John Newton was a militant atheist, bully and blasphemer. He was a wild and angry young man. He was press-ganged into the Navy at the age of eighteen where he broke the rules so recklessly that he was publicly flogged for desertion. He was hated and feared by his crewmates and himself became a slave trader.
At the age of twenty-three, Newton’s ship encountered a severe storm off the coast of Donegal and almost sank. He called out to God as the ship filled with water and on that day, 10 March 1748, God rescued him. He began a new life. He started to pray and read the Bible.
Eventually he joined William Wilberforce in the campaign to abolish the slave trade and became a leading light in that campaign. Newton is best known as the author of the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’: *Amazing grace! How sweet the sound* *That saved a wretch like me!* *I once was lost but now I’m found,* *Was blind, but now I see.*
To be *rescued* is to be *saved*, set free, delivered from danger, attack or harm. Jesus is the one who rescues you and brings you into ‘a spacious place’ (2 Samuel 22:20).
And that’s the memo.
By Nicky Gumbel
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