Some Amazing People

Who am I? 

I was born in 1725, and I died 1807. The only godly  influence in my life, as far back as I can remember, was my mother,  whom I had for only seven years. When she left my life through  death, I was virtually an orphan. My father remarried, sent me to a  strict military school, where the severity of discipline almost  broke my back. I couldn't stand it any longer, and I left in  rebellion at age of ten. One year later, deciding that I would  never enter formal education again, I became a seaman apprentice,  hoping somehow to step into my father's trade and learn at least  the ability to skillfully navigate a ship. 

By and by, through a process of time, I slowly gave myself over to  the devil. And I determined that I would sin to my fill without  restraint, now that the righteous lamp of my life had gone out. I  did that until my days in the military service, where again  discipline worked hard against me, but I further rebelled. My  spirit would not break, and I became increasingly more and more a  rebel. Because of a number of things that I disagreed with in the  military, I finally deserted, only to be captured like a common  criminal and beaten publicly several times. 

After enduring the punishment, I again fled. I entertained thoughts  of suicide on my way to Africa, deciding that would be the place I  could get farthest from anyone that knew me. And again I made a  pact with the devil to live for him. 

Somehow, through a process of events, I got in touch with a  Portuguese slave trader, and I lived in his home. His wife, who was  brimming with hostility, took a lot of out on me. She beat me, and  I ate like a dog on the floor of the home. If I refused to do that,  she would whip me with a lash. 

I fled penniless, owning only the clothes on my back, to the  shoreline of Africa where I built a fire, hoping to attract a ship  that was passing by. The skipper thought that I had gold or slaves  or ivory to sell and was surprised because I was a skilled  navigator. And it was there that I virtually lived for a long  period of time. It was a slave ship. It was not uncommon for as  many as six hundred blacks from Africa to be in the hold of the  ship, down below, being taken to America. 

 I went through all sorts of narrow escapes with death only a  hairbreadth away on a number of occasions. One time I opened some  crates of rum and got everybody on the crew drunk. The skipper, incensed with my actions, beat me, threw me down below, and I lived  on stale bread and sour vegetables for an unendurable amount of  time. He brought me above to beat me again, and I fell overboard.  Because I couldn't swim, he harpooned me to get me back on the  ship. And I lived with the scar in my side, big enough for me to  put my fist into, until the day of my death. 

 On board, I was inflamed with fever. I was enraged with the  humiliation. A storm broke out, and I wound up again in the hold of  the ship, down among the pumps. To keep the ship afloat, I worked  along as a servant of the slaves. There, bruised and confused,  bleeding, diseased, I was the epitome of the degenerate man. I  remembered the words of my mother. I cried out to God, the only way  I knew, calling upon His grace and His mercy to deliver me, and  upon His son to save me. The only glimmer of light I would find was  in a crack in the ship in the floor above me, and I looked up to it  and screamed for help. God heard me. 

Thirty-one years passed, I married a childhood sweetheart. I entered  the ministry. In every place that I served, rooms had to be added  to the building to handle the crowds that came to hear the gospel  that was presented and the story of God's grace in my life. 

My tombstone above my head reads, "Born 1725, died 1807. A clerk,  once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was  by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, preserved,  restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he once long  labored to destroy." 

I decided before my death to put my life's story in verse. And that  verse has become a hymn. 

My name? John Newton. 
The hymn? "Amazing Grace."



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