Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last. C.T. Studd
"Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly."
Time Magazine, December 23rd, 1940
(Vol. XXXVI No. 26), Article "German Martyrs"
I have a letter that Albert Einstein wrote to my father in 1943. In 1940, my father read a "Time Magazine" article that stated that Einstein was quoted as saying that the only social institution that stood up to Nazism was the Christian Church. My father is a Presbyterian minister in a little northern Michigan town called Harbor Springs. And he quoted Einstein in a sermon, and a member of the congregation wrote my father a letter saying, "Where did you get your information?" So my father wrote "Time Magazine", and "Time Magazine" wrote him back, and I have that letter, too, but they didn't give the source, so my father wrote Einstein and he wrote back, saying yes, he did say that the Christian Church was standing up to Hitler and Nazism.
"It's true that I made a statement "which corresponds approximately with the text you quoted. "I made this statement "during the first years of the Nazi regime-- "much earlier than 1940-- and my expressions were a little more moderate."
March 15th, 1943
Albert Einstein Letter Appraisal, Antiques Roadshow
Eric Liddell was a noted Scottish competitive runner, rugby player and Christian missionary who won the Gold medal at the 400-meter race and was the inspiration for the movie 'Chariots Of Fire'. He is also known as the 'Flying Scotsman' whose success over the 400m race in 1924 was legendary. The events surrounding him were made into a 1981 film called 'Chariots Of Fire' which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Eric Liddell became famous for refusing to run for the selection round of the 100m as it coincided with the holy day of Sabbath. Luckily, he got the opportunity to run for Britain in the 400m competition and even got a gold medal for it. He went back to China, where he was born, to continue with the missionary work his parents had taught him to do.
"Each one of us is in a greater race than any I have run in Paris, and this race ends when God gives out the medals."
Cornelia Arnolda Johanna ten Boom was born on April 15, 1892, in Haarlem, Netherlands, near Amsterdam. Known as "Corrie" all her life, she was the youngest child, with two sisters, Betsie and Nollie, and one brother, Willem. Their father, Casper, was a jeweler and watchmaker.
The ten Boom family lived in the Beje house in Haarlem (short for Barteljorisstraat, the street where the house was located) in rooms above Casper's watch shop. Family members were strict Calvinists in the Dutch Reformed Church. Faith inspired them to serve society, offering shelter, food and money to those in need. In this tradition, the family held a deep respect for the Jewish community in Amsterdam, considering them "God's ancient people."
After the death of her mother and a disappointing romance, Corrie trained to be a watchmaker and in 1922 became the first woman licensed as a watchmaker in Holland. Over the next decade, in addition to working in her father's shop, she established a youth club for teenage girls, which provided religious instruction as well as classes in the performing arts, sewing and handicrafts.
In May 1940, the German Blitzkrieg ran though the Netherlands and the other Low Countries. Within months, the "Nazification" of the Dutch people began and the quiet life of the ten Boom family was changed forever. During the war, the Beje house became a refuge for Jews, students and intellectuals. The façade of the watch shop made the house an ideal front for these activities. A secret room, no larger than a small wardrobe closet, was built into Corrie's bedroom behind a false wall. The space could hold up to six people, all of whom had to stand quiet and still. A crude ventilation system was installed to provide air for the occupants. When security sweeps came through the neighborhood, a buzzer in the house would signal danger, allowing the refugees a little over a minute to seek sanctuary in the hiding place.
The entire ten Boom family became active in the Dutch resistance, risking their lives harboring those hunted by the Gestapo. Some fugitives would stay only a few hours, while others would stay several days until another "safe house" could be located. Corrie ten Boom became a leader in the "Beje" movement, overseeing a network of "safe houses" in the country.
On February 28, 1944, a Dutch informant told the Nazis of the ten Booms' activities and the Gestapo raided the home. They kept the house under surveillance, and by the end of the day 35 people, including the entire ten Boom family, were arrested, Although German soldiers thoroughly searched the house, they didn't find the half-dozen Jews safely concealed in the hiding place. The six stayed in the cramped space for nearly three days before being rescued by the Dutch underground.
All ten Boom family members were incarcerated, including Corrie's 84-year-old father, who soon died in the Scheveningen prison, located near The Hague. Corrie and her sister Betsie were remanded to the notorious Ravensbrück concentration camp, near Berlin. Betsie died there on December 16, 1944. Twelve days later, Corrie was released for reasons not completely known. Corrie ten Boom and her family helped Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II and, by all accounts, saved nearly 800 lives.
