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 A Little Known Missionary to China

Many of us are familiar with the stories of William Cary and Jim Elliot. Below is the story of a missionary that is not as well-known. And yet he died in the service of his Lord. Indeed this man below was a man of conviction I hope you'll be edified reading his story.


Eric Liddell - Olympic Athlete and Missionary to China
January 05, 2015
Eric Liddell Olympic Athlete

About Eric Liddell

Eric Liddell is most widely known for his refusal to run on Sunday in the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. A committed Christian, Liddell withdrew from his strongest event, the 100 meters – a decision that would years later make him the subject of the Oscar-winning film "Chariots of Fire." As an alternative, Liddell registered to run in the 400 meters. Just moments before the race, an American handed him a piece of paper on which was written a passage from 1 Samuel 2:30, "Those who honour me I will honour." Liddell ran the race with the verse in his hand and claimed Olympic Gold and new world record with a time of 47.6 seconds. When Eric described his race plan, he said,

"The secret of my success over the 400 meters is that I run the first 200 meters as fast as I can. Then, for the second 200 meters, with God's help, I run faster."

Born in January of 1902, Eric Liddell's parents were Scottish missionaries working in northeastern China at the time of Eric's birth. For twelve years, Liddell attended Eltham College, a Christian boarding school, and then studied at Edinburgh University where he excelled in athletics, particularly short distance running, rugby, and cricket. In 1922 and 1923, Eric played for Scotland Rugby Union in the Five Nations. But it was his running that distinguished him as an athlete and after setting a British record for the 100-yard sprint in 1923, hopes were high for Eric’s strong showing in the 1924 Olympic Games.

Eric did not disappoint. After bringing Olympic glory to Scotland, however, Eric Liddell left success behind and returned to China where he taught Chemistry and organized sports at an all-boy school in Tientsin (now Tianjin). He married in 1934 and later began working as a village evangelist, travelling the countryside in Siao Chang, a dangerous region not suitable for his wife and two daughters who remained behind. Eric was frequently at risk from both hostile Communists and Chinese Nationalists who regularly pillaged and destroyed villages, neither group sympathetic to the work of a Christian missionary.

In 1940, the Japanese invaded China, and Eric's family joined his wife's parents in Canada. Subsequently, the situation in China deteriorated and Liddell was sent by the Japanese to an Internment Camp in Weihsien, in the province of Shantung, North China. Eric and 1,800 others, including many children, were crammed into a detainee camp measuring only 150 by 200 yards. Inside, Liddell organized sporting events, taught the children their studies and continued his evangelistic work, teaching Christianity and Bible study. It was in this Internment Camp where Eric Liddell documented his calling to obedience. Forty years later, the notes from these writings were obtained from his widow, Florence Liddell Hall, and compiled into the book, "The Disciplines of the Christian Life."

Just months before liberation, Eric Liddell died within the confines of the Internment Camp on February 21, 1945 from a large tumor on the left side of his brain – a condition he did not know he had. Eric dedicated his life to obedience to God's will and teaching others to live in accordance with the example Jesus established for his followers. Eric Liddell died serving the Lord. He never saw his third child, Maureen.

 2016/8/9 11:37

 Re: A Little Known Missionary to China.

We are all missionaries. Wherever we go we either bring people nearer to Christ or we repel them from Christ.

Eric Liddell

You will know as much of God, and only as much of God, as you are willing to put into practice.

Eric Liddell, The Disciplines Of The Christian Life

 2016/8/9 11:45

 Re: More Eric Liddel Quotes

Christ for the world, for the world needs Christ!

Eric Liddell

believe in God the Father, Almighty, Creator, infinitely holy and loving, who has a plan for the world, a plan for my life, and some daily work for me to do. I believe in Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, as Example, Lord, and Saviour. I believe in the Holy Spirit who is able to guide my life so that I may know God’s will; and I am prepared to allow him to guide and control my life. I believe in God’s law that I should love the Lord my God with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind, and with all my strength; and my neighbour as myself. I believe it is God’s will that the whole world should be without any barriers of race, colour, class, or anything else that breaks the spirit of fellowship. To believe means to believe with the mind and heart, to accept, and to act accordingly on that basis

Eric Liddel

 2016/8/9 11:59


In reading about this brother I'm reminded of C.T. Studd. I believe this brother like a successful career in sports to serve the Lord as a missionary in Africa.

Eric Liddell could have had fame and success in athletics. Yet he left success behind to serve his Lord and Master in China.

Very profound testimony to think about these two brothers above. They left the things of this world to seek the things above. Their hearts are all the things I did do it for eternity. That being the Word of God and the souls of men.

I believe it was CT Studd who said only one life will pass, but only what's done For Christ will last.

Truly these brothers have borne fruit that will last.

Lord Jesus grant that we may do the same.

 2016/8/9 12:08

Joined: 2006/11/26
Posts: 3466


Brother Blaine,

Thank you for sharing the story of this
amazing man.


 2016/8/10 4:44Profile

Joined: 2008/4/12
Posts: 1306
Hampshire, UK


There is an excellent documentary film on Eric. You can order the DVD or download from Vision Video here..

Well worth a watch as it has interviews with folk that knew him and his family.


 2016/8/10 6:09Profile

Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 5355


One of the mist sobering stories I heard about him is that while he was improsoned the latrines would often fill up and overflow and he would take it upon himself to mop and clean them out.

THAT is washing your brothers' feet.


 2016/8/10 7:44Profile

 Re: Extract From an Artcle About Eric Liddell

In March 1943, with Japan and Britain by then at war, Liddell and other foreigners were sent to a civilian, Japanese-run internment camp at Weihsien in the then Wei county (now Weifang in Shandong).

Originally an American mission, it had been stripped of everything. There was no running water or heating, and "primitive latrines overflowed with effluent".

Some 1,800 people - among them bank managers, coolies, nuns, prostitutes, Trappist monks, opium addicts, teachers and even four black American jazz musicians - were crammed into a space just 200 x 150 yards.

Despite the squalor and hardship, Liddell held true to his Christian ideals. Always cheerful, never bad-tempered, he was indefatigable.

He would lead religious services, teach maths and science, organise sports, pump water, "clean the filthy latrines", chop wood, take away rubbish and act as unofficial counsellor to anyone needing comfort.


The above article confirms what brother Todd shared. Truly this man was a servant of God.

What a crucified life this dear saint lived.

 2016/8/10 13:54

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