Amazing Grace

It is impossible to imagine 10 million Africans being crowded aboard slave ships on a journey into injustice, cruelty, and unimaginable human suffering. An estimated 20% of them died at sea.
 In England, William Wilberforce, a quiet 21 year old, was elected to the British Parliament. He admitted he was lazy and rarely spoke.
 Slavery was so accepted that it was unacceptable to speak in public of abolishing it. Before Parliament could be changed to act against the travesty, the hearts of millions in Briton had to be changed.
 About the same time, John Newton, the son of a slave trader, was involved trading in slaves for the East India Company. In 1748, his ship almost sank in a violent storm. He fell on his knees and asked God for mercy. He renounced his trade and became a minister in the Church of England. He wrote a sermon titled “Faith’s Review and Expectation.” It was the basis of what was at first a chant not a song. It became a song that now has 972 arrangements and is found in 1,100 music albums. That song, “Amazing Grace,” compared God’s grace and his own wretchedness.
 As a child, Wilberforce met Newton. Now as an adult he began attending Newton’s church. That, coupled with his own reading of the New Testament changed his life. Compassion flooded his life and his great oratory skills were birthed.  He committed his life to working against a number of injustices such as prison reform, fair care of prisoners of war, improvements in hospitals, the prevention of cruelty to animals, and society reforms throughout the British Empire. None received more effort than slavery.
He knew the improbability amid the existing social climate of abolishing slavery. The slave trade however was the life’s blood of the economy. Tactfully and eloquently he began to speak before Parliament of the impropriety and immorality of buying and selling human beings. His endgame was the abolishment of slavery. Almost imperceptibility the hearts of the British people and then Parliament were changed to see the evil of such conduct.
 Though chronically ill he pursued his efforts which were repeatedly repulsed. His courage and compassion led to him being called “the conscience of Parliament.” He crafted several anti-slavery bills which were defeated. Persistently Wilberforce collected evidence of the injustice of slavery and garnered 390,000 signatures opposing it.
 His tenacity resulted in Parliament approving his abolishment bill in 1807, and ended the travesty that caused millions to suffer. Wilberforce, a man small in statue, stood tall and wept over the victory.
 On this the 200th anniversary of that action, a movie related to the events has been released entitled “Amazing Grace.” It is a must see.
 Globally today there are more than 27 million people living is slavery. The struggle goes on. May those who have experienced amazing grace ever struggle against slavery.