Missionary to China who Ran an Olympic Race of Faithby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
As the race began it was obvious that Eric Liddell was overmatched. Now the crowd in the Olympian Stadium hushed as this runner from Scotland refused to be passed. As Eric crossed the finish line, the crowd exploded into applause heard all over Paris. Eric Liddell had done the impossible. He had set a new world record! Eric's refusal earlier in the week to run on Sunday in the Olympic 100-meter race had stunned the world. Now his incredible victory in the 400-meter race further strengthened his belief in God's promise," He who honors me, I will honor." Years later, Eric Liddell would be tested far beyond mere physical ability as a missionary to China. His character, perseverance, and endurance are a challenging example for all who would obey the call to bring the gospel to the nations.
Eric Henry Liddell was born on the 16th of January 1902 in Tientsin, North China. He was the second son of the Rev & Mrs. James Dunlop Liddell who were missionaries with the London Mission Society to China. As a young laddy Eric, with his older brother Rob, were left at a boarding school while their parents and sister Jenny returned to China. There is where he basically spent his youth. After that Eric In 1920, Eric joined his brother Rob at Edinburgh University to read for a BSc in Pure Science. He graduated after the Paris Olympiad in 1924. Athletics and rugby had always played a large part in Eric's University life. He loved to run and play rugby. He ran in the 100 yards and the 220 yards for Edinburgh University and later for Scotland. He played rugby for Edinburgh University and in 1922 played in seven Scottish Internationals with A. L. Gracie. But since he was a busy man he did not having enough time to play both sports so he chose running. He chose running over rugby aiming for the 100 meters in the Paris Olympics.
But when he got to Paris, and the Olympics, his 100 meter race was going to be run on a Sunday. Eric refused to run on Sunday since it was the Sabbath. So he disqualified himself from the finals, and put Britain's hope of a medal in jeopardy as well. In Britain people were raving mad and very disappointed in him because he was the favorite to win the 100 meters race and he wasn't going to run it. Instead Eric was going to run the 400-meter race, a race he wasn't even prepared for or had even trained for. He was criticized and mocked by people in the streets, shops, and diners. So with arms thrashing, head bobbing and tilted, legs dancing, Eric ran to victory, five meters ahead of the silver medalist. "The Flying Scotsman" had a gold metal and a world record, 47.6 seconds. Most important of all, Eric Liddell had kept his commitment to his convictions of faith.
After the Olympics and his graduation he returned to North China where he served as a missionary from 1925 to 1943. Upon landing in China, on his first furlough, he began to preach in the church services a there realized that his Chinese was almost forgotten. Therefore he sat down and began his studies with earnest. After that he went back home for a while. Then he came back to China in full force and began his missionary work harder than before. But as he worked he got struck with illness and got very sick. The doctors told him to settle down and take a break put he insisted on working. In the end his illness caught up with him and killed him in 1945.
Eric Liddell ran, spoke, and lived with great faithfulness and solid commitment to Christ. The movie, Chariots Of Fire, chronicled his faith, influencing yet another generation for Jesus Christ. You do not have to be famous or skilled to make a difference for Christ. God asks only that you serve Him faithfully and wholeheartedly in whatever you do. God has "appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain" (John 15:16). Honor God in all you do, and He will honor your obedience with a life that counts for eternity. "Complete surrender" to Christ is total victory.