His mother died when he was seven and he was raised by his father, a merchant navy captain who took him to sea at age 11. In his early twenties, he was on his way to a position as a slave master on a plantation in Jamaica when he was pressed into service in the British Navy. After trying to desert, he was caught and flogged and then released to a slave ship headed for West Africa. He described himself saying, "I sinned with a high hand and made it my study to tempt and seduce others."
Badly mistreated by the slave master's wife, he was rescued by a friend of his father looking for his missing son. On his voyage home when his ship was caught in a storm and almost sank, he prayed to God for deliverance. He survived the storm and began his journey of faith, but still went on to serve as captain of a number of slave ships, hoping as a Christian to be able to show restraint in the slave trading business.
When he retired from the sea, he remained in that business, but at the same time began to lead Bible studies in his home. He soon came under the influence of John Wesley and others and grew increasingly disgusted by the slave trade and his role in it. Soon after he cut all ties with slave trading and wrote a book, Thoughts Upon the African Slave Trade to help end the practice of slavery, "a business at which my heart now shudders," he wrote.
In 1764 he was ordained as an Anglican priest and began serving a congregation. Each week he would write a new hymn to a familiar tune including several still popular today. One of those hymns was "Amazing Grace," perhaps the most familiar and beloved hymn of all time. It tells the story of the grace of God transforming his life and leading him home.
This week I'll continue our worship series, "The Restoration Project" as together we take a look at the story of Jesus healing the blind man. It is the words of the blind man that Newton quotes in "Amazing Grace."
Both the blind man and John Newton are quite the examples of a "restoration project." Aren't we all!
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
Looking forward to worshiping with you Sunday!
Grace and Peace,
P.S. I also thought you might like to take a look at this article recently posted about Trinity's ministry through Faith Mission. Good things happening! ...and I am grateful for Ward Simonton and the leadership of Trinity in this ministry.