Dear Chefoo & Weihsien friends and colleagues;

This Monday, 21st, February will mark the 60th anniversary of our beloved
hero Eric Liddell's passing.

You will be interested to know that Pure Gold has been translated into
Chinese in advance of Beijing Olympics '08. The attached file gives the English
version of a Foreword I was asked to write for the Chinese edition..

I feel deeply indebted for the tremendous impact Eric had in my life. What a
model he was to so many of us in Weihsien! 60 years ago he passed the baton to

Your brother in His service,

James H. Taylor III


PURE GOLD ---- click here



The Eric Liddell I knew


         Eric Liddell was my hero long before the 1981 Academy Award winning movie, Chariots of Fire, brought him to the attention of the world. Interned together in the Japanese concentration camp in Shandong, Weifang, during the War of Resistance, I was mesmerized as "Uncle" Eric gathered us boys around and told us his stories. We sat spellbound, imagining his world record breaking 400 meter run in the 1924 Paris Olympics. He told us of the time a year earlier where he picked himself up after having been tripped by another runner, made up the time lost, pulled ahead at the last moment to win the race. We loved to hear him tell of the Dalian track meet in 1928. After winning the 400 meter race, he almost missed his boat back to Tianjin. Only a wave's pushing the boat back closer to the dock narrowed the space and allowed him to throw his bag aboard and leap onto the deck. We could see it all.


         With the Beijing Olympics coming in '08, Pure Gold is a great book for sports fans. It paints its pageantry in bronze, silver, and gold. Here the reader will find the excitement of international track competition - friendly rivalries, team work, sportsmanship, unfulfilled dreams, and broken records.


         Pure Gold is much more than that. It is the story of a very common, yet unique, man ― Eric Liddell. From Liddell's birth in Tianjin, the author traces his background and upbringing in China, Scotland and England in the turmoil of the first half of the 20th century. Eric was born two years after the Boxer Uprising. He and his close-knit family lived and suffered through the threat of rising Japanese aggression and the tumultuous years of the establishment of the Republic. He experienced danger and separation during World War I and World War II.


         Eric was not only a great athlete; he was also a remarkable educator. Coming to China barely 20 years after China's age-old Examination System ended, he taught mathematics and science at the Tientsin Anglo-Chinese College. After winning gold in Paris and glory and acclaim at the University of Edinburgh, Eric declared his philosophy of education. In Tianjin and in Weifang, it did not change. This is how he put it:


         "Athletics is part of educating the whole person. A man is composed of three parts ― mind, body, and soul, and only when we instruct each part in such a way that one is not overestimated, but each receives proper emphasis, we will get the finest and truest graduates from our University. As we realize that we not only have to store our minds with knowledge, but to educate our bodies for the strenuous life we must go through, and also remember that we are spirit as well, then we will send out graduates who are really worthy of taking their place in any part of life."


         Eric modelled this ideal in his own life. Deeply involved in running and rugby in university, he tied for first place in inorganic and physical chemistry. He led his church's youth program and taught Sunday school for poor children in the slums.


What made Eric Liddell great?


         Eric Liddell was real. In a day when students are concerned about corruption in government and immorality in society, here is a model to emulate, a man of integrity, principle, and unwavering spirit. He was prepared to sacrifice himself and his position for his convictions. Principles that are important for public life are equally important in personal life. In sports, in work, and in life, Eric said the end never justified the means.


         A story he often told us in concentration camp illustrates his values. From the grandstands, Eric watched athletes from the UK and the US compete in an obstacle race. The front runner knocked over a hurdle. This left the opportunity for the next runner to dash through the gap and gain an advantage. Instead, the man swerved to the side, jumped over a standing hurdle before moving back to the inside track. Eric never forgot the thrill that went through him, or the answering cheer that rose from the crowd." That was the finest thing done that day." he told us.


         Lord Sands in Edinburgh summed up Eric's philosophy of life in these words: "This young man put his whole career as a runner in the balance, and deemed it as small dust, compared to remaining true to his principles. There are greater issues in life than sport, and the greatest of these is loyalty to the great laws of the soul."


         Eric Liddell persevered. The ideals and standards Eric set for himself were made, not for the moment, but for life. Determination and perseverance marked his pursuit of excellence in sports, in education, in service to others, and in his religious faith. When another runner tripped Eric in the 440 yards event in the British Triangular International in 1923, he refused to let the setback determine the outcome of the race. With unwavering perseverance, he leapt back into the race, went for gold, and got it.


         The disturbances and dangers of the War of Resistance made teaching in Tianjin and serving the people in the countryside precarious if not downright life threatening. Yet he remained at his post when others chose the safer course and left. Even in concentration camp, when there were no textbooks to teach chemistry, he created his own teaching materials from memory.


         Eric's long courtship with Florence illustrates his perseverance. He knew that she was the one for him. He could wait.


