Legacy of Grace: I am a Daughter of Susanna Wesley

Legacy of Grace: I am a Daughter of Susanna Wesley

Susanna Wesley was a warrior of the faith. She left behind a legacy of grace that many have had the opportunity to follow.

When I was a senior in high school, I embarked upon a self-induced journey to examine the myriad of doctrines that existed within the realm of Christianity. I visited approximately 30 different churches and was baffled at the variety of liturgical practices that were performed within each ecclesiastical community. What is the connection between belief and practice in the trajectory of theological discernment? Why are there so many different interpretations of Scripture? How do we know what is true?

My young mind entertained all of these questions, but with little formal theological training, I was unable to provide a biblically grounded answer. Therefore, at age seventeen, I began to read books and study the history and legacy of my particular church—the Church of the Nazarene.

I am a Nazarene by heritage. I decided to seek ordination in this denomination because it is a tradition that emphasizes the authority of Scripture and the power of the Spirit, it is doctrinally sound, theologically coherent, and relevant for today’s world.

In an age of pluralism, skepticism, and syncretism, defining our identity is not a popular idea. However, understanding our legacy and applying it will prove to be a necessary task as we navigate through the turbulent waters of a rapidly changing world. Paul exhorted Timothy with these words: “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (I Tim. 4:16, NLT).
Learning from Susanna

Susanna Wesley learned and applied this truth early in her life.

Although she never delivered a sermon nor wrote a book, she raised two sons that became world changers for Christ. Her secret was simple but certainly far from easy in the patriarchal environment in which she lived. Her secret, simply put, was resolve.

She had resolve to keep going despite the many hardships that came her way; resolve to keep loving, giving, and investing in the face of despair; and resolve to keep seeking the Lord above anything else in this world. So, in that sense, I am a daughter of Susanna, and my approach to life and to ministry have come to resemble hers. I am indebted to the investment of many leaders who have also walked in her footsteps and believed in me. For their influence on my life, even if unbeknownst to them, I will be forever grateful.

Life of Prayer and Dependence on God

Susanna Wesley certainly fit the modern term “prayer warrior.” Her biographies describe her reliance on prayer as one of her key attributes as a Christian.1 Similarly, prayer has been my bedrock since college days. Early on in life as an international student at Olivet Nazarene University, dependence upon the Lord became my fiercest declaration. I had flown all the way from Brazil with one suitcase to make the United States my “temporary” home, only to have all my belongings get lost by the airline and never found. Needless to say, God was always faithful to provide for my needs.

One year in college I received a gift of $100 (USD) for my birthday, but I sensed God wanted me to give it to a recent graduate who had gone to minister and serve in the inner city. I argued with God momentarily, reminding Him it was my first deposit towards my ticket back home that year. He told me to give it anyway, so I did. Later that month, the same person who had given me $100 called to say he wanted to purchase my plane ticket to go home as well as my sister's. I was overjoyed.

Prayer and obedience, more often than not, allow us to enjoy the fruit of our faith.

Perseverance in Trouble

Susanna Wesley was a woman well acquainted with suffering. She experienced illness, the death of nine children, financial trouble, and two separate home fires. Although I have been greatly blessed with many wonderful opportunities, life has also thrown many curve balls my way.

Not long after graduation from college, my sister was diagnosed with a serious mental illness. For twelve years she has faced an arduous battle, but I know God will set her free one day. A few years ago, I endured a very difficult personal battle with anxiety and depression as fear sought to grip me and disturb the hurting places of my heart, but Jesus extended His healing grace to me and set me free. Then, as I was beginning to enjoy a new freedom, my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer. Once again, I am faced with a similar choice. Will I let fear or faith reign in the unseen corners of my mind? I choose to embrace faith every day, for I know nothing is impossible for those who believe, and certainly nothing is impossible for God.

Grace-Filled Life

Not long ago, I was praying and worshipping late into the night, and I felt drawn by the Spirit in a special way. I quickly became aware of His presence and heard His voice. He said to me, “Look into my eyes—what do you see?” Even when I could not see Him, I responded out loud: “I see love.” He proceeded to inquire further, “What else do you see?” As I stared into the space, I simply answered “grace.” When I said grace, His Spirit came upon me, filling me to the brim, and I began to weep. I could not stop weeping at the thought that everything I was and everything I had been given was nothing but the result of His grace. Salvation is a gift of His grace. Healing is a gift of His grace. Reconciliation is a gift of His grace. Life itself is a gift of His grace!

Even when I minister as the prayer pastor at our local church, serve as an educator in academia, and take care of my beautiful family at home, my deepest calling can be reduced to a simple Scriptural principle: “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8, NLT). To that task I shall commit myself for His name sake until He calls me to my eternal home.   

Simone Mulieri Twibell is a Ph.D. Candidate and assistant professor of Intercultural Studies at Olivet Nazarene University.

[1] See for example Susanna Wesley: Her Remarkable Life, by Ray Comfort and Trisha Ramos.