Last night I was listening to one of Charles Swindoll's better broadcasts where he tells the story of Mephibosheth. This incident is embedded in the story of King David's life in the Bible. "M" was a handicapped son of a royal rival family which had earlier fled the palace, fearing assasination. There are literally dozens of analogies between this man's story and the story of a gracious God who helps people who have no hope. A perfect picture of "grace."
Swindoll was at his most eloquent in his teaching of this point, and just as he reached a climax, I heard the strong melody and harmony--then the words in English-- of "Amazing Grace." But it was not on my earphones. It was being boomed over the loudspeaker in the gymnasium area, where hundreds of Thai kids were noisily enjoying evening sports and exercise.
The music was even louder than my little iPod earphones, and I stopped in my tracks. The combination of hearing 'M's' story and this traditional gospel hymn being publicly broadcast--in remote northeast Thailand, no less--left me a bit stunned.
I felt like shouting to the crowd: "Hey everybody! Stop and listen! Do you know what those words are all about??" I wanted to tell them about John Newton, the composer, who had once commanded England's slave ships filled with hopeless souls bound for a life of servitude in the New World--until God changed his heart and turned him 180 degrees. I wanted to tell them about a shepherd Who looks for lost sheep on the dark mountain when all hope of rescue is gone.
I will, in time, one by one...
The throngs of students unwittingly carried on with their basketball, volleyball, weightlifting, breakdancing and fencing practice throughout the song, no one lifting an ear nor eyebrow to the profound words and music that permeated the air around them. I have no idea who or for what reason the hymn was sent over the university campus P.A. system.
Regardless, I know at least one person caught the full impact.
Below, watch and listen to the history and words of "Amazing Grace,"
as told and sung by a possible descendant of John Newton's slave-prisoners...
You can read the about Mephibosheth and his story here.