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William Wilberforce: Still an impressive role model

by Rev. Dr 

Preston Manning has for years encouraged Christians who want to make a difference in society to follow the example of William Wilberforce.
William Wilberforce had two main goals: the abolition of slavery and the reform of morals.

William Wilberforce said: “God almighty has set before me two great objects: the suppression of the Slave Trade and the reformation of manners.”

Abraham Lincoln once said that every school child should know about William Wilberforce. Ed Hird describes how the famed 19th century British parliamentarian developed – and retained – his uncompromising stand against slavery. He also spoke to Preston Manning, former Opposition Leader in Canada’s Parliament, who presented Lessons Learned from William Wilberforce’s Campaign to Abolish Slavery at a breakfast meeting in Abbotsford on February 1.

For 20 long years, from 1787 to 1807, William Wilberforce campaigned relentlessly for the abolition of the slave trade. It was incredibly painful and often deeply discouraging. What kept him from giving up as he faced defeat after defeat?

He had previously lived a self-indulgent life as a very wealthy upper class Englishman. What motivated him to stop wasting his life in drinking, gambling and endless parties?

He was a popular Member of Parliament who wowed crowds with his remarkable singing and wit. Prime Minister William Pitt said that Wilberforce had the greatest natural eloquence of all the men he had ever known. What caused Wilberforce to choose the unpopular path of putting principle above politics, and conscience over ambition?

Youthful influences

With the death of his father at just age 40, William’s comfortable world was radically shaken. At eight years of age, after his mother suffered serious illness, he was shipped off to his Uncle William and Aunt Hannah in Wimbledon.

There he became exposed to a deep faith, even being mentored by Rev. John Newton, the former slave ship captain and author of the song Amazing Grace. Some trace Wilberforce’s hatred of slavery back to this early encounter.

When Wilberforce’s wealthy grandfather got wind of his new spirituality, he threatened to disinherit him. His mother promptly rescued him and did her best to cure him through endless parties and upper class distractions.

For a while, the cure was effective. After his grandfather’s death, Wilberforce inherited the family fortune which funded his election as a very young MP. His good friend William Pitt Jr., only 24, became the youngest prime minister in English history.

Faith recovered

While spending the winter at the fashionable French and Italian Rivieras, he was suddenly called back to London to support Pitt’s Parliamentary Reform Bill. While crossing the Swiss Alps, Wilberforce read The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul by Philip Doddridge.

Both Doddridge and John Wesley were instrumental in reintroducing the forgotten teachings of Richard Baxter about self-examination, solitude, devotions and diligence. After discussing Doddridge’s book with his former tutor, Isaac Milner, Wilberforce’s life was never the same. He rediscovered his childhood faith at an adult level.

Wilberforce began reading the Bible in the original Greek. He wanted to find out for himself what the Christian faith was actually about. He discovered that it was not a system of gloomy prohibitions; true faith is about peace and hope and joy.

The Amazing Grace movie which Preston Manning often shows to young leaders vividly portrays that when Wilberforce fell in love with Jesus, he also fell in love with God’s creation. As an 18th century flower child, he saw flowers as the smiles of God’s goodness.

Putting faith into action

Rather than dropping out of politics as he was tempted to do, Wilberforce turned his new-found faith into practical action. Prime Minister Pitt wrote him, saying: “Surely the principles as well as the practice of Christianity are simple, and lead not to meditation only but to action.” We are called by Jesus to be salt and light in the public arena.

Reconnecting with his old mentor John Newton, Wilberforce realized that God could use him to end the slave trade: “God almighty has set before me two great objects: the suppression of the Slave Trade and the reformation of manners.”

Eighteenth-century England was rife with alcohol abuse, child prostitution, child labour and animal exploitation. There were more than 14,000 slaves in England alone, with hundreds of thousands more in the rich Caribbean colonies.

The future King of England, George IV, was famous for his immorality and gambling debts, keeping lockets of hair from all 7,000 women he had seduced. He and his brothers dismissed abolitionists like Wilberforce as fanatics and hypocrites.

Preston Manning has for years encouraged Christians who want to make a difference in society to follow the example of William Wilberforce.

