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Indeed He’s amazing

15 September 2007

She is a cancer patient; he was an eloquent politician who changed the world. She battles illness, fears, growing sickness and emotional pain of seeing her loved ones affected by her condition, while he fought against the opposition, made up speeches and strategies to abolish what was then the prevailing inhumane system of slave trade. She physically looks frail and very ill but her strength is double than mine. He was continuously discouraged by people and politics, and by the disapproval of the bill he passed, but those did not stop him to pursue justice and his lifetime crusade to free the African slaves.

She was Sister Jane. He was William Wilberforce. Both I have known yesterday and both created an impact in my life and in my faith.

Sister Jane is my church mate in FCCD (Filipino Christian Church of Dubai) and I already saw her before but was not given the chance to talk to her lengthily as she belongs to another cell group and ministry. Never did I took notice that she’s quite thinner than among other women in our church. Her attendance dwindled and the church pastors often ask prayers for a certain ‘sister Jane’. I did not know he is mentioning this jolly-eyed woman not until yesterday that sister Jane was requested to give a brief testimony for the Light Bearer’s Ministry’s afternoon fellowship. It was indeed brief, but every word struck me to my inner senses, every single detail astonishing, and each emphasis powerful. This woman has gone life’s adversities, and is going through it everyday.

She went through an operation for her ovarian cancer and at the same time her family suffered a great deal of financial problem due to the cost of the operation. There’s the possibility that she’ll loss her job too. Albeit all these circumstances she voiced praises to the God who provided her the strength to go to church and testify before us that death has not scared her a bit and her life and strength is with God and most importantly, God is alive and in control. This kind of faith always swept me off my feet and makes me shed understanding tears of praises to a living God.

The second greatest person I was so blessed to get acquainted with was Mr. Wilber.
William Wilberforce (played with justice by Ioan Gruffudd) was a man of big heart, of faith so enormous and meaningful I feel as though I’ve been introduce to Christian faith the very first time. He gave faith a face I haven’t known before.

His life is filmed in a movie entitled “Amazing Grace”. Yes, it’s the popular hymn originally written by John Newton, Wilberforce’s, I conclude favorite, preacher. Later on, one more stanza was added to it in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Addition to the lyrics was penned by John Rees.

The movie Amazing Grace centers on the life and anti-slavery campaigns of Wilberforce. He was indeed a talented public speaker of the House of Commons and one of the MP’s (Members of the Parliament). Together with his lifetime friend, William Pitt ‘the younger’ (Benedict Cumberbatch) who also happened to be the Prime Minister of Great Britain, the youngest one ever, and the other co-antislavery trade such as Oloudaqh Equiano(Youssou N’Dour) a slave before himself, Thomas Clarkson (Rufus Sewell, “A Knight’s Tale”), and Lord Charles Fox (Michael Gambon, Harry Potter’s Dumbledore), they changed the history of Great Britain towards people’s to enslave mindset.

Their victories haven’t come off so easy. They have to struggle and contend against many issues like those ship owners and other Members of the Parliament who were not so convinced on putting halt to slavery thus the bill Abolition of Slave Trade had not gathered so much sympathy. Praise God these guys were so creative I think marketing strategy’s notion wasn’t so popular until their strategies we’re implemented to the public and to the other MP’s. They planned and stood steadfast on the sole purpose of their committee: to stop slave trade.

“In April 1791, Wilberforce introduced the first Parliamentary Bill to abolish the slave trade, which was easily defeated by 163 votes to 88. As Wilberforce continued to bring the issue of the slave trade before Parliament, Clarkson continued to travel and write. Between them, Clarkson and Wilberforce were responsible for generating and sustaining a national movement which mobilised public opinion as never before.” (Wikipedia)

Everyone experiences at a certain point of his life when he/she was so down. Everything. Emotionally, physically, and morally. Everything seems to be in the verge of dying and one typically wallows in the hopelessness of the situation. This most of all happens when the one greatest motivation of your life seems to become a failure. Wilber was not an exception though. Famous and rich he was but his campaign was not winning and one of the members of the committee died. Everything seems to be falling in wrong places. His health deteriorated. His songs were lost to the abyss of ruination.

But what can be impossible to human terms can be possible to a living God! As one of the original lyrics of the song Amazing Grace says:

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

With this kind of faith Wilber still possesses and his long talk overnight with beautiful wife to be- Barbara- a believer of his cause, a grand twist of events took place. Wilber saw the light of hope once again and his strength was renewed by fresh events God is unfolding in his life.

Attempts to abolish the bill continued until its declaration roared a mighty approval from the Speaker of the House. Certainly, after years and years of the seemingly life-long saga, slavery in Britain was finished.

When people speak of great men, they think of men like Napoleon – men of violence. Rarely do they think of peaceful men. But contrast the reception they will receive when they return home from their battles. Napoleon will arrive in pomp and in power, a man who’s achieved the very summit of earthly ambition. And yet his dreams will be haunted by the oppressions of war. William Wilberforce, however, will return to his family, lay his head on his pillow and remembers: the slave trade is no more.

—- Lord Charles Fox in Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!

Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis’d good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

John New­ton, Ol­ney Hymns (Lon­don: W. Ol­i­ver, 1779)

Written by John Newton – a ship captain of a transatlantic slave trade turn preacher…

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