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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Can History Repeat Itself?

Robert Raikes the Younger
"I searched for a man..who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I might not destroy it.."  Ezekiel 22:30

In the late 1700s a newspaper editor became very concerned about the crimes he reported. This editor was so civic-minded that he volunteered his services to reform imprisoned lawbreakers. His motives were pure, his efforts noteworthy. But he soon became frustrated at the negligible rate of reform he saw in the penal system. The crime rate continued to escalate. He was shocked at the crimes occurring in his own neighborhood. 

He couldn't ignore the nagging thought that there had to be a better way. Could the proverbial "ounce of prevention" be applied to this situation?

Thankfully, he didn't throw his hands up in despair and admit that he was helpless against the tide. What could one man possibly do?

One fact became brilliantly clear to him. He realized that vice could be better prevented than cured and that realization became his motto. What tools could he use to reshape the lives of young men headed down the wrong road? What force was powerful enough to literally change the society he lived in?

Without fanfare he gathered a group of young boys and hired a teacher, who taught them to read. At first they met in a private home but soon the group grew so large that schools had to be built. The book the children read was the Bible. The editor gave a twenty dollar gold coin to anyone who would memorize the book of Proverbs. When the children began learning this book, one chapter at a time, he watched with satisfaction as he saw their character being transformed. Twenty dollars was a lot of money in 1780 but Robert Raikes counted it a wise investment as he saw the changed lives.

The newspaper, The Gloucester Journal, carried reports of the classes, which reached 25 percent of the population by the year 1831. One man's inspiration launched the beginning of the Sunday School movement and occasioned the building of public schools in England.

Could this same Book be the answer for our society today? Can a return to simple, foundational truths be the lifeline that pulls our immoral, sinking ship back to the solid Rock of Ages? David said in the book of Psalms, "Your word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee." Dwight L. Moody wrote in the cover of his Bible, "This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book."

Hearing the news of our day its evident that not enough people are reading the right Book. Robert Raikes used it to change the moral climate of his day. I like his style. Rather than being a thermometer, which reflects its surroundings, he became a thermostat, which sets itself to change its environment. 

What about you? Will you ask God to show you someone you can reach? It is truly the only way to change the world; one by one.

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