When he was a teenager John Newton, best known as the author of that beautiful hymn, Amazing Grace, ran away from home in order to become a sailor. His mother began to receive distressing reports about her son, who was growing into a very wicked man. However as she bent over her washtub, day after day, lifting her anguished heart to Yahweh, she believed in two things, the power of prayer and the reformation of John.
In 1748 during a violent storm John cried out to Yahweh for mercy and his life was transformed. John, the drunken sailor, became John the righteous preacher, and saw thousands brought to Yahshua. One of these was Thomas Scott, a cultured, selfish, self-satisfied man, whose life was transformed to became a channel for thousands more to find Messiah.
One of these was the poet William Cowper, who composed the hymn, ‘There is a fountain filled with blood,’ during its singing thousands more were led to the Man of Calvary. Among these was William Wilberforce, the righteous statesman who was so influential in the abolition of the slave trade. Wilberforce led Legh Richmond to the Saviour, who later wrote, ‘The Dairyman’s Daughter’ a book of personal stories that was translated into forty languages and became the touchstone for an untold number of people being saved.
When I was a child, to explain the importance of small things, my mother taught me the well-known nursery rhyme, ‘For want of a nail the shoe was lost.’ It popped into my head as I thought about the effect of Mrs Newton’s faithfulness and I marvelled at how it turns this nursery rhyme down-side up! What a woman! To use another analogy her prayer was like a pebble cast into a pond, its ripples moving ever outwards as generations of us continue to be blessed.