An Oyster Man

A story is told, probably apocryphal, that in the days of John Wesley, when some of the Local Preachers had had limited education one such man conducted the church service.

He used Luke 19:21 as his text: “Lord, I feared Thee, because Thou art an austere man” (KJV). Not knowing the word austere, he thought the text spoke of “an oyster man”.

He explained how a diver must grope in dark, freezing water to retrieve oysters. In his attempt, he cuts his hands on the sharp edges of the shells. After he obtains an oyster, he rises to the surface, clutching it “in his torn and bleeding hands”. The preacher added, “Christ descended from the glory of heaven into . . . sinful human society, in order to retrieve humans and bring them back up with Him to the glory of heaven. His torn and bleeding hands are a sign of the value He has placed on the object of His quest”.

Afterward, 12 men received Christ.

Later that night someone came to Wesley to complain about unschooled preachers who were too ignorant even to know the meaning of the texts they were preaching on. The Oxford-educated Wesley simply said, “Never mind. The Lord got a dozen oysters tonight”.


Although our best may not always measure up to the standards of others, God can and frequently does take our inadequacies and humble efforts and uses them for His glory.

However, if the story is true, I have no doubt that Mr Wesley would have encouraged the man to read widely (as he did all his preachers) and have a dictionary as well as a bible to hand.

Faith and a measure of passion are essential to effective preaching.

What do you think?

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