"You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have."
Corrie ten Boom
William Wilberforce (1759-1833), abolitionist and philanthropist, was born to a family of merchants. He was first educated at Hull Grammar School under Joseph Milner, an evangelical Anglican minister. His father died when Wilberforce was nine, and his mother sent him to stay near London where he was reared by an evangelical aunt and uncle. Through their influence, he came to faith at the age of 12. In this home he came into contact with such men as George Whitefield, the great evangelist, and John Newton, who had converted from a life of a slave trade.
Hull was a port city, which means that young William saw with his own eyes the cruel institution of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. He knew the stench of the ships in port that traveled a three-legged journey carrying manufactured goods from England to Africa, slaves from Africa to the Americas, and raw goods back to England. When he was only 14 years old, William wrote a letter to the newspaper to complain about the atrocities of the Atlantic slave trade.
In the winter of 1784 he went on a long journey with a friend named Isaac Milner. Milner, a strong Christian, led William to study the Bible while they traveled together. William was attentive to his friend’s teachings, but not convinced of his need for Christ. That would change after William spent time with a minister in London known for speaking out against slavery, John Newton. Do you know who John Newton was? He was one of many who owned a slave ship and used it to traffic goods and slaves from one continent to the next. In coming to know Christ as his Savior, John Newton repented of his misdeeds and wrote one of the world’s most famous hymns, “Amazing Grace.” You probably know it. The words of that hymn are a powerful testimony of Newton’s life—dramatically changed by grace.
John Newton encouraged William Wilberforce not only to know Christ personally, but also to live for Him and fight against the slave trade in the British Empire. William took some time to ponder his calling. But on December 7, 1785, he committed his life to Christ and submitted his career to God’s will. Once he yielded to the idea of fighting the slave trade, William Wilberforce (who was hardly more than five feet tall and less than a 100 pounds) was unstoppable, unwavering, and nearly unbearable to be around. His mission consumed him. William’s inroad of influence on the matter of the slave trade was his position in the British Parliament.
You see, starting in 1780, he held a seat in Parliament until 1825 (that’s 45 years!). Known for his eloquence, William was approached by a group of abolitionists and Quakers to draft several bills in Parliament to change the British laws that allowed for slavery. William obliged wholeheartedly, but unfortunately, the first several bills went nowhere. In 1789, he gave a strong speech to the House of Commons. In it, he said: “Never, never, will we desist till we have wiped away this scandal from the Christian name, released ourselves from the load of guilt, and extinguished every trace of this bloody traffic.”
Coincidentally, William was great friends with William Pitt the Younger, who became the prime minister of England. Pitt supported his friend in the fight against slavery, but the personal connection didn’t help Wilberforce as much as he hoped. The opposition in favor of keeping slavery alive was stronger than expected. Proposed bills and flowing speeches were not enough to break up the moneymaking industry of slavery.
Fortunately, William Wilberforce was not alone in his convictions. He had a group of highly influential Christian friends who gathered together regularly for prayer and fellowship. This group of men, nicknamed the Clapham Sect for the town where they met, was one of the most unique brotherhoods in English history. These men examined the ills of English society and banded together to right the wrongs of mankind. They started charities, missions, programs, and Bible societies to care for the poor and imprisoned. But always on top of their list was the hope of abolishing the slave trade where it still existed in the British Empire. So, year after year, William Wilberforce fought. His friends in the Clapham Sect helped him along the way and fueled his inspiration. They realized that the key to their success would be to change public opinion toward slavery. To make known the horrors of the slave trade, they carried out a mass campaign of literature distribution and created graphic billboards. Petitions were gathered, tours of slave ships were arranged, and the public gradually became aware of what was really happening to the African people captured across the sea.
After 20 years of relentless work, the final break for Wilberforce came in the winter of 1807 when his team sneaked a bill into session that focused on stopping British ships from providing French colonies with slaves. (As usual, the British and the French were not getting along at this time, and so the British didn’t want to help the French in any way.) Indirectly, the bill put restrictions on all slave ships and this brought the slave trade to a screaming halt in the British Empire! The Parliament quickly realized it had been duped, but it nevertheless voted to pass the bill, titled “Abolition of the Slave Trade Act.” This happened on February 23, 1807. In a room filled with strong emotion, William Wilberforce, sitting at his place in Parliament, bent forward with his head in his hands and cried.