Manning on Wilberforce

Preston Manning, now president and CEO for the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, told me that Wilberforce, in abolishing slavery, conducted a classic campaign integrating moral, economic and political issues.

As a committed Christian, Wilberforce followed Jesus’ teaching to be ‘wise as serpents and harmless as doves.’ He was careful how he introduced the taboo subject of abolition. Rather than politically discrediting others, said Manning, Wilberforce wisely erred on the side of graciousness.

Entrenched opposition

Because England was the foremost slave-trading nation on earth, it was initially unthinkable to even discuss giving up the practice. Many saw such moral reform as commercial suicide. One merchant said the African slave trade was “the foundation of our commerce . . . the life of our navigation and first cause of our national industry and riches.”

Eighty per cent of overseas British income came from the Caribbean slave plantations. In Bristol, after the initial defeat of Wilberforce’s anti-slavery bill, bells were rung, a bonfire was lit and a half-day holiday was awarded to sailors and workers. The passion for slave-produced sugar had killed their conscience. Trinidadian Prime Minister Eric Williams said it was strange that an article like sugar, so sweet and necessary to human existence, should have occasioned such crimes and bloodshed!

While fighting the slave trade, Wilberforce also invested in improving the life of England’s poor, giving one-quarter of his income, representing the equivalent of $300,000, away each year. He started cancer hospitals, eye clinics and many faith-based schools for the poor.

One civic leader begged them to not bring “any religion into the country, it was the worst thing in the world for the poor, for it made them lazy and useless.” Wilberforce knew that without prayer, all his work would be in vain: “Of all things, guard against neglecting God in the secret place of prayer.”

Change takes time

While the slave trade was abolished in 1807, slaves were not liberated until just before Wilberforce’s death. Some 800,000 Afro-Caribbeans were set free on July 31, 1834.

Some abandoned slavery because of changes in the industrial free market. Wilberforce, however, opposed slavery for godly, humanitarian reasons. While moving a motion for abolition, Wilberforce said, “Africa! Africa! Your sufferings have been the theme that has arrested and engages my heart – your sufferings no tongue can express, no language impart.”

Sadly there are still today 27 million people trapped in slavery and human trafficking. May Wilberforce’s godly example cause us to choose to make a lasting global difference.

Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News, Church for Vancouver Emagazine, and the Light Magazine/City Light News

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you. 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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The Power of Perseverance

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Winston_S_Churchill

Winston Churchill is famous for his advice during the Battle of Britain: “Never, ever, ever give up. Never give up. Never give up.”  It is so easy to let setbacks set us back, to let disappointments discourage us.  We can lose our first love, our original passion, our vision and focus.

Perseverance is the key to breakthrough in our lives, our marriages, our families and our work.  Without perseverance, we don’t finish well, we don’t fight the good fight, we don’t keep the faith.  The Good Shepherd once told a story in Luke 18:1-8 about a widow who was being exploited by a corrupt judge.  Widows have historically been some of the most powerless people, lacking protection and financial resources.  In some countries around the world, widows were even burned alive (Sati) on their husband’s funeral pyre.   This widow had no bribe to pay off the judge, so instead she wore him out with her pleading.

JesusThe Good Shepherd Jesus commended this persevering widow, and encouraged us to be persevering, especially in our prayer lives, never giving up.  Why are many people tempted to give up in their prayer lives? Sometimes the answers to our prayers often seem to take too long. Sometimes God says slow, or grow, or even no.   When there is great grief in our lives, our prayer lives can take a hit.  Our experience of tragedy can embitter us, and rob us of hope.  Jesus commended the persevering widow as a model for all of us.  God wants us to persevere.

Andrew Murray, a famous 19th Century South African write, once said “Of all the mysteries of the prayer world, the need for persevering prayer is one of the greatest.”  A Facebook friend of mine, Matthew Lee Smith, sent me this note: “This Sunday, preach like Jesus is coming Monday! I am praying for you right now my friend!”  I am so encouraged when I know that people are praying for me. People can gossip about you, or they can pray for you.  It is a radical choice.  It is so easy to get discouraged and cut back in our praying for certain people. We may not even want to think about them, let alone pray for them.  It’s too painful.  God wants us to persevere.

