The Story of John Newton
“He was such a rogue and then to be able to write the song he did, speaks to God’s amazing grace.”
“You gave the story such humor and such well researched details of his life. It was wonderful.”
“Every time I sing that song now, it (his story) will all come flooding back to me. Thank you.”
“It was incredible how you brought some of his writings to life for us. It was a gripping story.”
The Story of John Newton
LENGTH: 50 minutes
(Performed since 2016)
The true story behind one of North America’s favorite hymns
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8 &9
“Amazing Grace” is one of the most popular and recognized hymns of the 20th and 21st Centuries. People have sung it at weddings and funerals, in hospital rooms and in prison cells. It’s been sung by gospel singers and rock ‘n roll stars. God’s grace is what softens the hardest of hearts and heals the most broken of souls. We all need reminding that God intervenes in our lives, not because we deserve it, but because of his goodness.
My drama, AMAZING GRACE, is based on the true story of how John Newton (1725-1807) went from being ‘lost to found’. Though raised by a godly mother, John Newton was a rebellious, blaspheming wretch that ridiculed God and all those who called themselves a Christian. He was also involved in the most cruel, yet lucrative business of the 18th Century – the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
In spite of all of this the Lord answered his mothers prayers. John survived a storm at sea and ‘many dangers, toils and snares’ to finally encounter the grace of God.
However, for nine years he would ship slaves from West Africa to the West Indies or the Americas, even as he prayed and read his Bible! Slavery was a normal part of British culture.
He heard that great Methodist, John Wesley, preach against it and Newton’s conscience was finally pricked. He came to see, through Scripture, that God created all people equal and we are all equally in need of His grace.
“I hope it will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me that I was once an active instrument in a business a which my heart now shudders.” John Newton
Newton would eventually become one of many outspoken advocates against slavery. In fact, he used the journals he kept as a slave ship captain to write a pamphlet that helped Parliament, and the people of Britain understand the horrors of the trade.
As the Lord slowly transformed John Newton’s heart, he had many opportunities to share his testimony in churches. He began to feel that, perhaps, the Lord was calling him to ministry, in the Anglican church.
John Newton became a much sought after Anglican minister, hymn writer and also a mentor to William Wilberforce and many other leading evangelicals.
His story, told from the perspective of his wife, Mary, will help audiences see how patient the Lord is in drawing us to Himself. A great way to introduce non-believers to the goodness of God!
Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come;
Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures:
He will my shield and portion be as long as life endures.
SPECIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: This drama couldn’t have been properly researched and written without Jonathan Aitken’s book, John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace and William E. Phipps book, Amazing Grace in John Newton.
THEMES: GOD’S GRACE (HIS UNMERITED FAVOR AT WORK IN AND THROUGH US), SALVATION, HOPE, REPENTANCE, ENCOURAGEMENT FOR PASTORS, BELIEVING GOD FOR OTHERS, IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER, GOD’S LOVE FOR ALL PEOPLE.