Changed Lives Through Christ - Blog        
   This Week...                   FROM A SHRIMP TO A WHALE                        7/16/18
The Story Of William Wilberforce

         Slavery has been practiced throughout the centuries, and was once even supported by the church. How can that be, you ask? We need to define slavery to understand what is meant here.
         Slaves in ancient times were not taken against their will. People sold themselves as slaves in order to pay debts. Once those debts were fulfilled, slaves were free to go. But many stayed on as “bond-slaves” because it was preferable; it improved their economic situation. Times were hard back then, and often, people couldn’t make a living on their own. Being a slave offered security and protection. The Bible acknowledges the use of slavery but outlines fair practices for slave owners.
         In the 1800s, especially in America, slaves were greatly abused. They were treated as property; they were without rights; their living conditions were inhumane; they were over-worked, starved, and terribly mistreated. Such was also the case in the British Empire.
         Martin Luther King Jr. fought for racial equality in this country back in the 60s. His work achieved great milestones and we are grateful. Similarly, William Wilberforce of Great Britain was an activist in his day. He fought for the abolition of slavery in the 1800s. At the age of twenty-one and while still a student, Wilberforce was elected as a Member of Parliament. During that time the British were taking goods to Africa and taking part in the slave trade. It was then that Wilberforce began to campaign against it. So, why had this become such a hot-burning issue for Wilberforce?
         Growing up in East Yorkshire, England, William was an only child. His health was poor and his eyesight was quite bad causing him to struggle in school. His father died when William was nine. His mother couldn’t cope and sent him to live with a rich aunt and uncle whom he became extremely fond of. His aunt influenced him in the Christian faith which led William to become interested in evangelism. But when his uncle and grandfather passed, leaving him a massive fortune, he took on a lifestyle of gambling and late-night drinking parties.

         Wilberforce managed to press through the distractions of life. He studied hard and earned a Bachelors and a Masters degree. He also became interested in politics and thus worked in the government. That’s where he was learned about the atrocities of the slave trade which drew him back to the spiritual principles his aunt Hannah had taught him years ago.
         He began rising early to read the Bible and pray and underwent an evangelical conversion which changed his life. Because religious enthusiasm was generally looked down upon in polite society, it led him to question whether he should quit or remain in public life.
         John Newton, a leading evangelical clergyman of the day had befriended Wilborforce as did Prime Minister William Pitt. Both Newton and Pitt counseled Wilberforce to remain in the Parliament, and he agreed to do so "with increased diligence and conscientiousness".

         Wilberforce’s political views were deeply conservative based on his faith in God. He opposed radical societal changes and focused on issues like observance of the Sabbath and the eradication of immorality through education and reform. And he strongly opposed the reprehensible slave practices of the day.

This edition of the classic book from 1797, Real Christianity,
is paraphrased in modern language and made more accessible
to contemporary readers. This is the book that helped abolish the slave trade
in the United Kingdom and called Christians to live a more authentic
life of faith more than two hundred years ago. The timeless truths it contains
will speak to readers in fresh ways today.
Readers will also find the book is a good litmus test
of the authenticity of their own faith.

Available at:

       James Boswell, a well know author witnessed Wilberforce's eloquence in the House of Commons and noted, “I saw what seemed a mere shrimp stand at the table; but as I listened, he grew, and he grew, and he grew until the shrimp became a whale.”
       His impact was enormous and one month after the death of William Wilberforce, the House of Lords passed the Slavery Abolition Act, which abolished slavery in the British Empire. Even though he never saw this victory for himself, his fight was not in vane. He won the war!
       Dear friend, if you are in battle this day, remember: never give up. Never, ever give up! Righteousness and goodness will always win!!


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