Minister Abroad: Never on Sunday

by Rev Robert A Wendel

“He who honors Me, I will Honor”  ( Samuel 2:20).

When one is honored all rejoice.” (I Corinthians 12:26)

Jesus replied “The Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)

It’s summer.  In the sports world, it’s outdoor track and field season.  I always take notice when athletes honor their faith convictions on the field of play.  There’s such a story as re-told in the Academy Award winning motion picture “Chariots of Fire”.

In 1924 at the Summer Olympics in Paris, Eric Liddell of Scotland refused to run a pre-race heat because it was scheduled on the first day of the week which is faith taught him would violate the Sabbath (I Samuel 2:20).   Liddell managed to negotiate an unheard of switch with Harold Abrahams, a devote Jew, from the 100-meter dash he had trained for to, instead, compete in the 400meter event later in the week for which he had not trained.

On July 11th running in the difficult outside lane, by the final straightaway Eric lead the other runners by four or five yards.  Liddell won the race in a world record and gold medal winning time of 46.06 seconds thrilling the cheering stadium crowd. (I Corinthians 12:26).

Liddell answered newsmen saying “I had no formula for winning the race.  Everyone runs in their own way.  Where does the power come from to see the race to the end” From within.   Jesus said “Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.”   If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race” (Luke 17:21).

The next year, young Liddell left Edinburgh to return to China where he had been born to Scottish Presbyterian missionaries.  Two decades later he was taken prisoner with other Christian missionaries having to spend the last months of his life in a Japanese internment camp dying in occupied China in 1946.  All of Scotland mourned.

Leaving his memorial service an attendee remarked “It is a blessing when someone has the good fortune to meet a saint, but he comes as close to it as anyone could when meeting Eric Liddell.”