Our passions can often be channeled for God’s glory. Wilfred Grenfell developed three loves, the first being sports. He swam in cold rivers and sailed the Irish Sea. At 18 he found another passion when a doctor showed him a human brain chemically preserved. Grenfell decided at once to become a physician.

While in medical school, he developed his third love. Passing a large tent one evening, he ducked in, thinking it a circus. It was a revival meeting, and an aged man was droning on in prayer. Grenfell started to leave when another man leaped up and announced a hymn “while our brother continues his prayer.” The man, D. L. Moody, proceeded to preach so effectively that Grenfell was converted on the spot. He had found his third love—the Lord.

Those passions—sports, medicine, and God—led Grenfell to volunteer with an organization called Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. The mission sponsored a mercy ship that ministered to thousands living on boats and along the North Atlantic coastline. The work spread to Newfoundland, and on August 4, 1892, Grenfell sailed into the waters of Labrador to begin a lifetime of ministry.

Grenfell soon saw that two hospitals were needed there, an onshore clinic for coastal residents and a floating hospital for fishing fleets. He raised money, established the hospitals, and the work soon included numerous hospitals and dispensaries throughout the cold, bitter land. He started schools and orphanages for the young. He organized cooperative stores for Labradorians to barter their furs and fish for supplies. He spent his life sailing along northern shores and traveling by dogsled across frozen landscapes, caring for the sick, teaching the young, preaching the gospel. His whole life was a glorious indulgence in his three loves.

He found a fourth love as well. One day aboard a ship he met a beautiful woman, a total stranger, fell violently in love with her, and proposed without even asking her name. She accepted. The two ministered side by side for the rest of their lives.

Trust the Lord and live right!
The land will be yours, and you will be safe.
Do what the Lord wants, And he will give you your heart’s desire.
(Psalm 37:3,4)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). August 4.

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