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JANUARY – MARCH 2013

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JANUARY – MARCH 2013 Issue 13 £3.50 $6.00 €5.00

heroes of the

faith

• Wilberforce for good The man who took on the colossal evil of the slave trade

• Susanna Wesley

A challenging marriage couldn’t stop this Mother of Methodism

• Fishing for men

How Jock Troup led revivals in Scotland’s fishing ports

• Oral Roberts

Six keys to receiving healing MY HERO

• Leonard Ravenhill

‘A man whose life and ministry both inspires and disturbs me’ PLUS • Church planter Douglas Scott • Evangelist Smith Wigglesworth

inspiring insights from men & women who proved God


JANUARY – MARCH 2013

WELCOME

T

he human voice is an incredible instrument which can produce sounds in a frequency range from about 60 to 7,000 Hz. The vocal folds, in combination with the articulators, are capable of producing highly intricate arrays of sound. We can modulate our tone to suggest feelings such as anger, surprise, happiness and sorrow. The voice can also be used to affect the thoughts, emotions and even the actions of other people. Great speeches such as Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ address changed the history of a nation. One speech which is less well known set off a catalyst of events which eventually led to the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire. It was made in May 1789 by William Wilberforce. Possessing formidable powers of eloquence – for which he was known as the ‘Nightingale of the House of Commons’ – Wilberforce spoke for no less than three-and-a-half hours on a subject which was to occupy him for the rest of his life. He was undoubtedly one of the greatest and most influential parliamentarians there has ever been and we are proud to present his story in this edition of Heroes of the Faith. In his wisdom, God has ordained the human voice to proclaim the most glorious news this world has ever known – the gospel of Jesus Christ. One man who used his voice to great effect in that regard was the burly Scottish evangelist, Jock Troup. It is reckoned that Troup possessed a voice loud enough to drown out passing traffic in an open-air meeting! More importantly, his untutored preaching brought a remarkable revival among fishermen. Preaching in a foreign language is a difficult art, one which an Englishman called Douglas Scott perhaps never quite mastered. To his contemporaries, his French accent was somewhat tough to understand. However, God used him mightily in a truly apostolic ministry both in France and also in the (then) Belgian Congo, planting hundreds of churches with miraculous signs and wonders following. Susanna Wesley was not a public speaker but when she saw her husband, Samuel, failing in his duties as a minister, she gathered the people of Epworth, Lincolnshire, together in her kitchen and read the Word of God to them. As a mother, she also raised their children in the faith, including John and Charles, who used their considerable talents to help bring revival to Britain. We pray these stories will inspire you to use your own voice in the service of God. David Littlewood, Editor

Consulting Editors

Dave Allen, former lecturer and Dean of Mattersey Hall College; Mathew Clark, Director of Postgraduate Studies at Regents Theological College; Dave Garrard, a missionary for 23 years in Zaire; William Kay, Professor of Theology at Glyndwr University; RT Kendall, long time minister at Westminster Chapel; Barry Killick, an Elim Minister for over 30 years; John Lancaster, who lectured on systematic theology for 25 years at Elim’s Bible College; Steve Uppal, an AoG minister who leads All Nations Christian Centre in Wolverhampton.

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In an age where most people thought slavery to be an economic necessity, a group of Christians led by parliamentarian William Wilberforce campaigned tirelessly to bring this colossal evil to an end. Heroes of the Faith looks at Wilberforce’s life and the challenge it gives us today

I

n disgusting conditions, the stench of death hung in the air as the ships crossed the ocean to the Americas. Chained and crammed into cramped space, human slaves suffered the horror of watching others dying around them – knowing they could be next to lose their life before reaching their destination. Those who remained alive would make a healthy profit for their captors, being sold as chattels for the slave masters of the plantations of the Deep South or the West Indies. Contemporary accounts tell how the vast majority of such men and women lived the most miserable of lives. Appalling conditions, back-breaking labour and harsh punishments for insubordination were the norm. The walls of the castle at Cape Coast, Ghana, hide the shameful legacy of one of the darkest periods in human history. This forbidding place was at one time one of the centres of the slave trade in Africa. Africans who had been kidnapped from their homes, or sold by their fellow tribesmen or relatives, were held here in unspeakable conditions before being brought from the grim dungeons to board ships bound for the Americas. The man best known for leading the fight against slavery, William Wilberforce, was born in Hull in 1759. William’s father, a wealthy merchant, died when he was young and for a time he was brought up by an uncle and aunt. His aunt was a strong supporter of John Wesley and the Methodist movement, and it was she who introduced the lad to John Newton. Newton was doubtless one of the most romantic figures in the 18th-century evangelical revival. A former slave-trader himself, as a young man he had been an atheist, free-thinker, lecher and inveterate blasphemer before experiencing a remarkable conversion to Christianity while piloting a slave ship through a heavy storm. Now a noted gospel preacher and hymnwriter, Newton thrilled the young Wilberforce with stories of his adventures. William’s mother, however, became alarmed by the thought of her son turning into a ‘little Methodist’ and brought him back to the family home. At the age of 17, Wilberforce went to study at St John’s College, Cambridge. Although shocked by the behaviour of some of his fellow students – ‘as licentious

a set of men as can well be conceived’ – he nevertheless formed a friendship with William Pitt, who was later to become Britain’s youngest ever Prime Minister. Desiring a career in politics, Wilberforce stood as a candidate in the forthcoming parliamentary election and was elected as member for Hull at the tender age of 20. In the House of Commons he supported the Tory government led by his friend, Pitt. However, it was only after Wilberforce underwent what he later described as his