William’s success motivated him to tackle other issues that plagued England. Before he died, this small-framed man with a big heart served in more than 60 societies dedicated to improving the morals and manners of the English. But in the forefront of all this, William Wilberforce was concerned for those who were still trapped in slavery. You see, he had successfully passed a bill in Parliament that stopped ships from trading slaves from Africa, but that bill did nothing to protect the people who were already caught up in slavery in England and the British West Indies.
So William Wilberforce continued to fight injustice! With fellow abolitionists, he founded the African Institution to try to heal the wounds inflicted on Africans. He created settlements for slaves who were set free. And he tried to sway other nations into abolishing slavery in their countries. Radicals in the Parliament gave Wilberforce little credit for his efforts. They believed the emancipation of slaves would ruin the job market for poor workers at home. It was a war between ethics and greed.
In 1825, William Wilberforce retired from Parliament to spend more time with his wife of 28 years and their six children. Do you think retirement stopped him from campaigning against slavery? The answer is, no. It didn’t. William recruited a younger member of Parliament to keep up his work. Now, here’s the best part of the story: On July 26, 1833, just a few days before William Wilberforce died, he was told that Parliament passed the Emancipation Act—freeing all the slaves of the British Empire! William, on his deathbed, knew his fight had not been in vain. He died with the peace of having accomplished his life’s mission. What a beautiful ending to a life dedicated to others.
by Linda Lacour Hobar | Jul 28, 2021
George Whitefield was a preacher that came to America from England, and began to tour the American colonies. He quickly became popular among the masses for his charismatic personality and passionate sermons. Whitefield’s preaching style was relatively new to the colonists. In typical sermons, preachers would just drone on in almost a monotone way while they read passages from the Bible and recite prayers. However, George Whitefield would let his emotions shine through as he spoke, passionately yelling while he preached. Hearing about this new and interesting preacher and his new preaching style, thousands of colonists flocked from all over to hear him speak to the masses. So, affected by Whitefield’s preaching, the people would unleash “their emotions to make an immediate, intense, and personal connection with the divine”.
One of George Whitefield’s most impactful sermons was in Boston at the Boston Commons. This particular sermon was so crowded, not everyone could get close enough to hear him. This resulted in pushing and crowding so severe that a few colonists even died during his congregation because of the “sheer madness” and desperation of the people who wanted to hear him speak. This particular sermon was important, because it gives us a glimpse into the madness that tended to come with Whitefield’s sermons.
People were so passionate about Whitefield’s sermon and the message that he was preaching, that they were willing to put others’ lives at risk just to hear him speak. Another significant sermon of Whitefield’s was in Dublin, Ireland. Whitefield preached to thousands and thousands of people in a field, and said the congregation was so large it was “comparable to London,” which was the location of one of his largest congregations. This particular sermon highlights the fact that Whitefield’s popularity was growing globally and not only in the colonies. The significance of Whitefield’s sermons as a whole proves the point that the Great Awakening was driven by the curiosity of the people and their interest in a religious revival. The Great Awakening taught the people that if their churches were not living up to their expectations, they could leave and form new ones where they could teach their own beliefs. The madness surrounding George Whitefield’s sermons shows just how much the Great Awakening had impacted the people’s religious views.
In the 1970's I attended Hugh Mercer Elementary School in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Principal at the time was a big guy named Gary Foss and everyone called him Mr. Foss. One my way back and forth to class kids had to pass by Mr. Foss's office window facing the inside of the hallway. A few times a week you could walk by his office and hear a kid screaming while Mr. Foss was delivering the spanking. Everyone was afraid of Mr. Foss and the rumors spread around the school about the size of his paddle. One day I was walking buy and a kid was coming out of his office rubbing his butt and crying like an infant. As the school year progressed less and less beatings occurred. No one wanted to feel the wrath of Mr. Foss's enlarged paddle.
Every day we would take a break for lunch. My mom typically packed my lunch, but it never included Milk or desert. In the 1970's they made metal lunchboxes and I had a Disney one with Micky Mouse on the front. Students had to wait in the line to purchase milk and ice cream from the milk lady, Mrs. Traygo. Everyday I would buy my milk and ice cream sandwich and sit down with my friend Andre to eat. Andre was a the biggest guy in the school and was extremely shy like me. So the two shy guys sat together. Apparently, Mrs. Traygo decided that she was going to target me for harassment that school year. What she would do is watch me eat my sandwich until every piece was gone. She made sure that I took a sip of milk each time I took a bite of my sandwich and swallowed. I was probably 7 years old at the time and I respected older people because they were suppose to be adults. I came to the realization pretty quickly that this lady was completely nuts!!! If I didn't follow her rules on sipping the milk after every bite of my sandwich she would walk over to our table an make a scene in front of everyone in the cafeteria. And all the other kids would laugh at me. Within a month my name officially changed from Michael to Traygo at school because of her actions. When I walked to class kid would yell out Traygo, Traygo, Traygo. That name stuck with me until I graduated from High School. I was extremely shy so becoming the center of attention was an absolute nightmare. Andre would help to remind me to sip my milk after each bite because sometime I would forget. I remember Andrea saying that he was so glad that it was me and not him that she was picking on. After a few months of this crap I finally had enough. Every kid knows his limitations.
