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
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
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
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.
Gold is much more than that. It is the story of a very common, yet unique, man ―
Eric Liddell. From Liddell's birth in
was not only a great athlete; he was also a remarkable educator. Coming to
"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.
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.
story he often told us in concentration camp illustrates his values. From the
grandstands, Eric watched athletes from the
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.
disturbances and dangers of the War of Resistance made teaching in
long courtship with
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.
pressure of the Japanese occupation in
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
cared for his students at the
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
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
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.
Liddell was a Scot with a heart for
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.
1941, to protect his pregnant wife Flo and their two
daughters from the unpredictable dangers of Japanese occupation, Eric sent them
by ship to
"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.
Liddell never was a student or teacher at the
"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