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V. Chariot's of Fire
This subject is not a simple one especially since it spans so many
countries and centuries.
This part concerns Scotland during the 1800’s and first part of this
century. These are things you already know about, I'm sure, but have you
thought about how your ancestors were affected by the religious fervor of
My sources are “Famous Scots” by Ian Fellowes Gordon, “The Flying Scotsman”
by Sally Magnusson and “God’s Joyful Runner” by Russell W. Ramsey.
Remember the movie Chariots of Fire? The movie concerned two runners as
they prepared and lived their lives prior to the 1924 Paris Olympics. Eric
Liddell was the son of missionaries to China. We had a glimpse of the
fervency of the missionary fever that still gripped the nation as he held
the church meetings around the country.
A generation before or more many people from Scotland went forth to Africa,
China, India and other remote places. Behind them was a well organized and
supported Mission Society. People like David Livingston born 1813 who spent
most of his life in Africa where he died in 1863 is one you know. But you
probably don’t know Mary Slessor b. 1848 , a plucky little lady who went to
the Congo. She d. 1915. Her name in West Africa means more even than David
Livingstone’s, more than those of others who gave lives on that continent.
There were so many more like them because there were so many willing to go
and so many willing to support and pray for them. Rarely did missionaries
ever return. They died at their post, even so, there were hundreds willing
to go. I think that this gives a feeling for our Scottish ancestors during
this time. What they were thinking about, what their priorities were, and
where their extra pennies went.
Eric Liddell’s brother and parents were already in China when he put aside
his racing shoes, graduated, and left for China. He married Florence
McKenzie, the daughter of Canadian missionaries whom Eric had known for
years. When she was expecting their 2nd or third child, the Japanese were
invading China and he sent his family to Canada for safety. The story of
what happened then is better than anything you’ll see on TV.
But we will never forget the ecstasy on his upturned face as he ran those
races for the sheer love of it and like so many of his countrymen, the love
of God in his heart.
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