A monument in Westminster Abbey honors a man, born on April 16, 1786, whose grave has never been found. He was an Englishman who shipped to sea at age 15 with Admiral Nelson. He survived the Battle of Copenhagen then returned to England only to leave again, this time on a voyage to chart Australia. He next joined the Battle of Trafalgar, then the attack on New Orleans repulsed by General Andrew Jackson.

His name was John Franklin, and six years after the attack on New Orleans he joined an expedition trying to cross the Polar Sea. He fell in love with Arctic exploration, and when the ships were forced to return to England, he joined another expedition to chart the northern coasts of Canada.

John was blessed with optimism and never allowed himself to sink into depression or loneliness. Everyone he met became his friend. His secret, he said, was Christ. “If a man should inquire ‘How can I be saved?’ ” he wrote his sister from an ice-bound camp, “would it not be joy for him to find that the gospel points the way? Christ who died for the salvation of sinners is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

One of his crew wrote, “He is quite a bishop! We have church morning and evening on Sunday. The men say they would rather have him than half the parsons of England.”

On May 19, 1845, he sailed from England to look for the Northwest Passage and to explore the Arctic. Two cheering letters came from him, then news ceased. Years passed, and the fate of John Franklin was unknown to family or country. His wife spent a fortune searching for him. Finally, a boat was found frozen in the north. In it were two skeletons and Sir John Franklin’s Bible. Psalm 139:9,10 was underlined: If I … dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me (KJV).

John Franklin has since been credited with discovering the Northwest Passage, and his Arctic explorations resulted in his being knighted and given an honorary degree from Oxford.

You notice everything I do and everywhere I go. Suppose I had wings like the dawning day And flew across the ocean. Even then your powerful arm Would guide and protect me. (Psalm 139:3,9,10)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day: 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). April 16.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

304 – The Christians of Saragossa, Spain, undergo severe persecution as troops of the Roman prefect Dacian kill eighteen men. Others who die around this time are Encratis, a woman who reproached Dacian to his face, for which he ordered tortures so severe that her liver was pulled partway out of her chest. During persecution that same year, all Christians are ordered out of the city. As they arrive at the city gates, Dacian’s troops slaughter everyone.

1796 – The death of Molly Brant (Konwatsi’tsiaienni), an influential Mohawk woman,  who, because of her Christian faith and her loyalty to Great Britain, is commemorated in the Anglican Church calendar.

1944Dorothy Ahleman feels a call to missions at an evening missions service on the campus of Olivet Nazarene College. She will go to Argentina where she will serve for thirty-seven years.

1986 –  A police force of approximately 600 members attacked a large crowd of Coptic Christians who were standing outside Saint Demiana Coptic Church. They were watching the appearance of the Virgin Mary. The attack resulted in injuries to some women and children. After this event had occurred, the Egyptian government refused to allow the Copts to stand outside of the church.

2005 – Burial of Daniel OyeLakin Ige, an influential member of Nigeria’s Christ Apostolic Church. His devotion had won his family to Christ. Because he lacked much education, he used his practical skills to roof hundreds of buildings for his church and started an organization to minister to the needy.

Accessed ChristianHistoryInstitute.org 15 April 2022.

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