Maria Dyer was born in 1837 on the mission field in China where her parents were pioneer missionaries. Both her parents died when Maria was a little girl, and she was sent back to England to be raised by an uncle. The loss of her parents, however, did not deter her young heart from the importance of sharing the gospel. At age sixteen she, along with her sister, returned to China to work in a girl’s school as a missionary herself. Five years later, she married Hudson Taylor, a man well-known today for his life of ministry, faith, and sacrifice.
Abraham Lincoln won the presidency of a divided country. There were four major candidates in 1860, and Lincoln only narrowly received his electoral majority. Among his harshest critics was Edwin Stanton of Ohio who opposed Lincoln’s election, calling him among other things the “original gorilla.” Yet Lincoln asked Stanton to serve as Secretary of War, recognizing his organizational skills were greatly needed for the war effort. When Lincoln was assassinated, Stanton said, “There lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen.”
When he was appointed as the pastor a church in Cambridge, England, in 1783 Charles Simeon was delighted. The people of the church did not share his joy. Many of the prominent members of the church opposed his convictions on reaching the lost with the gospel.
The story is told of two men riding a tandem bicycle up a steep hill. After much effort, they finally made it to the top of the hill. The front rider said, “That was a tough ride.” To which the second rider replied, “Sure was, and if I hadn’t kept the brake on we might have slipped backwards.”
In 2011 an eighty-four-year-old man named Henry Morello was driving north of Phoenix, Arizona, when he realized he was heading the wrong direction. When he tried to turn around he got stuck in a ditch. Unable to walk to the main road to get help, he spent five days trapped in his car. To stay alive he took a rock and cracked open the wiper fluid container in his car and drank the fluid. He even read his car manual in its entirety to pass the time. After he was rescued, doctors were amazed to find him in such good condition.
On January 13, 2012, the massive Costa Concordia cruise ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew on board was sailing off the coast of Italy on a tour of the Mediterranean Sea. The captain deviated from his planned course and the ship struck a reef near the shore. After taking on water for a while, the ship began to sink. Abandoning his duty to the passengers and crew, Captain Francesco Schettino left the ship instead of remaining to make sure everyone could be rescued.
Samuel Morse was born into a preacher’s home in New England just two years after George Washington was elected the first president of the United States. After finishing his education at Yale, he went to England to hone his painting skill. Upon his return to America he was recognized as a gifted artist and was soon in much demand. Morse’s first wife died while he was away from home painting in Washington, D.C. He did not receive the news until it was too late.
In one of Aesop’s Fables, a donkey walking through the woods finds the skin of a lion. Hunters had killed the lion and left the skin to dry in the sun. The donkey put on the lion’s skin and was delighted to discover that all the other animals were terrified of him and ran away when he appeared. Rejoicing in his newfound respect, the donkey brayed his happiness—only to give himself away by his voice. The moral of the fable was clear: fine clothes may disguise, but silly words will disclose a fool.