The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and it won four of them... but Chariots of Fire was just the beginning of Eric Liddell’s emotional heart-wrenching story. We have come to know him as the Olympian who refused to run on Sunday, switching from the 100m race to the 400m and victoriously winning the gold. He became Scotland’s hero, and his faith was truly inspirational.
Though his Olympic feats were remarkable, arguably the most emotional and inspirational parts of LIddell’s life didn’t take place until after the Olympics. His family had worked in China as missionaries during the boxer rebellion, and following the 1924 Olympics, Eric returned to North China. He taught Chemistry and organized sports to Chinese boys until being ordained as a minister in 1932. In 1934, at the age of 32, Eric married Florence Mackenzie, the daughter of Canadian missionaries in Tientsin, China. They would have three daughters together.
As World War II was heating up in China, the family faced increasing danger throughout the later part of 1930’s, and Eric’s travels had him crossing the Japanese army lines. Both the Communist and Nationalist forces in China were quite hostile to missionary work at the time. Following the Japanese invasion of China in 1940, the British government advised citizens to leave. Liddell arranged for his wife and two children (as well as one on the way) to leave for Canada to stay with her parents, and he stayed behind to continue his much-needed work in the villages who were experiencing so much hardship.
LIddell was soon sent by the Japanese to an internment camp, along with 1800 others. At the camp, he continued his work much like he did in the villages. It was clear that LIddell was still a leader and an inspiration to those around him.
By 1944, it was obvious that Liddell’s health was fading. He himself attributed the cause to a nervous breakdown caused by overwork. What no one knew is that he had a large brain tumor on the left side of his brain. On February 21st, 1945, Eric Liddell laid back surrounded by friends at the internment camp, and uttered the words “It is surrender” just before passing away.
Absolute Surrender is the story of Eric LIddell after Chariots of Fire. It is the remarkable journey of an extraordinary man whose race was just the beginning, and whose end was truly... absolute surrender.