FACT Mission Statement

We are :
From various churches
Assisting and serving our communities
Christians working together
To make a difference

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Eric Liddell and Corrie Ten Boom

Eric Liddel Minister Scottish Presbyterian Church 16 January 1902 – 21 February 1945
Eric Liddell, often called the "Flying Scotsman", was born in Tianjin (formerly transliterated as Tientsin)  in North China, second son of the Rev & Mrs James Dunlop Liddell who were Scottish missionaries with the London Missionary Society. Liddell was born in 1902 and went to school in China until the age of five. At the age of six, he and his brother Rob, eight years old, were enrolled in Eltham College, Mottingham, a boarding school in England for the sons of missionaries. Their parents and sister Jenny returned to China. During the boys' time at Eltham their parents, sister and new brother Ernest came home on furlough two or three times and were able to be together as a family - mainly living in Edinburgh.

At Eltham, Liddell was an outstanding sportsman, being awarded the Blackheath Cup as the best athlete of his year, playing for the First XI and the First XV by the age of 15, later becoming captain of both the cricket and rugby union teams. His headmaster described him as being 'entirely without vanity'.[citation needed]

Eric Liddell became well-known for being the fastest runner in Scotland while at Eltham College. Newspapers carried the stories of his successful track meets. Many articles stated that he was a potential Olympic winner, and no one from their country had ever won a gold medal before.

During the summer of 1924, the Olympics were hosted by the city of Paris. Liddell was a committed Christian and refused to run on Sunday (the Christian Sabbath), with the consequence that he was forced to withdraw from the 100 metres race, his best event. The schedule had been published several months earlier, and his decision was made well before the Games began. Liddell spent the intervening months training for the 400 metres, an event in which he had previously excelled. Even so, his success in the 400m was largely unexpected. The day of 400 metres race came, and as Liddell went to the starting blocks, an American masseur slipped a piece of paper into Liddell's hand with a quotation from 1 Samuel 2:30, "Those who honour me I will honour." Liddell ran with that piece of paper in his hand. He not only won the race, but broke the existing world record with a time of 47.6 seconds. A few days earlier Liddell had competed in the 200 metre finals, for which he received the bronze medal behind Americans Jackson Scholz and Charles Paddock, beating Harold Abrahams, who finished in sixth place. (This was the second and last race in which these two runners met.)

His performance in the 400 metres in Paris remained a world record for four years, and a European record for 12 years, until it was beaten by another British athlete, Godfrey Brown, at the Berlin Olympics.

Liddell returned to Northern China where he served as a missionary, like his parents, from 1925 to 1943 - first in Tianjin and later in the town of Xiaozhang (Simplified Chinese 肖张镇)[2], Zaoqiang County, Hengshui, Hebei province. During this time he continued to compete sporadically, including wins over members of the 1928 French and Japanese Olympic teams in the 200 and 400 metres at the South Manchurian Railway celebrations in China in 1928 and a victory at the 1930 North China championship.

Liddell's first job as a missionary was as a teacher at an Anglo-Chinese College (grades 1-12) for wealthy Chinese students. It was believed that by teaching the children of the wealthy that they themselves would later become influential figures in China and promote Christian values. He used his athletic experience to train the boys in a number of different sports. One of his many responsibilities was that of superintendent of the Sunday school at Union Church where his father was pastor. Liddell lived at 38 Chongqing Dao (formerly known as Cambridge Road) in Tianjin and a plaque still stands today to commemorate his former residence. He also helped build the Minyuan Stadium in Tianjin. He suggested that it be copied exactly from Chelsea's football ground as he had run there previously, and this was said to be his favourite running venue.

During his first furlough in 1932, he was ordained as a minister of religion. On his return to China he married Florence Mackenzie of Canadian missionary parentage in Tianjin in 1934. Liddell courted his future wife by taking her for lunch to the famous Kiesling restaurant which is still open in Tianjin. They had three daughters, Patricia, Heather and Maureen, the last of whom he would not live to see. The school Eric taught at is still used as a school today. One of Liddell's daughters visited Tianjin in 1991 and presented the headmaster of the school with one of the medals that Eric had won for athletics.[citation needed]

In 1941 life in China was becoming so dangerous that the British Government advised British nationals to leave. Florence and the children left for Canada to stay with her family when Liddell accepted a new position at a rural mission station in Shaochang, which gave service to the poor. He joined his brother, Rob, who was a doctor there. The station was severely short of help and the missionaries who served there were exhausted. There was a constant stream of local people who came at all hours to get medical treatment. Liddell arrived at the station in time to relieve his brother who was ill, needing to go on furlough. Liddell suffered many hardships himself at this mission station