         Eric Liddell was a humble man. Headlines trumpeted his triumphs, and people's voices shouted praises. "It would take a great deal of spiritual and emotional maturity for a 22-yearold Eric Liddell to cope with the kind of success that had turned men's hearts and tripped their feet since the beginning of time," says David McCasland. Eric kept his head.


         After the Olympics, when suddenly called upon to give an impromptu speech at St. Giles' Cathedral, he spoke quietly: "I hardly know what to say on this occasion because there are many here who deserve this just as much as I do."


         He recognized the enormous contribution his parents had in his life, his teachers had in his education, his coach had in his running, and his colleagues had in service together. He had no sense that God gave him a special blessing because he had refused to run on Sunday. God was gracious, but He is not obligated to give the gold in any of the world's contests to one who obeys His will.


         Under pressure of the Japanese occupation in Tianjin, Eric volunteered to buy bread for others who couldn't get to the market early enough. When a north China wind storm covered the floor and furniture with Gobi Desert dust, his host family found him up at 4:30 in the morning quietly cleaning the home. He had a true, humble servant spirit.


         Eric Liddell was a deeply caring person. In the midst of all the adulation after his 1924 Olympics and similar successes, he embraced those who had not won. Eric liked to quote the words he had seen engraved over the entrance of the University of Pennsylvania sports field: "In the dust of defeat as well as in the laurel of victory, there is glory to be found if one has done his best."


         He cared for his students at the Tianjin Anglo-Chinese College as though they were his own younger brothers. Eric always had time to listen to their concerns and to help in class work, sports, or other family matters. His students loved him.


         In the Weihsien concentration camp, Eric was like an uncle to those of us separated from our parents. Though he had taken a firm personal stand on not running on Sunday, he was willing to referee our Sunday afternoon games when he discovered fights breaking out between the teams. When he discovered that some of the older youth, children of Tianjin and Beijing business families, were holding sex parties, he gave his own free time to organize wholesome week night activities.


         Our headmaster shared a secret at Eric Liddell's memorial service in 1945. He had learned that "Uncle" Eric had planned to sell the gold watch presented to him by the City of Edinburgh in order to buy softball equipment for the camp's recreation program.


         Eric Liddell was a man of Faith. Though he was born into a devout Christian home and had attended church all his life, it was not until he was 21 that Eric decided to tell the Lord that he wanted to serve Him. That decision was sealed when he accepted an invitation to speak publicly for the first time to rough Scottish miners. There Eric personally encountered God and his pilgrimage of faith began. Up to that point Jesus Christ had been only an historical figure to be admired. Now He became his personal Saviour, guide and friend.


         Over the next 20 years that relationship was steadily deepened through regular study of the Bible, reflection, prayer and Christian fellowship. He was greatly helped by the Oxford Group and their emphasis in Bible study on reading accurately, interpreting honestly and applying drastically. The latter meant living each day by the Four Absolutes: absolute honesty, absolute purity, absolute unselfishness, and absolute love. This was the new standard Eric set for himself. He knew that to attain to such a standard in his own strength was impossible. This led Eric to a personal pursuit of the cleansing, filling and empowering of the Holy Spirit.


         In concentration camp, he loved to speak from the Sermon on the Mount and on the gifts of the Spirit. We boys sensed that these were not empty words. Uncle Eric modelled these ideals.


         Eric Liddell was a Scot with a heart for China. Eric was born in China and is buried in China. His body has become part of Chinese soil. As the author states: "At the peak of his athletic career with the world at his feet, 23-year-old Eric Liddell turned away from it all and set his face toward China." Why? The love of Christ constrained him.


         In 1937, he wrote from the Hebei countryside: "It is good for me that in a year of unprecedented hardship and suffering for the people, I should have been sent away from the city and ... should have been given ... an opportunity of seeing some of the hardest hit places." Eric gave himself to helping hungry people. He rescued wounded peasants and brought them to the Christian hospital for treatment. Why? The love of Christ constrained him.


         In 1941, to protect his pregnant wife Flo and their two daughters from the unpredictable dangers of Japanese occupation, Eric sent them by ship to Canada. He stayed on to teach and to serve the people. He knew the risk. He also understood the responsibility. Pure gold fears no fire. He gave this verse to others. It was also his resolve:


"I would be true, for there are those who trust me;

I would be pure, for there are those who care;

I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;

I would be brave, for there is much to dare."


How? The love of Christ constrained him.


         Eric Liddell never was a student or teacher at the China Inland Mission School in Chefoo, yet when his path joined ours in the Japanese concentration camp in Weihsien, he touched our lives. The closing verse of our school song summed up "Uncle" Eric's short 43 years:


"Plaudits of men we lightly appraise,

Set we a nobler aim ―

Ever to bring through the toil of our days

Glory to God's great Name.

Many the voices that ring in our ears,

Many the cries of need;

God give us grace in the coming years

His voice alone to heed."


James H. Taylor III

Hong Kong SAR