Tuesday, September 25, 2012

William Wilberforce

We have been quite awed this past week as we have learned more about William Wilberforce's campaign to end slavery in England in the late 18th century.  If you are not familiar with his story, get thee to a library (or just go on amazon!) as soon as possible and get a book about him.  You may have heard of, or seen, the movie Amazing Grace, about his life.  It is a wonderful movie that gets many details right.  But a well researched biography has more of the details right, and gives you a lot more info than a 2 hour movie can.

Our two middle schoolers read parts of a book about Wilberforce, while our high school daughter read an entire (short) biography of him written by John Piper.

Of all the interesting, amazing, noteworthy (insert other superlatives here) aspects of Wilberforce's life, the one that stands out to me the most is his tenacity and perseverance.  He became a member of the British Parliament at the tender age of 21, and took up the cause of abolishing slavery about 7 years later.  From that point on, for 46 years, he worked tirelessly to outlaw slavery.  FORTY SIX YEARS!  That was a LOT of "no" votes, a lot of friendships lost, a lot of ridicule endured, a lot of rejection.  But he never gave up.  He never quit.  He never said, "I think I've done enough."  He persevered until slavery was finally abolished just a few months before his death in 1833.

And throughout this 46 year struggle, he lived his life with an incredible sense of joy.

Truly, his was a life filled with God's amazing grace.

Our three older children are all writing short essays about Wilberforce this week.  Here is our daughter's opening paragraph:

"William Wilberforce is best known for working tirelessly for the abolition of slavery.  Surprisingly Wilberforce did not always live his life with purpose.  In his youth he was a spoiled, selfish libertine, who was completely uninterested in God.  He had inherited a large fortune from his father, and used it, unfortunately, on gambling and dining at fancy London clubs.  Having some interest in politics, in 1780 when he was only twenty one, he got a spot in Parliament, starting his political career.  Later Wilberforce commented, "The first years I was in Parliament I did nothing - nothing to any purpose.  My own distinction was my darling object."  Then, at age 25, he was converted to Christ by Isaac Milner, who was his old schoolmaster.  Wilberforce felt God so powerfully that he went in secret to talk to John Newton because he felt confused about his calling.  He wasn't sure if he should continue his political career or serve God by becoming a minister.  Wilberforce had known Newton since he was thirteen, as Newton was his childhood pastor.  Newton encouraged Wilberforce and hinted that he could, indeed, serve God by serving in politics.  Introduced to the horrors of slavery, William Wilberforce launched himself into the campaign for its abolition in 1787."

Doesn't this make you want to read the rest?!?

Last week we read about this incredible man and saw the movie Amazing Grace.  This week we are writing about him.  I am thankful for the opportunity to dig a little deeper into the life of such an obedient and faithful Christian!

(and as an aside to this: for the first time in several years we are not using a packaged IEW product for our writing, but I am creating all our writing assignments myself based on IEW methods.  I am LOVING this opportunity to more closely tie our writing with our history!  Finally following the wise adage of Marcia Somerville (author of Tapestry of Grace) to "read, think/discuss, write." Whoo-hoo!)

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