Most of us have been enthralled with all the Olympic fever of the last couple of weeks. As the track and field events began, I couldn’t help but think back to the story told in the movie, “Chariots of Fire.”
As you probably remember, the film tells the story of Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams. Eric was born to Scottish missionaries while they served in China. As a world-class sprinter, he represented Great Britain at the 1924 Olympics. But Eric was faced with a major moral dilemma about running a race on Sunday (the Sabbath).
If you saw the movie, you know he did not run that race. But he did switch to a different race and captured a gold medal for the 400-meter competition. But there is so much more to his story…
A year after the Olympics, he returned to China and spent the last 16 years of his life serving the church there. When the war between China and Japan erupted, he served tirelessly in the center of the war zone at the London Mission Hospital in Siaochang.
His compassion for the wounded and his servant’s heart, opened many doors for the gospel. One patient later wrote that he was so impressed by the care he had witnessed, he wanted to know more about that Jesus that Eric and others talked incessantly about.
Although all the missionaries were advised to leave the country in 1941, Eric only sent his family to Canada, but he stayed on to serve the people he loved.
Eventually, he was interned in a Japanese camp and continued his ministry there. He taught science classes, Sunday school, organized sports for the children and served the families any way he could. His fellow prisoners remarked, “Wherever he went, he brought confidence and happiness.”
He died of a brain tumor just a few months before the camp was liberated.
So maybe this week as you watch some of those background stories about the athletes, remember Eric Liddell. He was an amazing runner whom God made fast. But more importantly, he was an amazing servant that God used, over and over again.
It is a great opportunity to review our own gifts, talents and abilities and to make sure they are all at the disposal of the King.