On this day in 1945, Eric Liddell, missionary to China, died in a Japanese prison camp.

Eric had been born in china, where his parents were missionaries.  As a young boy, he had been sent back to England to attend boarding school.  Here, he trained hard in the athletic field, becoming a very accomplished athlete.  He actually went on to win an Olympic gold medal.  But at the age of twenty-three, he left all of that to return to China and took up the work his parents began.

For twenty years, Eric labored with his wife, Florence, and three daughters.  But in 1937, the Japanese army invaded China and slowly began to take control of the entire country.  The English embassy, alarmed by the danger, strongly recommended that all their citizens leave the China.  But Eric couldn’t bring himself to forsake his growing church.  He safely sent his wife and children to Canada, but he stayed behind with his brother to continue the work.

In 1943, Eric was taken by the Japanese and placed inside a horrid prison camp outside of Peking.  But Eric didn’t allow this to stop him.  He immediately began to work among the other inmates.  Day after day, he prayed with the sick, coached the children, and witnessed to the lost.  When the English government heard of Eric’s capture, they made a special prisoner trade to get him released.  But instead, Eric had a pregnant lady get exchanged in his place.

Eric became a spiritual leader in the camp and everyone looked up to him.  A friend, who was at the camp, said that he was “the finest Christian gentleman it has been my pleasure to meet. In all the time in the camp, I never heard him say a bad word about anybody”.  But soon problems arose.  As Eric labored, he began to suffer from severe headaches.  Nothing he did was able to help the pain.  Just a month after his 43rd birthday, Eric Liddell died.  It was discovered that a brain tumor had been what killed him.

His death not only shocked the United Kingdom, it shook the prison camp.  It was recorded that “the entire camp, especially its youth, was stunned for days, so great was the vacuum that Eric’s death had left.”  Eric had given up his chance to gain gold in this world, only to gain much gold in the world to come.

Source:

Eric Liddell

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