Zebras at a Waterhole in Okaukejo, Etosha Pan, Namibia . PHOTO : J . Rieck

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Today in History : 24th August 2011 - The Birth of William Wilberforce


William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce was born in 1759 and served in Parliament from 1780 to 1825. A turning point in his religious life was a tour of Europe. In the luggage of a travelling companion he saw a copy of  William Law's  book,  A Serious Call To a Devout and Holy Life. He asked his friend, "What is this?" and received the answer, "One of the best books ever written." The two of them agreed to read it together on the journey, and Wilberforce embarked on a lifelong program of setting aside Sundays and an interval each morning on arising for prayer and religious reading. He considered his options, including the clergy, and was persuaded by Christian friends that his calling was to serve God through politics. He was a major supporter of programs for popular education, overseas missions, parliamentary reform, and religious liberty. He is best known, however, for his untiring commitment to the abolition of slavery and the slave trade. He introduced his first anti-slavery motion in the House of Commons in 1788, in a three-and-a-half hour oration that concluded: "Sir, when we think of eternity and the future consequence of all human conduct, what is there in this life that shall make any man contradict the dictates of his conscience, the principles of justice and the law of God!
The motion was defeated. 
Wilberforce brought it up again every year for eighteen years, until the slave trade was finally abolished on 25 March 1806. 
He continued the campaign against slavery itself, and the bill for the abolition of all slavery in British territories passed its crucial vote just four days before his death on 29 July 1833. 
A year later, on 31 July 1834, 800,000 slaves, chiefly in the British West Indies, were set free. 


Lessons for  Namibian Christians   from his life:

1. William  Wilberforce was  a politician  deeply influenced  by  the Scriptures. May God give us  Namibian Christian politicians .

2. He fought  not for his own agenda or glory ; he  fought  for those who were oppressed under unjust systems -  in this case , slavery .  May God deliver Namibia  from self centered , self serving politicians  and give us true servants of the state who will  honour God and serve our people .

3. He persevered  in this matter  for 18 years !  May God help us  to persevere  in the things that really matter .  May God help us to persevere  in the true work of the Gospel in  Namibia .  Progress  does not come overnight , but with  persistence  and faith in God . That persistence is  fuelled by  the knowledge that   God's  truth   will prevail .

4. He had a right view  of man : Without going  the  way of the secular humanists , Wilberforce believed that all men were created in the image of God , and therefore had the right to be treated  with dignity  and respect!  May God help us  to see  mankind  through  His eyes - fallen image bearers ,  in need of  divine intervention ,  redeemed in Jesus Christ alone !  

 

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