I read this book over a period of about three days. It was just that good. Like a mini history lesson combined with an inspirational sermon, They Were Christians by Cristobal Krusen was both motivating and informative. It reads like a collection of short stories, each one standing on their own. The author has such a talent for storytelling that I felt drawn into the lives of each of these people, but he also has obviously done extensive research on each of the subjects. Including well known historical figures such as Frederick Douglass, Florence Nightingale, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Dickens as well as the lesser known Dag Hammarskjold, Jen-Henri Dunant and Chiune Sugihara this book truly serves to convince the reader that absolutely anyone can make a significant contribution to the world if only they will commit their lives and hearts to the cause of Christ.
I had just finished reading “Letters to a Birmingham Jail” before I read this book, so the account of Frederick Douglass was particularly moving to me, though ALL of the stories in this book were extremely well written and affected me deeply.
Each chapter begins and ends with the author’s own stories and thoughts on each of the men and women of faith. His thoughts after the story of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. were particularly poignant and it was obvious that he was personally inspired by the story of Charles Dickens.
They Were Christians is filled with stories of regular people who faced enormous obstacles yet, with a foundation of faith in Christ, overcame those obstacles and went on to make an incredible impact on the world. Stories of perseverance, faithfulness, love, kindness and sacrifice. Stories like how Charles Dickens wrote out The Life of Our Lord specifically to teach his kids and grandkids about Jesus. Or how John D. Rockefeller, Sr. gave away half of his fortune and started multiple schools, hospitals and churches all over the world. Or how Florence Nightingale was willing to give up a life of luxury and excess to pursue her passion for taking care of the ill and suffering, ultimately pioneering a new standard in nursing and contributing greatly to the field of medicine as a whole. It is impossible to read this book and not be inspired to stand up, step out and faithfully pursue your own God-given task in this world.
Some of my favorite quotables from this book:
“Slowly the truth began to permeate Fyodor’s soul – all men are equally men; all men are made in the image of a loving God. The goal of universal brotherhood is not to be attained by class warfare but by mutual love and forgiveness.” (chapter on Fyodor Dostoyevsky, pg 101)
From the chapter on Abraham Lincoln, regarding his thoughts about the Bible: “It seems to me that nothing short of infinite wisdom could by any possibility have devised and given to man this excellent and perfect moral code. It is suited to men in all conditions of life, and includes all the duties they owe to their Creator, to themselves, and to their fellow man.” (p131)
From the chapter on Joseph Lister and Louis Pasteur:
A quote from Louis Pasteur: “One does not ask of one who suffers: What is your country and what is your religion? One merely says: You suffer, that is enough for me.” (p145)
The author’s thoughts on Lister and Pasteur: “They were individually gifted by God and uniquely motivated by his Spirit to work for the common good. All of us can be forever thankful for the tenacity they displayed, the discoveries they shared, and the indelible and life-changing contributions they made in this world.” (p160)
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Baker Books Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.