WHERE ARE THE BIBLE LOVING WORLD LEADERS?
M. J. Jacob
History unfolds to us touching scenes from the lives of Christian world leaders who impacted the world. Today, Bible loving leaders are vanishing from the scene. It is sad to see the dwindling faith in some of the present world leaders. Remembrance of the stalwarts of faith of the past inspires us and infuses faith in us. Let us have a glance at the lives of some of the past world leaders.
Great Britain's Queen Victoria was a godly woman filled with the love of God. We know of her love for ordinary and downtrodden people. During the seasons she spent in Scotland, she used to make friends with ordinary people. During one season, when it was time for her to return to England, she went out and said goodbye to her friends. A lady who took pride in having friendship with the Queen, anxious about the Queen's soul, asked the Queen, "May I ask your Majesty a question?" The Queen replied, "Yes, as many as you want." Then the lady asked, "Will your Majesty meet me in Heaven?" The queen replied, "Yes, by the all availing blood of Jesus, I will." Marvellous faith!
There is another story. Years ago while an African Prince was visiting England, he inquired of Queen Victoria concerning her country's greatness. In reply, she did not turn to a map and point out the vast extent of her empire, nor did she recount the achievements of her national heroes, though she might have had much to say. Instead, she handed him a Bible and said, "Herein lies the success of England."
Gladstone was called the Bible loving Prime Minister of Great Britain. During one season, while resorting in Aberdeen Castle in Scotland, when Gladstone was facing a grievous problem in his government, a close friend visited him. Gladstone took him to all the rooms of the palatial building and finally led his friend to his bed room. A visibly moved Gladstone pointed out to the wall hanger and told him, "Here lies my greatest comfort." It was, "Underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deut.33:27). Gladstone had an upward look. One night while he was busy preparing a speech to be delivered to the Parliament next day, he had a call from a worried woman. She requested Gladstone to visit her dying boy to help him to find the Saviour during his last hours. Gladstone hurried to her home and sat near the dying boy for a long time and helped him to find the Saviour before he passed away.
Most people respect Abraham Lincoln as the greatest of all Presidents of the United States. He was a God-fearing, prayerful man with undaunted faith, a great leader who loved the Word of God. M. P. K. Kutty (Light of Life Nov. 2009) has stated what Lincoln said about the Bible, "I have to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Saviour gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it, we could not know right from wrong. All things that are most desirable for man's welfare, here and hereafter, are all to be found portrayed in it."
I have read another story in Christian Herald. The Bible Lincoln used during the American Civil War is still kept in Lincoln's museum in Washington, DC. If we carefully look into this Bible, we can see at one place that the margin is slightly torn, and near a particular verse the edges have become thin. It is, "I sought the Lord and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears" (Psa.34:4). Abraham Lincoln had looked, meditated, and derived strength and courage from this verse. It is certain, during the Civil War he would have often looked into this verse and derived comfort and strength.
Another favourite verse of Lincoln was, "Except the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who builds it" (Psa.127:1). The famous line quoted by Abraham Lincoln reverberates even today.
William McKingsley, a former President of the United States had been an advocate in his early days. He soon rose to become a Governor and eventually the President. However, he disciplined himself to visit his mother regularly and spend time with her even amidst his busiest schedules as President. He delighted to walk to church with his mother. And when illness and age caught up with her, he was in constant touch, enquiring frequently about her condition. He had arranged for a special train to start at a moment's notice, should the need so arise. An emergency call came through one day that his mother was very nigh to death. He rushed and reached his dying mother in time to place her on his lap when she breathed her last. He realised with gratitude that his mother had been responsible for developing his character and for all the success in his life. Years later, when he was shot by an assailant and lay fatally wounded, he experienced neither enmity nor hatred to his foes. He died singing the song his mother had taught him in childhood, "Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee."
Harry Truman tells that after the sudden and lamented death of President Roosevelt, he found himself President of the United States. It was an awful thought. The war was still going on and he felt unprepared for his gigantic task. But he said he prayed that God would give him strength and wisdom for the days ahead. He said, "As I entered the White House car, I noticed Tony Vaccaro, Capitol Hill correspondent for the Associated Press, as he stood on the kerb. I told him to hop in and three of us (ie., including Hugh Fulton) drove to the White House together. In our conversation, I remember saying that few men in history equalled the one in whose shoes I was stepping and I silently prayed to God that I could measure up to the task." Truman believed prayer undoubtedly worked, and prayer turned the tide of events in human life, in political and economical crises. He understood what James said, "A good man's prayer is powerful and effective."
Field Marshal Viscount Alenbrooke tells of his appointment as Chief of Imperial General Staff. Winston Churchill, then Prime Minister, invited him to chequers. Here are Lord Alenbrooke's own words. "I can remember clearly that after he had taken me away to his study and offered me this appointment, he left me alone temporarily to join the others. I am not an exceptionally religious person, but I am not ashamed to confess that as soon as he was out of the room, my first impulse was to kneel down and pray to God for guidance and support in the task I had undertaken. As I look back at the years that followed, I can now see clearly how well this prayer was answered." It is a remarkable testimony from one of the ablest soldiers the British Army has ever had the privilege to have, and it was a noble decision. "My first impulse was to kneel down and pray…" Let us pray for the world leaders that the Lord may open their eyes to the Living Christ.