It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book’s FIRST chapter!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and her book:
Authentic (January 2, 2008)
Visit her at her website.
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Authentic (January 2, 2008)
Donned in a freshly powdered wig and crisp clerical robe, Reverend John Newton stood in the pulpit of London’s stately St. Mary Woolnoth Church. He looked old. Old and profoundly weary. Still, since precious few seafaring men survived to see the age of sixty-five, who could say whether it was his years that wore on him or just this day?
Wealthy tradesmen and upper-class businessmen, accompanied by their exquisitely dressed families, had arrived early, and with much fanfare, settled themselves in the forward pews—their pews. Further back, the “ordinary folk” squeezed in close together . . . shopkeepers and laborers and widows and such—the people the reverend held particularly close to his heart. Visitors packed in behind and between and around the regulars, and spilled out into the aisles and entryways. They came from all over London . . . indeed, from across England, and even as far away as Scotland. Every Sunday was the same when John Newton was in the pulpit.
Reverend Newton leaned forward, squinting to make out the individual faces of his flock. It was no use. The people he had grown to love so dearly appeared as little more than a collective blur. His eyes, always weak, had grown so dim he could barely read his sermon notes. Just as well, perhaps. This might not be the day to see faces clearly.
“You know me for what I am,” Reverend Newton began. “Not a person of mighty consequence . . . only a great sinner saved by God’s grace.”
Rustling in the pews. Eyebrows raised and glances exchanged. Whispers.
“Some of you are aware of the fact that a Slavery Abolition Bill has been sent to Parliament,” the reverend continued. “As I have intimate knowledge of the slave trade, my dear William Wilberforce has requested my testimony before a select parliamentary committee. I consider myself bound in conscience to answer this call . . . to wash my hands of the guilt which threatens to constitute a national sin, stained with crimson dye.”
The rustling stopped and whispers ceased. Silence fell over St. Mary’s. It was almost as if the cathedral itself was holding its breath.
With the slightest tremor of weariness, Reverend Newton continued: “Since I agreed to appear, I have received repeated threats from some who benefit most by the cursed trade. They say that if I insist on going through with my testimony, they will reveal to you, my dear parishioners and friends, the darkest evils of my own wretched past life. I will be publicly shamed and humiliated. Even forced from the ministry. They accuse me of being a hypocrite. Well, my friends, I can only say that I hope it will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me that I was once an instrument in this awful business at which my heart now shudders.”
An uneasy shuffling among those in the forward pews.
“Every age seems to have people who have made a habit of evil, who have had to look up in order to see the bottom,” said Reverend Newton. “Yet in the day of God’s power, they are saved and transformed. They become an example to other believers, giving them an opportunity to praise God for his amazing grace. I, my good people, was one of these. God saved me so that people would look at me and say, ‘If God could save John Newton, he can save anyone.’ Surely you can understand, then, that my silence at such a time as this would be criminal . . . even though my words come too late to prevent or repair the misery and horror to which I was an accessory.”
Many of those crowded into the church that morning owed their livelihoods—indeed, some great fortunes—to the slave trade. Of this fact, John Newton was well aware. Besides, these people worshipped in a respected cathedral of the Church of England, not in a meetinghouse of Quakers or, even worse, of Dissenters. Not in the expected haunts of evangelical rabble-rousers.
“Those of you who have read my publication, Narrative, must think you know me well. But had I given details of the wickedness of my heart and life, it would have been too shocking for my readers to bear.”
As Reverend Newton’s passion grew, a new strength and authority overtook him. His weariness fell off like a worn-out cloak.
“No, my dear friends!” he exclaimed. “You will not hear it from them! You will hear it from me. I will tell you my story. . . .”