28 Days of Ronald Reagan – Day 4

“I, in my own mind, have always thought of America as a place in the divine scheme of things that was set aside as a promised land. It was set here and the price of admission was very simple: the means of selection was very simple as to how this land should be populated. Any place in the world and any person from those places; any person with the courage, with the desire to tear up their roots, to strive for freedom, to attempt and dare to live in a strange and foreign place, to travel halfway across the world was welcome here.”

June 1952 Commencement address at Williams Woods College

Ronald Wilson Reagan
February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004
40th President of the United States

February 6, 2011 marks the Centennial of Ronald Reagan’s birth.  Reagan was unquestionably the greatest President of my lifetime, and in my opinion, the greatest President of the 20th Century.  For the month of February, 2011, we present “28 Days of Ronald Reagan” featuring a daily tribute.  We’ll include his wit, and his wisdom and some of our favorite stories.

When I Need a Little Inspiration

One of my favorite films of inspiration is Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce and his fight to end the slave trade in England nearly 60 years before the beginning of the American Civil war.

The title of the movie comes from the cherished hymn written by John Newton the former captain of a slave ship. In the movie, Newton inspires Wilberforce and near the end of his life says to Wilberforce “Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”

It’s a story of courage and of determination. It’s a story of faith. And I always come away from it feeling like I need to do something significant.

Truth be told, I also always watch through the credits to see the recognition given my Alma Mater, Asbury College, now Asbury University. As a Wesleyan school, Asbury has a connection to Wilberforce. In his last letter written in 1791, Wesley wrote to Wilberforce:

Dear Sir:

Unless the divine power has raised you up to be as Athanasius contra mundum, [“Athanasius arrayed against the world.” ] I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that execrable villainy which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be fore you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.

Reading this morning a tract wrote by a poor African, I was particularly struck by that circumstance that a man who has a black skin, being wronged or outraged by a white man, can have no redress; it being a “law” in our colonies that the oath of a black against a white goes for nothing. What villainy is this?

That he who has guided you from youth up may continue to strengthen you in this and all things, is the prayer of, dear sir,

Your affectionate servant,
John Wesley