Praying Hands pictureJesus was a man of prayer. The closer Jesus came to the cross, the more he prayed. Jesus prayed like no one else did.  He ever got a prayer named after him: The Lord’s Prayer.   This is a challenging time to be a Christian, to attend Church, to be a worshiper. Without prayer, we will get taken out, distracted, knocked off course.  If you are discouraged, pray. If you have lost heart, pray. If you don’t know the way forward, pray.  Prayer is the way forward. God always makes a way when it seems that there is no way forward.

God loves to keep his promises.  He loves to answer prayer.  Prayer is about leaning on the everlasting arms.  It is about trusting that He’s got the whole world in his hands, his faithfulness is great, and all that I have needed his hand has provided.  Prayer is about practicing God’s presence.  Jesus will never leave us or forsake us. He loves us with an everlasting love.  My prayer for those reading this article  is that we will learn from the persevering widow to never give up, to always persist, and to always keep on praying.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-an article previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you. 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


2 Comments

The Joy of Les Miserables

By the Rev. Dr.  Ed Hird

eiffel tower in paris france
Photo by Nextvoyage on Pexels.com

People have been raving about the musical version of Les Miserable which has already had around three hundred million dollars in worldwide box office sales.

Nicky Gumbel calls it a superb film, a triumph of grace over law, good over evil, love over hate. Eric Metaxas said that it is one of the most vivid, most moving examples of God’s goodness and mercy currently playing at a movie theatre near you. I enjoyed the new movie so much that it inspired me to again watch the 1998 version with Liam Neeson and Uma Thurman. Though my wife and I saw the Les Miserables production many years at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, this time round seemed to be striking a deeper chord with myself. The original novel, which I now have in eBook version, has been in print for over 150 years. Upton Sinclair calls the novel Les Miserables one of the five greatest novels of the world. With 1500 pages (1900 in French), it is also one of the longest novels ever written.

Many of you already know this delightful story of how an embittered ex-convict named Jean Valjean stole from a bishop who turns the other cheek and challenges Valjean to become a new man. Victor Hugo has the bishop say: “Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I buy from you; I withdraw it from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God.” In gratitude, Valjean spends the rest of his life showing amazing grace, love and forgiveness to others. The forgiven forgive. Valjean’s life is based loosely on the life of Eugène François Vidocq, an ex-convict who became a thriving entrepreneur known for his good works. In 1828, Vidocq, like Valjean, rescued one of his factory workers by lifting a heavy cart on his shoulders.

The tension in the movie between forgiveness and judgment is expressed through the police inspector Javert relentlessly pursuing Valjean. Javert tells Prisoner 24601 (Valjean) that ‘men like you can never change’. Again and again Valjean shocks Javert by forgiving the unforgivable. Valjean offered to Javert the same radical reconciliation and healing that had been given to him. Javert cannot handle forgiveness because he is so fixated on people getting what they deserve. Javert was legalistic and self-righteous. This caused him to persecute the very person whose life had been transformed, the very person who was doing so much good for others. Javert’s compassion is completely lacking. Life becomes no more than following the rules and trusting in one’s own efforts. For Javert, God is an unforgiving moralistic tyrant. For Valjean, God is personal, caring and loving.

Anne Hathaway’s performance as Fantine was spectacular, particularly in her singing of ‘I Dreamed a Dream.’ In 1841, Hugo personally rescued a prostitute from arrest for assault. We grieve with Fantine over the injustice of her losing her job and being forced into prostitution to feed her child Cossette. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times notes that Les Miserables ‘delivers an emotional wallop when it counts. You can walk into the theater as an agnostic, but you may just leave singing with the choir.’

Les Miserables reminds us that anyone can change; anyone can become a new person. We are not fated to be bitter and miserable. We can choose the way of forgiveness and joy. We can choose to be a new creation like Valjean. My prayer for those reading this article is that the movie Les Miserables may inspire each of us to forgive and serve one another as did Valjean.

The Rev. Dr.  Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you. 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca