Eric Liddell is best known as the topic of the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire where he wins the gold medal in the men’s 400 meters at the 1924 Summer Olympics. But, the part of Liddell’s life covered in Chariots of Fire encompasses only the first 1/3rd of this book. The remaining 2/3rds of the book chronicle Liddell’s work as a missionary in China for the final 18 years of his life.
Liddell’s early years in China can best be described and relatively comfortable. As a single man he taught, coached and discipled mostly in English at affluent schools. Eric knew little Chinese, but his celebrity and character allowed him access to the hearts and souls of many young men.
The middle years of Liddell’s service in China saw him become an ordained minister and accept greater responsibility in the school. In addition, this is when he courted his wife and started a family.
At the tail end of Liddell’s time in China World War II was in full swing, with the Japanese occupying much of China. While most westerners and missionaries left China for safer regions Liddell stayed behind, continued his work and remained separated from his family for years at a time. His sacrifice and struggles during this period were astonishing.
In Chinese, the word “crisis” combines the characters of danger and opportunity. This best describes Liddell’s later years in China. One word stands out from all others as the key to knowing God, to having his peace and assurance in your heart; it is “obedience”. This was a word that Eric Liddell lived by.