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Eric Liddell

By Elise Wixtrom, Kids of Courage Student Reviewer

Eric Liddell was raised in China by Scottish parents until the age of six, when he went off to boarding school in England with his younger brother. He attended the school, called Eltham College, until graduation.

Liddell was born to be a runner. His parents knew how fast he was from the time he could walk. After graduation, Liddell trained to race at a world-class level. His reputation grew until he made Great Britain’s Olympic team in 1924. He went to Paris with his colleagues to compete in the 100-meter run. Everyone was excited for him, and Scotland believed that he was a worthy representation of their country’s athletic ability. His event was highly anticipated.

There was just one problem. The 100-meter race was due to take place on a Sunday, and Eric Liddell was a Christian. Though many Christians nowadays play sports on Sunday, at that time devout believers did not work or play on the Sabbath. So Liddell disqualified himself from the event in order to make a point about his faith. Though he felt he was doing the right thing, many people did not. In fact, British newspapers began publishing articles that called him a traitor and a disgrace.

Instead of his running in his usual race, Eric ran in the 200-meter and 400-meter races, which were not on Sunday. They had never been his best events, but they allowed him to both compete and honor God with his time. He surprised the world with a gold medal and a new world record in the 400-meter event, and a bronze medal in the 200. Again he was a national hero.

However, Liddell did not continue racing. Instead, he turned to missionary work.

Liddell returned to China to finish the work that his parents had started so many years before. While he was in China, the Japanese army attacked the compound where he worked and taught. Liddell was captured by the Japanese and forced to go to an internment camp, where he eventually died.

Even though Liddell died before he could see the effect of his actions on the Chinese people, through his legacy, many generations of Chinese Christians have known God. Because Eric Liddell gave up his passion, he was able to advance the gospel in a land that was foreign to him. He felt and followed God’s calling even when it was inconvenient.

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