Book of the Month - August
“William Wilberforce - A Hero for Humanity” by Kevin Belmonte
We are living in a time when it appears that man’s capacity to commit evil is growing. The news updates at every level are filled with all forms of violence, wickedness, immorality and decadence. The description of humanity appears to reflect the words of Genesis 6:5 and II Timothy 3:1-5. I praise God for His comforting words such as Psalm 37 and the fact that He is Sovereign over all the earth all the time. But I often wonder, “how do we live” or “what should we be doing” to live for Jesus as salt and light in this world, at this time.
Reading “William Wilberforce - A Hero for Humanity” by Kevin Belmonte served as a reminder that men who fear God shine like stars in the midst of darkness. Wilberforce is a name that modern history recognizes as the one individual who was instrumental in the abolishment of slavery from the British Empire and subsequently influencing America to outlaw this lucrative practice. For decades, Wilberforce, a member of parliament in England (PM), labored toward two great ends: 1) To abolish the slave trade and slavery itself within Great Britain and the British Empire, and 2) to change the decadent and decaying moral culture of his homeland. During his lifetime, Wilberforce was instrumental in developing and supporting at least 70 philanthropic initiatives including Bible translation work to other languages, support of faith missions to unreached peoples, advocate child labor laws, support the education of the blind and deaf, funding hospitals and schools, etc. All of this while his nation faced a long-standing conflict with France as well as the growing tide of rebellion within.
While there are many good reads that provide an overview of Wilberforce’s life and beliefs, such as “Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce” or “Roots of Endurance” by John Piper, “A Practical View of Christianity” by Wilberforce or the updated versions, “Real Christianity” by Bob Beltz or “Real Christianity - Discerning True and False Faith” by James Houston, I appreciated Kevin Belmonte’s research in probing deeply of a man whose feeble and diminishing physical stature would be used to confront the most powerful nation in the world (at that time) of her wicked practices while claiming to be a civilized society. What I liked about this book is the author’s ability to connect us the backdrop of what the nation was facing as well as the many important friends and foes whom Wilberforce constantly interfaced for counsel, for fellowship, for confrontation, and for support. One of the most important and ardent supporters was John Newton, who served as a pastor and wrote “Amazing Grace.” Newton’s personal exhortation to remain faithful as a PM was instrumental as Wilberforce struggled with constant opposition, disappointments & physical fatigue. Wilberforce was a gifted orator and early in his career, he used his skills to tear down many men and minds. However, Wilberforce was transformed through the understanding of the gospel and cites this “great change” to be instrumental in renewing his mind and tongue to serve Christ. The author notes how his skills to articulate and inform the public audience was the result of training his mind to uphold the belief that Scripture was the basis of his opinions and actions. According to friends and foes, Wilberforce was unique to focus on the topic of discussion without belittling the character of the person whom he had strong disagreements. Many found Wilberforce always seeking the goodness of men while confronting erroneous ideologies. His genuine love for his fellow man was evident to all that his legacy continues to have its impact today.
Reading this book served as a wonderful reminder of three important lessons - 1) immerse oneself with the reading of the Scriptures; 2) surround yourself with godly friendships; and 3) clothe yourself in humility - both in conduct and speech. God has not changed. His abiding grace enables humble men who love Christ to be ones who can influence men and kingdoms, now and forever. May the Lord raise forth more men like William Wilberforce from amongst us in order that more men may praise God for the deliverance of evil through Christ.