Meanwhile, the Chinese and the Japanese were at war. When the fighting reached Shaochang the Japanese took over the mission station. In 1943, Liddell was interned at the Weihsien (now known as Weifang) Internment Camp with the members of the China Inland Mission Chefoo (now known as Yantai) School. Liddell became a leader at the camp and helped get it organized. Food, medicines, and other supplies ran short at the camp. There were many cliques in the camp and when some rich businessmen managed to smuggle in some eggs to the camp, Liddell shamed them into sharing them with the rest of the camp. Fellow missionaries were forming cliques, moralising, and acting selfishly. Eric kept himself busy by helping the elderly, teaching at the camp school Bible classes, arranging games and also by teaching the children scienceIn his last letter to his wife, written on the day he died, he talks about suffering a nervous breakdown in the camp due to overwork, but in actuality he was suffering from an inoperable brain tumour, to which being overworked and malnourished probably hastened his demise. He died on 21 February 1945, five months before liberation. He was greatly mourned not only at the Weihsien internment Camp but also in Scotland as well. A fellow internee, Langdon Gilkey, was later to write, "The entire camp, especially its youth, was stunned for days, so great was the vacuum that Eric's death had left."

It was recently revealed by the Chinese authorities that Liddell had given up an opportunity to leave the camp and instead gave his place to a pregnant woman. Apparently, the Japanese did a deal with the British,with Churchill's approval, for prisoner exchange. Therefore, because Eric was a famous athlete he was one of the chosen as part of the prisoner exchange. However, he gave his place to another. This information was released near the time of the Beijing Olympics by the Chinese government and apparently news of this great act of sacrifice came as a surprise even to his family members.

Corrrie Ten Boom  laywoman Dutch Reformed Church April 15 1892 – April 15 1983

Corrie ten Boom was born on 15 April, 1892 around Haarlem, as the youngest of four children. Her mother died of a stroke at the age of 63. Her father Casper ten Boom was a well-liked watch repairman, and often referred to as "Haarlem's Grand Old Man". Her older sister, Elisabeth (Betsie), was born with pernicious anemia. They had two siblings- a sister, Nollie, and a brother, Willem. They lived with three of her mother's sisters: Aunt, or Tante, Jans (pronounced 'yunss'), Anna, and Bep. Willem graduated from a theology school and warned the Dutch that unless they took action, they would fall to the Nazis. He wrote a dissertation on racial anti-Semitism at theological college in 1927 in preparation for his ordination. He married a woman named Tine and together had four children. Nollie, a school teacher, married a Flip, a fellow teacher and they had six children one of which was named Peter. Corrie and Betsie never married.

Corrie began training as a watchmaker in 1920 and in 1922 became the first female watchmaker licensed in the Netherlands. In 1923, she helped organize girls' clubs, and in the 1930s these clubs grew to become the very large Triangle club

In 1940, the Nazis invaded the Netherlands and banned Corrie Ten Boom's club. In 1942, she and her family had become very active in the Dutch underground, hiding refugees. They rescued many Jews from certain death at the hands of the Nazi SS. They helped Jews because of their veneration for God's Chosen People (though the Ten Boom family was known for their gracious character towards all, especially the handicapped), and even provided kosher food and honored the Jewish Sabbath. Corrie's family were devout Christians. She and her family resided at Barteljorisstraat 19, Haarlem, Holland. The Jews hid in a room that the ten Boom family had built in Corrie's bedroom for them by an architect belonging to the Dutch Resistance. The room was the size of a medium wardrobe, 75 cm (30") deep, with an air vent on the outside wall.The Nazis never found this room because the only entrance was a small hatch which slid open to let the Jews in and out.

Corrie knew many in Haarlem, thanks to her charitable work, and remembered a couple who had a developmentally disabled daughter. For about twenty years, Corrie ten Boom had run a special church service program for such children, and knew the family. The father was a civil servant who was by then in charge of the local ration-card office. She went to his house unannounced one evening, and he seemed to know why. When he asked how many ration cards she needed, "I opened my mouth to say, 'Five,'" Ten Boom wrote in The Hiding Place. "But the number that unexpectedly and astonishingly came out instead was. 'One hundred.'"

The Germans arrested the entire Ten Boom family on February 28, 1944 at around 12:30 with the help of a Dutch informant. They were sent first to Scheveningen prison (where her father died ten days after his capture). Corrie's sister Nollie, brother Willem, and nephew Peter were all released. Later, Corrie and Betsie were sent to the Vught political concentration camp (both in the Netherlands), and finally to the notorious Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany on December 16, 1944, where Corrie's sister Betsie died. Before she died she told Corrie, "There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still." Corrie was released on New Year's Eve of December 1944.

1 comment:

  1. Just thought I would point out that Eric Liddell was a minister in the congregational church not the presbyterian church, although the church he attended in Edinburgh is now in joint communion with the URC (which the congregationalists joined up with) and the Church of Scotland. I believe the only joint congregation of its kind in Scotland.