One day I decided that she was no longer going to control my food consumption process. I started eating my sandwich without milk. Andrea said here she comes...She walked over to our table with a milk and began bullying me. I told her to leave me alone multiple times, but she wouldn't and stood there in he middle of the cafeteria until I drank the milk. I refused to and she walk over next to me to force the milk into my mouth. The kids started chanting Traygo, Traygo, Traygo. When she reached to grab my mouth again, I took my Mickey Mouse lunchbox and cracked her over the head as hard as I could. The cafeteria room became completely silent. I have to tell you I was a little shocked at my actions. I didn't know I had it in me. I remember looking at Andre and his eyes we wide open. Blood stared gushing out of Mrs. Traygo's head onto the floor.
The bloody wound didn't stop her from dragging me to the principals office. I remember looking over my shoulder in the hall seeing that long trail of blood. Somehow it made me happy even though I knew Mr. Foss was going to punish me and possibly expel me from school for my actions.
Once we got to the principles office, Mrs. Traygo went in his office cleaning her wound while I waited outside. I guess she made up some story about the incident to him. She finally came out and Mr. Foss told me to come into his office alone. He said, have a seat on the couch and tell me exactly what happened. I laid out my story and he told me that he believed me. He said, "well Mike you've never been in trouble before and you seem like a pretty good kid". Little did he know that at home I was just the opposite. No adult had ever spoken to me like an adult before and took my side. At this point I still didn't know if I was going to get punished or not. He then told me that there had me other instances with Mrs. Traygo but none of them led to assault. He then walked over to his closet and took out this enormous paddle. I thought to myself that this spanking was going to hurt if not kill me. The he then told me that we were going to make it look like I had been spanked. Really? Was this really going to happen. He told me that Mrs. Traygo was outside the office waiting to hear me get punished so we had to do a good acting job. He made me promise I would never tell anyone too or he would get in trouble. In the 1970's all the couches were mad of plastic so they made a lot of noise when struck. Mr Foss said every time I hit the couch scream as loud as you can. I agreed immediately. He struck the couch a least ten time as I screamed. After our acting was over he told me to go to the sink in his office, put water on my face and rub my eyes to make it look as if I was crying. I could not believe this was happening. As we left his office I had to stop and apologize to Mrs. Tarygo.
She left and I had to wait for my mother to come get me. This was not good. Actually, facing my mom and potentially my dad's belt was worse. I was expelled from school for 3 days. I guess Mr. Foss had to make it look real. When my mom showed up at the school to get me, she was furious. Just wait until we get home and your father finds out. You have to understand that at home I was a nightmare so she assumed this behavior translated to school as well. To give you an idea, I was so bad at home that my parents would send me to my grandmothers every summer so they could get a break. I told my mom the story and I believe Mr. Foss said it was OK to have her call him. Thank God because my dad spankings with the thin belt were more damaging than any paddle.
As my education progressed so did Mr. Foss's career. He became principle of Walker Grant Middle School. Apparently, Mr. Foss enjoyed the sport of skiing. On weekends during the winter he would get one of the school buses and organize trips to the mountains for us kids to go skiing. This was back in the 1980's when society wasn't so uptight with rules and regulations. On weekends we would meetup at the Ski Shop in town, load up the bus and head to the ski resort. Mr. Foss was not only a great principal he also enjoyed putting us kids first. I didn't realize until letter in life that these moments really matter. I still ski today and if it wasn't for Mr. Foss making the effort i may have never the sport.
It wasn't until I wrote this story that I learned of Mr. Foss's passing. Apparently, he had many other accomplishments in life where his faith was made prominent. He was founder of Fredericksburg Christian School (FCS) which opened it's doors August of 1979. He and his wife began with thirty students and four teachers. Gary served multiple roles as principal, custodian, bus driver, playground supervisor, and secretary. One day I will see Gary in Heaven and will thank him for believing me that day and of course for the ski trips!