It was only after Wilberforce underwent what he later described as his ‘great change’ to embrace evangelical Christianity, that he became a reformer

n t. It aves ave g st ,

JANUARY – MARCH 2013 21

‘great change’ to embrace evangelical Christianity, that he became a reformer. Until then, Wilberforce was thought of as a brilliant and fashionable young parliamentarian who had the ear of the Prime Minister. However, while travelling in France in 1784, the young MP read a book by the minister and hymnwriter, Philip Dodderidge, ‘The Rise and Progress of Religion

in the Soul’, which caused the evangelical awakenings of his youth to begin to stir once again in his soul. Worried that a confession of evangelical Christianity (which was largely despised among the fashionable people he associated with) would ruin his political career, Wilberforce thrust the matter to the back of his mind. However, during the next year he came under such conviction that he sought out the help and advice of his old friend, John Newton. With Newton’s help and counsel, Wilberforce came to an assurance of salvation in Christ. He made a public confession of his faith by joining the Clapham Set, a group of evangelical members of the Anglican Church, centred around John Venn, Rector of Clapham Church in London. As a result of his conversion, Wilberforce became interested in social reform and was eventually approached by Lady Middleton to use his power as an MP to bring an end to the slave trade. He thought himself totally inadequate for such an immense task, but John Newton advised him that it was ‘for such a time as this’ that he had been placed in a position where he could secure the abolition of the slave trade. It was in the House of Commons, Newton stated, that Wilberforce could best serve God. For the old ex-slaver, who bitterly regretted his past, the conversion of Wilberforce came as an answer to prayer. Activists – mainly from the Quakers – had presented a petition to Parliament ☞

Story turned into hit movie

A scene from the film

A film about William Wilberforce’s monumental contribution to world history was released in 2007 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the British slave trade. ‘Amazing Grace’ was produced by Walden Media. Directed by Michael Apted, and starring Ioan Gruffudd as Wilberforce, and Albert Finney as the converted slave-trader and hymn-writer John Newton, the film presents a fascinating historicalpolitical thriller about the life of the anti-slavery activist. Primarily chronicled is Wilberforce’s extraordinary fight to abolish the British slave trade, a victory he won just three days before his death in 1833.


22 JANUARY – MARCH 2013

William Wilberforce in 1783 and in 1787 had helped form the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. One problem they faced, in addition to overcoming the objections of those who profited by it, was to raise public awareness as to the sheer wickedness of the slave trade. John Newton himself admitted that, even after his conversion, it took him a long time to realise that slavery was against the basic principles of Christianity. Indeed, to be the master of a slave ship was considered a respectable mercantile profession by most people, even if it did involve shipping people in grossly inhuman conditions and using thumbscrews on recalcitrant members of the cargo. It was only when Newton looked back that he realised what he himself would later describe to the Privy Council as ‘the dreadful effects of the slave trade’. The road ahead for the abolitionists would be long and difficult. However, there is no doubt as to Wilberforce’s credentials to lead the campaign in Parliament. Although often frail in health and sometimes plagued with self-doubt, he nevertheless possessed great determination and a refusal to be beaten in spite of many setbacks. In addition, although Wilberforce was

small in stature and unprepossessing in looks – contemporary portraits show him peering at the world quizzically through small, bright eyes over a long, upturned nose – once he began to speak he showed mighty powers of wit and oratory. He was said by Madame de Stael, the famous author, to be ‘the wittiest man in England and the most religious’. William Pitt credited him with possessing ‘the greatest natural eloquence of all the men I ever met’ and James Boswell, Dr Johnson’s biographer, quipped that when Wilberforce spoke ‘the shrimp became a whale’. Historian GM Trevelyan called this ‘shrimp’ the primary human agent for ‘one of the turning events in the history of the world’. The anti-slavery campaign certainly provoked furious opposition from vested interests and the establishment. Planters, businessmen, ship owners, traditionalists, and even the Crown opposed the movement. Many feared personal financial ruin and nationwide recession if the trade ceased. Wilberforce was vilified many times. The great navel hero, Admiral Horatio Nelson, castigated ‘the damnable doctrine of

Wilberforce and his hypocritical allies’. One of Wilberforce’s friends wrote fearing he would one day read of Wilberforce being ‘carbonadoed [broiled] by West Indian planters, barbecued by African merchants, and eaten by Guinea captains’. In spite of the fierceness of the opposition, Wilberforce’s spirit was indomitable, his enthusiasm unquenchable. One slave owner’s agent in Jamaica wrote: “It is necessary to watch him, as he is blessed with a very sufficient quantity of that enthusiastic spirit, which is so far from yielding that it grows more vigorous from blows.” Illness prevented Wilberforce from making his first speech against the slave trade until 1789, but when he presented his first abolition bill in 1791 it was easily defeated by 163 votes to 88. He refused to be beaten, however, and he and his fellow abolitionists continued relentlessly in their campaign to have the slave trade outlawed. As a result of their efforts, in 1805 the House of Commons passed a bill that made it unlawful for any British subject to transport slaves. The measure was initially blocked by the House of Lords, but it was carried

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