbyterian church, and I had heard about Pentecostals, but in my mind the Baptists were the real Christians. At Moody, I met students who had labels I had never encountered.
“I realized that the Christian family is much larger than I ever imagined. What really surprised me was that we all seemed to be more similar than different. We were all committed to Christ. We all wanted to follow His plan for our lives.”
Developing a daily quiet time
Moody also taught Dr. Chapman how to develop a daily quiet time with God, a practice he has followed for 65 years.
“I learned to sit with my Bible and ask God to bring to my attention what I needed to hear from His Word,” he said. “I developed the pattern of reading through the Scriptures a chapter each day, listening to God and seeking to apply the Scriptures to my life. Nothing has impacted my life more than this daily time with God. I talk with God throughout the day, seeking His wisdom in whatever I am doing. But there is no substitute for my sit-down time with God each morning.”
Dr. Chapman’s quotes are excerpted from his book Life Lessons and Love Languages: What I’ve Learned on My Unexpected Journey.