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:
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,