Think a minute… In England during the 1700’s, it was fairly common for boys to spend several months in boarding school before heading out to sea.
And so it was for John. He was 11-years-old when his father, a master of a trade ship in the Mediterranean, took John on the journey with him.
This prepared John for his service in the British Navy. Yet sadly, while John learned his skills of sailing from his father, he did not learn self-control and discipline. John was soon arrested, publicly whipped and demoted to just a common sailor for deserting his duty on ship.
Later, while still a teenager, John sailed on a ship bound for Africa. By now young John was wilder than ever. He did not choose his friends wisely and continued to sink deeper into immoral living.
In Africa John ended up in the service of a slave dealer. The slave trade attracted John as a profitable business and way to get rich; but before he knew it John was put to work on the dealer’s plantation laboring with the other slaves.
Finally at age 21 John escaped on a ship called the Greyhound, where he continued his uncontrolled living. He again chose the wrong friends who made fun of the God-worshipping sailors on board, including the captain.
One night John’s ship, the Greyhound, was caught in a violent storm. The boat’s side caved in and it began to sink as the water came flooding in. One of the sailors yelled, “We’re all going to die!” At that moment, for the first time in John’s life, he prayed and cried out to God: “Lord have mercy on us!” Amazingly, the ship did not sink! John never forgot it.
In fact, God’s mercy that night in the storm not only saved John, but so completely changed him for the rest of his life that he wrote a song about it which is sung by millions around the world today: “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found—was blind, but now I see!”
John Newton’s song and story can become yours too, because God is offering His full and free grace to you today. Won’t you ask Jesus to forgive you for your wrong heart and sinful living? If you give Him complete charge of your heart and life, He can start changing you into the man or woman He created you to be.
Just think a minute…