On this day in 1902, Eric Liddell was born in Northern China to James Dunlop Liddell and his wife, who were Scottish missionaries with the London Missionary Society. For the first five years of his life, he lived with his parents in China. But at the age of six, he was sent to a boarding school in England with his older brother. During his time at school, Liddell excelled at two things: sports and loving Jesus! He had a great reputation on the field, becoming the captain of both the cricket and rugby team. He won multiple rewards for his skills. In fact, he was called the fastest man in Scotland. But despite all his popularity and success, he stilled clung tightly to his Lord. He joined a group of men with the Glasgow Students’ Evangelical Union who would travel around Scotland and preach to large groups of students. He was known as a man of integrity and as being “absolutely without vanity.”
The 1924 Olympics were held in Paris and Eric was entered to compete in the track events for the U.K. However, when the schedule came out, it was discovered that the event Eric was favored to win, the 100-meter race, was being held on a Sunday. Eric, based on his own personal convictions, refused to compete. Instead, he switched over to the 400-meter race and began to prepare for this event. Still, his practice runs were not very impressive and no one expected him to win. When it came time for his race, Eric went up to the staring line with the other contestants. As they lined up, a member of the American Olympic team slipped a piece of paper into his hand with a quotation from 1 Samuel 2:30: “Those who honor me I will honor.” During that race, Eric not only won a gold medal, but he also set a new world record. God truly did honor the man who honored him.
After he finished university in 1925, Eric Liddell decided to return to China, the place he was born. For nearly forty years, Eric worked among the Chinese people. It was his time serving in China that Eric viewed as his greatest accomplishment. When asked if he regretted leaving the popular sports world for missionary work, Eric replied, “It’s natural for a chap to think over all that sometimes, but I’m glad I’m at the work I’m engaged in now. A fellow’s life counts for far more at this than the other.” Even during the Japanese takeover of China during WWII, Eric stayed and continued to serve the chinese people until his death.
On this day in 1820, Johannes Rebmann, a pioneer missionary and explorer, was born on a small German farm. Even at an early age, Johannes wanted to be a preacher. But it wasn’t until he was a young man that he felt lead to open the way to work among the tribes of East Africa. In 1846, Johannes landed near modern day Kenya with a fellow missionary, Johann Ludwig Kraph. The men faced strong opposition from many angles. The tribal chiefs were untrusting of these strangers who wanted to teach their people new idea. The climate was difficult and disease was common. Plus, the men arrived at a time when Islamic influence was surging throughout the area. The missionaries realized that hard task they faced, and rose to the challenge. For thirty years, Johannes lived among the tribes of Eastern Africa, learning their languages, translating, and preaching to the the gospel. He married a fellow missionary, Ana Mari. Though the work was difficult and he faced many hardships, Johannes always clung to Christ to see him through his trials. His diary is a beautiful collection of a man who relied completely on Christ and loved his word. One journal entry, taken from the psalms, reads, “Restore to me joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
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