“Do it with the strength God provides.” 1Pe 4:11 NIV
William Wilberforce grew up as a child of privilege, attending Cambridge University. Two weeks after his twenty-first birthday he was elected to Parliament, where he became a brilliant orator and politician. Then he met John Newton, author of the hymn “Amazing Grace.” A former slave ship captain, Newton had found Christ, repented of his old life and become a minister. Upon meeting Newton, seeds were sown in Wilberforce’s heart that were destined to change history. In 1787, Wilberforce initiated a campaign to make Great Britain aware of the atrocities of slavery and vote for its abolition. It was a fierce fight. Besides politicians and industrialists, religious leaders who had their own slaves opposed him. From his deathbed John Wesley wrote to Wilberforce: “If God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O, be not weary in well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of His might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.” Wilberforce persevered because he knew what was at stake: the lives of millions of people. Finally, on February 23, 1807, the Slave Trade Act outlawing traffic in slaves was passed in the House of Commons by a vote of 283 to 16. Twenty-six years later, near the end of Wilberforce’s life, slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire. Shortly thereafter, it was abolished in the United States. How did it happen? Because one man decided to live by the principle, “Through love serve one another” (Gal 5:13 NKJV).