This week I was invited to speak at the Scottish Story telling Centre on the royal mile in Edinburgh. Through its partnership with the Scottish Storytelling Forum, the centre supports a national network of storytellers. It is involved in outreach projects with local authorities, environmental agencies, community centres and libaries, engaging with all age groups and diverse cultures of modern Scotland and providing opportunities for the socially and educationally excluded to take part in community-based inclusive cultural experiences.
As the flagship of the network, the centre strives to reinforce Scotland's vigorous contribution to a world-wide revival of interest in storytelling and story-telling traditions.
The centre highlights the fact that 'Storytelling happens when the story is told live without print or technology'. I had none and found myself facing an overflowing crowd from four Edinburgh schools with many of them sitting around my feet on the stage. There is no audience in the world that let's you know how you are doing like an audience of Children. My story was about the freedom fighter himself, William Wilberforce.
I traced Wilberforces life through his childhood to University where he wasted a lot of precious time. I spoke of the influence of the Rev. John Newton upon Wilberforce's life where he approached him for advice as an young MP. I spoke of his desire to trust and follow Jesus Christ and how he became the conscience of the the nation in his formidable and horrendously despised campaign to abolish slavery. The Children listened closely as I told them that the United Nations now tells that there is more slavery in our world than in Wilberforces day. I encouraged them with the fact that maybe one of them could get involved in helping to rid the world of slavery.
The story ended and I went upstairs to engage with the children. They crowded me and one girl stuck her head through the crowd. 'I have two questions' she said 'one: could Wilberforce be a woman? Two: Could one person change the world?'
My, the things children ask! Could Wilberforce be a woman? certainly. Can one person change the world? I would say 'One person cannot change the world but you can change the world for one person.'
The World can then be changed one person at a time!
-- Derick Bingham (author), Thought for the weekend, Belfast Telegraph, published here with the kind permission of the Belfast Telegraph (Was the teaching pastor at Christchurch, Belfast)
William Wilberforce, the leader of the campaign for the abolition of the slave trade, was a devoted Evangelical Christian. His spiritual journals between 1785 and 1833 open a window on the inward life of this public man. He was frank, self-critical and conscious of his constant dependence on the God of mercy. Michael McMullen has transcribed all the journals and added helpful explanatory notes so as to make this detailed record of Wilberforce's Christian journey available for the first time.
-- David Bebbington (Professor of History, University of Stirling, Stirling)
William Wilberforce recorded many intimate details about his spiritual life, and thanks to Michael McMullen's painstaking work, many of them are published here for the first time. This book is an inestimable treasure - it draws back the curtain on Wilberforce's struggles and rejoicings in his own words as he wrestled both with himself and all that God had called him to be and do.
-- Eric Metaxas (Author of Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery and host of the nationally syndicated Eric Metaxas Radio Show)
A story deserving to be told to a new generation.
-- Rt. Hon. Tony Blair, Former Prime Minister
The abolition of slavery in the U.K. has an anniversary in the year 2007. This is why teachers, sunday school teachers and children's workers should make sure they stock up on Wilberforce material in the run up to this. A film on Wilberforce's life is also being launched in 2006. Make the most of these events and get Christian books into children's homes on the back of them!
-- Catherine Mackenzie, Children's Editor (Author and CF4K Editor)
... It is great to see the stories of these Christian heroes made available to older children and teenagers.
-- Liz Baines- Together with Children
Wilberforce has fascinated and confused biographers and historians for centuries - how did this hilarious, spontaneous, chaotic and conspicuously gracious man change the world? Christians have delighted in his attachment to their gospel and have hoped that the silver stream of world-changing inspiration was divine. And now at last, in these pages, Wilberforce can speak for himself - and the conclusion is luminous: Jesus Christ once said that people would be fruitful as they abide in him. In these pages we see a man, an undeniably fruitful man, abiding in Christ. Believers will find a brother travelling the path that they have known, and will be inspired to press on, rejoicing by faith in the One who brings fruit into sight. I can't think of a more thrilling or important publication from the last ten years.
-- Ben Virgo (Director, Christian Heritage London)