I have just finished reading a book called “John Newton - From disgrace to Amazing Grace” by Jonathan Aitken. Although I have heard of the transition from slave trader to hymn writer and full time pastor, I have never explored the detail of John Newton’s life story. This book is compiled largely from personal journal entries and also his written correspondence between himself and various other persons.
It is a story that is truly a testimony to God’s incredible power to save and also his power to transform a life. John Newton’s life prior to his meeting with Christ was an absolute disaster. He deserted from the Navy during war time. He was rebellious and insolent as a sailor. He ended up being held captive in Africa by locals who were participating in the slave trade. Eventually he became the captain of a slave ship himself where he was responsible for buying and transporting slaves from the coast of Africa to the West Indies. From these depths following his salvation, he rose to become a prominent church leader of his day eventually using his influence to assist William Wilberforce to abolish the slave trade.
It is a story of redemption and is characteristic of God who takes the worst of sinners and turns them into trophies of his grace.
1 Timothy 1: 15-16
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.