From Ship to Scandinavian Shores
The Bethel Ship John Wesley was firmly moored and secured with strong chains to Pier 11 on the North River -- its sailing days over. But the words proclaimed from its pulpit traveled widely. Someone once said that the best way to send a message is to wrap it up in a person -- and the Bethel Ship message was wrapped up in people whose lives had been transformed. Westward their witness spread throughout the states, primarily to midwestern communities where these immigrants settled. It was also carried eastward across the Atlantic to Scandinavia, to inland towns and villages to which sailors and an occasional returning immigrant came to relate how their conversion had changed their lives and attitudes. In the process, incipient awakenings often stirred entire communities.
As reports of these awakenings filtered back to the Bethel Ship, generally through correspondence with Olof Hedstrom, they were shared with his coworkers. Reporting to the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Hedstrom said, "Several of our brethren, seamen, and others, have been moved by the good Spirit of God to go home to their native land and warn their friends to flee the wrath to come, and the Lord has blessed their labors."1 In a more extensive report, as the movement increased in intensity, Hedstrom wrote, "These are our epistles; sailors converted to God at the Bethel Ship, scattered over the seas and read and known of all men. . . . They go as Paul the tentmaker to carry the glad tidings of salvation in Christ. . . . May our Bethel Ship become the spiritual birthplace of a thousand souls."2