Remembering Scottish Missionary Eric Henry Liddell, Chinese Missionary Mobilization Conference Kicks off

A picture shows Eric Henry Liddell winning an Olympic gold medal of the 400 meters in Pari of France in 1924.
A picture shows Eric Henry Liddell winning an Olympic gold medal of the 400 meters in Pari of France in 1924.
By Christine Lau January 9th, 2023

The 2022 Year End Chinese Missionary Mobilization Conference to commemorate Olympian Eric Liddell was held virtually.

Co-hosted by Chicago Chinese Servant Leadership Center and Global Servant Leadership Revival Platform, the meeting was conducted on December 26-30, with the theme “Press on Toward the Goal to Win the Prize from Christ”.

It was co-organized by Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Malaysia Bible Seminary, Mandarin Christian Fellowship in Metaverse, LifePlus Online Academy, Led Road Luoshang Platform, and New Heart Music Ministries.

Lasting for five consecutive days with one keynote lecture and two mobilization workshops each day, the conference covered seven areas of revival movements, including cross-cultural church planting, online digital application, meta-universe, business as mission, education mission, family worship, hymn creation, and Jewish ecological home. It also featured a metaverse space.

The convention invited some world-renowned speakers, including Francis Chan (an American Protestant author who founded Eternity Bible College in 2004), Rev. Manchild Yu (founder of Rutgers Community Christian Church), Dr. Jason Lim Jit Fong (principal of Malaysia Bible Seminary), and Dr. Chan Kei Thong (president of Leadership Development International). They shared how Christians discovered their destiny, set up the goal, ran to the end, and got rewards in heaven. 

During the opening ceremony held on December 26, Dr. Evan Joseph Liu, founder of Chinese Servant Leadership in Chicago, was invited to share a lecture themed "Looking at the Significance of Citizenship in God’s Kingdom to the Mission from the Book of Revelation in the Light of Eric Liddell", sharing the dual identity of Christians.

Dr. Evan Liu, professor of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and John Maxwell certified coach, specializes in theological education and mission training.

Dr. Liu reveals the dual citizenship of a Christian— a leader and priest.

"Leaders have authority." Dr. Liu said, "The Greek term for 'church' is Ecclesia, which means a called-out assembly. The church itself has authority over the world of the dead."

"And evangelism is facing spiritual resistance, just as John 1:5 says, 'The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it'. The Great Commission God entrusted us requires us to release the slaves captured by darkness with authority and bring them into the kingdom of God."

"Mission is a spiritual warfare." Dr. Liu emphasized, "The gospel has a transformational impact on the secular culture."

When facing battles, we must learn to use the authority given by the Lord Jesus. In this regard, Liu narrated the saving story of Eric Liddell, who accepted challenges from the sports and political circles with his citizenship of the kingdom of heaven, showing his loyalty to Christ.

Born in Tianjin in China in 1902 with his parents as missionaries in the country, Liddell died at the age of 43 in Weihsien Camp Prison Camp (the Courtyard of the Happy Way) in 1945, a few months before the end of World War II. Showcasing his sports talent from an early age, he became a professional sprinter. Selected to represent Great Britain at the Paris 1924 Olympics in France, Liddell abandoned the men's 100m preliminary round and the 4x100 meters relay which were held on Sunday afternoon, as he insisted on attending the Sunday service.

Dr. Liu said, "Liddell confronted others’ persuasion of changing his position with his status and authority as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Facing the British princes, marquis, and dukes, he firmly stated that he would be loyal to God. So he hit the mark with authority and the Spirit."

Eric won the bronze medal in the next 200-meter dash and set a world record in the 400-meter race that his teammate set but he was not good at. He became the first Jew to win an Olympic gold medal in the 400 meters.

On July 3, 1925, after graduation, Eric gave up his privileged life in the UK and the aura of an Olympic champion, returning to his birthplace of Tianjin to serve as a teacher for nearly 20 years. He taught and did some mission work in the Tientsin Anglo-Chinese College set up by a British missionary.

At the same time, Liu said that Christians were also priests who were called to sanctify themselves and serve humbly with the essence of the culture discarding the dross. Jesus came for the first time as a priest and servant preaching God’s gospel with humble and self-sacrificing love.

The Christian leader said, "The Great Commission is not against society, but a transformation of society."

Learning that Liddell was imprisoned in the Courtyard of the Happy Way, the then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had been looking for an opportunity to rescue him and bring him back to Britain. In the end, the Japanese and British agreed upon a prisoner exchange, with Eric on the list of the first batch of persons to be exchanged. While his health was deteriorating, he changed his name to a pregnant woman without any hesitation.

The British did not learn of the news of Liddell's death in Weihsien Camp until the liberation. The Times reported that "Scotland lost a great son who made each one proud of him every moment of his life." Anne, the nurse who took care of Eric when he was dying, came to China again two years after World War II as she was moved by him and the blood of the martyrs continued to be the seeds of Chinese Christians.

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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