William Newell, born in the 1800’s, has had an impact on my life. He was a prodigal whose father did not give up on him. His pastor father pleaded his cause to Dr. R A Torrey to allow William to enroll at Moody Bible Institute. Dr. Torrey pointed out that MBI was a school not a reformatory, but after laying out some rigid restrictions he took William as a project and did finally see great gains in the young man’s life.
Included in the demands made on William was that he check into Dr. Torrey’s office daily. Perhaps it was only to say hello but it illustrates to me the importance of one’s being accountable to some authority who was interested enough in them to give them a part of their day every day.
It worked. William became a Christian, completed his education and even returned to become a part of the faculty at MBI.
William decided to put his testimony in poem form which was immediately set to music; that is the form in which it reached me. After listening three times through on You Tube, my heart is stirred by the Holy Spirit, who directed the writing of “At Calvary” about 120 years ago—a song whose words echo pathos and victory through the years. “Mercy there was great, and grace was free; pardon there was multiplied to me. There my burdened soul found liberty, At Calvary.”
A wonderful story of God’s promise to “work all things together for good,” I wonder if William and his father have been able to rejoice in this victory of a father who endured much and did not give up in obtaining help for his prodigal. And also the man who willingly invited him to be a part of his day. Imagine what it would be for a “prodigal” student to be invited to come by the principal’s office every day even when he was good!
A few years days ago, I stopped by an assisted living place and met a lady who invited me in for a chat. Her husband was gone at the time – gone to the jail to see about their beloved grandson who was walking the way of the prodigal. Wish I had had this story to tell her.
(I compiled this biological information from several online sources.)