The Scotsman Eric Liddell is best remembered for his sporting accomplishments from the 1981 film that dramatized them, Chariots of Fire.However, his record-breaking performance in the 1924 Olympics was not his only achievement. Locked up in a Japanese internment camp during the Second World War, Liddell once again showed his incredible strength of character.
Liddell was an incredible athlete, but his passion was the gospel. One year after winning his gold medal he returned to China as a Missionary. In 1943 he was interned in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Conditions were harsh. Food supplies were limited. The people already there when Liddell arrived were emaciated. Strict rules and twice-a-day roll-calls kept the prisoners in order. Within the camp, the detainees time was largely their own. Liddell took a key part in organizing things, creating a school, entertainment, church meetings, and even something like a hospital. Freedom had been taken away, hunger and thirst was a daily experience, but life went on.
In caring for others Liddell continued his missionary work in the harshest of conditions. Guided by his religious principles, he preached the word of God and provided counseling to those he saw as in his care. He continued for nearly two years, keeping alive the hopes of those around him. Then, in early 1945, he became sick with a brain tumor. It developed quickly. There was nothing that could be done given the facilities of the camp.
But Liddell did two things: One, he asked his friends to sing his favorite hymn for him before he died, ‘ be still my soul, a hymn of faith when overcome with hardships and facing death - words set to the evocative tune Finlandia by Sibelius, a disconcerting yet comforting melody, a tune off sadness yet filled with th