Cody comes to Whit's End, frustrated that he cannot come up with a topic for his school report on a famous person. Whit is behind the counter and agrees to help Cody, asking him when the report is due. When Cody replies that it was due today and yet his teacher wasn’t mad that he wasn’t finished, Whit tells him that his teacher showed him grace.
To illustrate God’s grace, Whit tells him the story of John Newton. John was born in England in 1725, the son of a captain in the British merchant fleet and became an experienced sailor by the time he was a teen. John was in love with a girl named Mary Catlett, who was a strong Christian. John’s mother was a devout Christian, but died when he was young, making John want nothing to do with Christianity. Mary was unwilling to commit to John for this reason. As they parted, Mary gave John a Bible to take with him when he went to sea.
While on an excursion, John was taken captive and pressed into service for the British Navy, where he served two years on a warship. When he discovered that he would not be allowed to leave the ship while it was in England, he tried to escape and was flogged. John eventually ended up on a slave ship, but prospered there, becoming captain of his own ship at the age of 23.
Though successful, John felt restless and began to read the Bible and other Christian books despite mocking from his crew. A huge storm hit his ship one day and John cried out to God for deliverance while tying himself to the ship’s wheel to steady it. After being delivered from the storm, John realized it was God who saved him and committed his life to Christ. Eventually he set his course for the Catlett home in Plymouth. Mary, who had been praying for John daily, happily agreed to marry him.
John later became the rector of an Anglican church in Olney and began writing poems and songs, including "Amazing Grace." Finally, he became a pastor in London, where he influenced William Wilberforce, who led the fight to end slavery in England. John died in 1807, at age 82.
Cody decides that this story is what he should write his report on and entitles it "Amazing Grace."
- Why couldn't Mary marry John Newton?
- What made John believe that there was a God?
- What's your favorite hymn to sing?
- Do you know the story behind it?
VERSION DIFFERENCE: [view] The album version added a number of conversations and scenes to this show:
- Lines are added in the scene with the captain, John, and the captain of the merchant ship and when Whit and Cody are talking about what happened to John.
- Whit's narrations are longer.
- The entire scene with Mary's father is included (and not even referenced in the broadcast version).
- The scene where John and his first mate talk about how bad of a man John is includes mention of drinking.
- The hymn at the end of the show is longer.
- This story was made into a Radio Theater production.
- During the storm scene in this episode, one of the slave ship sailors who has a Scottish accent like "Scotty" in Star Trek repeats one of Scotty's famous lines: "The ship can't take much more of this, captain!"
Choir: When we've been there ten thousand years/Bright shining as the sun/We've no less days to sing God's praise/Than when we've first begun!