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An article on the book 'Heroes of the Faith' by the author J.John

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 An article on the book 'Heroes of the Faith' by the author J.John

 

Heroes of the Faith by J.John

When I first came to faith in Christ as a student in 1975, I read numerous biographies and was deeply impacted and inspired by the bold stories of faith that I encountered. Many of the people from those biographies are featured in the pages of my new book, Heroes of the Faith. For two thousand years, billions of people have followed Jesus Christ. This volume features fifty men and women – scientists, doctors, scholars, writers, reformers, preachers, missionaries, abolitionists and evangelists – who are my Heroes of the Faith. My prayer and hope is that these portraits of Christian men and women who changed their world in their own significant way will give you a faith-lift and inspire you to do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are. These fifty heroes of the faith are just a few of the ‘cloud of witnesses’ recorded in Hebrews. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

Amen. Let us ‘run with endurance the race that is set before us’.

Edward Jenner

It has been said of Edward Jenner that ‘his work saved more lives than any other man on earth’. It’s an extraordinary claim for someone who spent his entire life as a country doctor.

In thinking about smallpox, Jenner pondered a dairymaid’s intriguing comment: ‘I shall never have smallpox for I have had cowpox.’ Cowpox was a mild infection in animals which could be caught by humans with little harmful effect. Jenner concluded that there must be a possibility that smallpox could be prevented by inoculating people with cowpox. Yet as a scientist he knew that to be of any worth, any experiments had to be conducted carefully. When an outbreak of cowpox occurred locally, Jenner deliberately inoculated a young stable-hand with it. The boy suffered only mild effects and when, a few months later, he was inoculated with smallpox, he failed to catch the far more serious disease. 

Rosa Parks

Some of my heroes are known for a lifetime of activity but some, like Rosa Parks, the woman whose quiet protest ended racial segregation in the United States, are known for what they did in a moment.

On the evening of 1 December 1955, Rosa took the bus home and sat in an empty seat at the front of the section reserved for black people. As the ‘whites only’ section became full, the busdriver moved the ‘coloured’ sign behind Rosa and three other people, and ordered them to give up their seats. Three of them did but Rosa remained seated. When asked, ‘Why don’t you stand up?’ she simply responded, ‘I don’t think I should have to stand up.’ The driver said, ‘Well, if you don’t stand up, I’m going to have to call the police and have you arrested.’ When writing about this moment later Rosa said,

‘I instantly felt God give me the strength to endure whatever would happen next. God’s peace flooded my soul, and my fear melted away.’

Her response was calm and dignified: ‘You may do that.’  

C. S. Lewis

I am one of the many people who have found both wisdom and wit from the writings of C. S. Lewis.

As a young man Lewis found himself increasingly unhappy with his atheism. With a vivid imagination enriched by extensive reading, he found himself longing for something more satisfying than anything atheism could offer. Conversations about God with many Christian friends, including J. R. R. Tolkien, gradually convinced him that religion could be true and, in 1929, Lewis became a reluctant believer in God, moving within months to a full acceptance of Christianity.

Without neglecting his increasingly acclaimed academic career, Lewis started defending and promoting his new-found faith. The result was a wide variety of books which were all brilliantly written, well-argued and thoroughly accessible.

Pandita Ramabai

Pandita Ramabai was a truly extraordinary woman, reformer, educator and evangelist.

She was born in 1858 into British-ruled India that was dominated by the Hindu caste system which placed everybody in rigid social levels and treated women as inferior to men. Her father was a high-caste Hindu priest who, defying tradition, taught both Pandita and her mother to read Sanskrit, the sacred language of the Hindu scriptures.

In 1883 Pandita went to Britain with her daughter in the hope of becoming a doctor, a venture that failed due to her advancing deafness. She stayed with an Anglican women’s community where she was impressed by their care for prostitutes and the homeless. She decided to become a Christian and was baptised. It was a high-profile conversion that was considered a betrayal back in India. Although Pandita accepted Christianity, she retained much of her culture, wearing Indian dress and remaining vegetarian.

Pandita’s life was transformed in 1891 when she read the book From Death into Life in which the English vicar William Haslam recounted his dramatic conversion from a dead formal Christianity to a living faith. Pandita wrote,

‘One thing I knew by this time, that I needed Christ and not merely His religion. I had at last come to an end of myself, and unconditionally surrendered myself to the Saviour.’

From now on Pandita’s life had a new power and joy and although she remained heavily involved in social work, she was now an evangelist, preaching to all a message that focused on Christ, the Holy Spirit and prayer.

Inspired by news of the Welsh revival of 1904 Pandita encouraged prayer for revival in India, and in 1905 there were extraordinary encounters as the Holy Spirit fell, giving deep repentance, conversions and profound and lengthy worship. The revival spread out across India.

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