Beginnings - Amazing Grace
Newton was just 18 when he was captured and
press ganged into the Royal Navy. Like many
young men forced to work on the ships he hated
life in the Navy and attempted to run away while
in port. He was caught, stripped to the waist,
tied to a grate and flogged in front of the
Newton eventually recovered and managed to
transfer to another Navy ship but again ran into
problems. He did not get on with the ship crew
and they abandoned him into the hands of a cruel
slave trader off West Africa where he was badly
Newton eventually escaped but having been
hardened by his experiences and knowing little
else but the life at sea, he joined the slave
Newton had a wake up call off the west coast of
Ireland when his ship hit a big storm and almost
sank. He woke in the middle of the night to find
the ship filling with water. He prayed for
perhaps the first time in his life. The cargo
shifted and stopped up the hole and amazingly
the ship survived. Newton later wrote that this
experience marked the beginning of a change in
his heart. He began to think about his life more
critically. He began to read the bible.
he grew uneasy about the slave trade. He grew
increasingly uneasy that his actions were
causing misery for so many. A second wake up
call came when sick with fever off the coast of
Africa, he again cried out to God to help him.
Newton experienced the transforming power of
God. He left the slave trade and became a tide
surveyor for the Port of Liverpool.
In his spare time Newton studied Greek and
Hebrew and eventually became a church minister.
More than most people, he had a very real sense
of his own guilt, his own wrong doing, and more
than most he had an awareness of the tremendous
unstinting generosity of God.
on his life, Newton sought to capture the
goodness of God in a hymn. “Amazing grace, How
sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”
The hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ was first sung on New
Year's Day in 1773. It remained in obscurity for
about eighty years but finally came to the
attention of the wider public.
of Newton’s life and the words of this hymn
remind us that with God there is always the
opportunity for a fresh beginning.
article was originally published in Life Blog,
(c) July 2015 Spirit
Radio, Ireland. Used with permission.
is the CEO for Spirit
Radio, a national Christian radio
station for Ireland online and also on am
and fm. Originally from New Zealand, Rob
moved to Dublin in 1987 and has worked
extensively in Christian leadership and is
a regular conference speaker. Rob and his
wife Anne are members of Nazareth
Community in Dublin. They have six