In my interview with the author of The Final Race, he shares how God changed his course from one continent to another. There, in China, he met the love of his life and walked the ways of his longtime hero, Eric Liddell. [Tweet that!]
Eric, when did God first call you to teach English in China? Did Eric Liddell’s story inspire you?
I was working in New York at the time and preparing for overseas mission work with my denomination. I was interested in Germany, but there were no slots available. They suggested China, which did not appeal to me at all.
Over time, I began to fall in love with the idea of serving in China. Then, last minute, an opportunity in Germany opened up! All of a sudden, I had a tough choice to make.
During that deliberation, I remembered Liddell was a missionary in China, and that comforted me. I asked the mission board where they would most like to place me. “China,” they said. “Then send me to China,” I responded.
Tell us about your tour of Eric’s old haunts. What struck you the most as you quite literally followed in his footsteps?
I spent time with his daughters in Toronto and trotted around one of the fields where he used to race track meets. His niece also gave me a personal tour of his church and other places in Edinburgh, Scotland.
But I would say the most powerful episode was standing in the very hospital where he died in Wei Fang, China. I had come to the end of his story, and I knew I wanted to do something about it.
How did Eric’s three daughters respond when you reached out to them? How did you first get in touch with them?
I emailed them via the leadership at the Eric Liddell Centre in Edinburgh. Eventually, I visited them in Toronto and have kept in touch with updates over the years.
At first, they were skeptical of my motivations and protective. Many “like me” had irritated them in the past. They warmed up soon enough, and, to my delight, have given exceedingly positive reports of what I’ve written.
How did you meet your wife, Kara? In what ways is your love story like Liddell’s? In what ways is it unlike his?
Aside from meeting in China, I would say we both had to endure long seasons apart from each other. It was a bittersweet blossom of romance.
Do you ever plan to return to China? If so, in what capacity?
Kara and I have led one mission team to China since. Eventually, we would love to share the experience with our children. Beyond that, I’ll let God decide. He knows where to find me.
Stay tuned for our final interview where we’ll discuss the movie version he’s working on with Howie Klausner! Subscribe to my blog at the top or right side of this page, so you won’t miss it!