On this day in 1923, Eric Liddell spoke for the first time publicly of his faith in Christ.

As Eric Liddell grew in fame and popularity as a famous athlete, all of Scotland wanted to see and meet this young man.  But a young Scottish evangelist named D. P. Thomson looked past the skilled athlete and saw in Eric a very promising prospect for the ministry. So he invited Eric to share his testimony with a group of men in the small town hall of Armadale, Scotland.

About eighty men packed into the small meeting room to hear the famed athlete speak:

“Shyly, he stepped forward and for a few seconds surveyed his waiting audience, then he began.  There was no lecturing, no fist thumping…no raised voice to impress on them what he thought they should be doing….He spoke of the strength he felt within himself from the sure knowledge of God’s love and support. Of how he never questioned anything that happened either to himself or to others. He didn’t need explanations from God. He simply believed in Him and accepted whatever came.”

Eric spoke with such zeal and enthusiasm about Christ and what he had done for him that people all over England began to speak of the faith of Eric Liddell.  Soon, people began to say, “If that boy runs with the same zeal he preaches with, he is sure to be a champion.”  Eric proved them right, winning a gold medal in the Paris Olympics.

But at this point, Eric was faced with a decision.  Where would he allow his zeal and energy to be focused?  As a small boy, he had been introduced to sports and had fallen in love with them.  But as a young boy, he had  also been introduced to a man named Jesus, who he had also fallen in love with.  And Thompson had already set him up as a traveling preacher.  Finally, Eric decided to give his zeal to God.  A year after winning his gold medal, he was headed to China to serve as a missionary.  That public meeting was simply the first step in a long and fruitful ministry.

When D. P. Thomson looked at the young athlete, he saw the potential of a life given to God.  When you look at the people around you, do you see their mistakes and failures?  Or do you see a life God can truly use?

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For all nations

On this day 1526, Balthazar Hubmeyer, the man who was fundamental in the the baptist movement among the people of Switzerland and Austria, was forced to stand before a large crowd and recant his beliefs in Christ and the Bible.

As a young man, Balthazar served in the local Roman Catholic cathedral as one of the preachers.  But while he was serving here, the teachings of the reformation began to sweep in and Balthazar gladly accepted them.  He soon joined Zwingli in Zurich and worked closely with him as they slowly began to teach the people the truths of God’s word.

As Balthazar studied the Bible deeper, he began to realize that the reformation had not gone all the way back to the Biblical teachings, especially in regards to baptism.  He approached his dear friend Zwingli, who completely rejected what he said.  Balthazar responded by taking his message to the people.  Soon, hundreds were following the teachings of Balthazar and were being baptized by him.  Many of the members of his old congregation joined in the number of new converts.

The stir caused by Balthazar and his teaching caused such a commotion that Zwingli and the Zurich authorities had Balthazar arrested.  For four months, Balthazar was tortured, humiliated, beaten, and reasoned with: all with the goal of getting him to recant.  But he steadfastly refused.  He was placed on a large rack and  stretched out every single day.  Zwingli would often come and try to convince him to recant.  Finally, the pressure was to great and Balthazar agreed to publicly recant his views of the Bible.  The date for the recanting was set for April 6th.

The people of the city were summoned to the great cathedral, which was crowded, to hear his recantation and the death-knell of the Baptists. Zwingli preached a great sermon on ‘Christian steadfastness,’  and loud and long he declaimed against these heretics; then Hubmeyer was to mount the pulpit and renounce his firm faith.  He began to read his recantation in a broken, weak and quivering voice, until his heart choked his utterance and he broke down. As he swayed to and fro before his audience like a bruised reed shaken by the wind,  the unseen hand of God was suddenly put forth to bind him up and raise him to his full height.  With a loud and powerful voice, he shouted ‘Infant baptism is not of God, and men must be baptized by faith in Christ!’

Horrified at this unexpected change in their plan, the men of Zurich had Balthazar rushed back to the dungeon.  Once back in his cell, he wrote these beautiful words:

‘O, immortal God, this is my faith. I confess it with heart and mouth, and have testified it publicly before the Church in baptism. I faithfully pray thee graciously keep me in it until my end, and should I be forced from it out of mortal fear and timidity, by tyranny, torture, sword, fire or water, I now appeal to thee. O, my compassionate Father, raise me up again by the grace of thy Holy Spirit, and suffer me not to depart without this faith. This, I pray thee from the bottom of my heart, through Jesus Christ, thy most beloved Son, our Lord and Saviour. Father, in thee do I put my Trust, let me never be ashamed.’

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