Seventy-five years ago, famed Scottish religious missionary and Olympic sports hero Eric Liddell died in a Japanese internment camp in Weixian, China, in February 1945.
With the 2020 Olympics in Japan fast approaching, perhaps it is time to remember Liddell’s story. The son of Presbyterian/Congregational missionary parents in China, Eric grew up deeply religious. He had many gifts, both as an outstanding athlete (runner) and as an articulate and powerful evangelist.
At the 1924 Olympics in Paris, there was a display of Liddell’s Christian values. Scottish runner Eric Liddell had been a favourite for the 100-meter race. Observing the fourth Commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy,” Eric withdrew from the race because heats (qualifying races) were held on a Sunday. The British Olympic Committee then switched Liddell to the 400-meter competition, where the qualifying races were not on a Sunday. On that fateful Sunday of the 100-meter heats, Eric Liddell preached at the Scots Presbyterian Kirk (Church) in Paris.
When the 400-meter race was held, Eric won the gold medal and set a world record.
The story was retold in the 1981 Oscar-winning film, “Chariots of Fire.” Eric Liddell would go to China as missionary in 1925 and serve until his death.
Today’s post was written by Benjamin Basham, fellow at PHC.