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Writing in the Active Voice – Recent Times in Church History

February 15th, 2021

Writers often find themselves writing in the passive voice, thus over using “to be” verbs like: am, is, are, was, were, be, being, and been. Avoiding this makes our writing come alive because we must use active verbs. When you find a sentence with a “to be” verb, ask yourself who did the action. For instance, “Bob was told to stop the car immediately. Who did the telling? This sentence does not tell us, but the writer probably knows. Possibly, “His dad told Bob to stop the car immediately.” To use a more precise action verb: “His dad yelled, “Bob, stop the car now!” In this way, the writer expresses a warning of some danger.

Further, writers find it helpful to have a writer’s handbook and a thesaurus (synonym dictionary) that lists action verbs from which to choose. Concise words like “galloped” or “sauntered” give more details than “ran” or “walked.” In this way, the writer paints a picture in the mind of the reader.

Trial and Triumph – Stories in Church History by Richard Hannula provides excellent mini-biographies from Church History. Student writers may begin writing paragraphs using these as prompts.

Charles Spurgeon – Prince of Preachers – 1834-1892

At the age of nine years, Charles Spurgeon overheard his grandfather, a pastor, pray for a wayward church member. Young Charles went to the tavern where this wayward man was drinking away his earnings. This nine-year old, went in and shamed the man, saying that he was grieving his pastor and dishonoring God. Though initially angry, this man repented to God and then asked forgiveness from his pastor. Even with God using him at age nine, Charles did not respond personally to the gospel until, as a 15-year-old, he heard a preacher quote the Scripture, “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” He began preaching at the age of sixteen and soon many gathered to hear the boy preacher. Spurgeon pastored a small church in Waterbeach, England. Later, at New Park Street Baptist Church in London eventually thousands gathered to hear him preach. Others warned him of “controversy” but he held to the truth of God’s Word as the pastor of this church until he died at the age of 57.

C.S.”Jack” Lewis -Chronicler of Narnia – 1898-1963

Clive Staples Lewis entered this world in Belfast, Ireland in 1898. At four years, he decided he preferred, “Jacksie.” From then on, everyone called him Jack. Jack and Warren, his older brother and best friend enjoyed many adventures together. Further, they read many of the books that filled the home and created imaginative stories. Before Jack turned ten years old, their mother died of cancer. His father sent him to a boarding school in England for many lonely years. Later, he won a scholarship to Oxford College, a very prestigious school. About that time he decided that he did not believe that God existed. Therefore, he called himself an atheist. At Oxford, he debated Christians who presented him with historical and logical reasons to believe. God worked in his heart and he believed. As a single professor at Oxford, he hosted children sent from London during World War II. During that stay, his guests wanted to investigate a closet. That incident led to the writing of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the other books in the Chronicles of Narnia. He also gained notoriety when he delivered a series of radio talks on the Christian faith. Lewis’ books continue to educate and entertain readers with more than 50 million in print in various languages.

Richard Wurmbrand – Tortured for Christ – 1908-2001

As the communists took over Romania, Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand sat in a church meeting. Richard served as a Lutheran pastor. Sabina told him to stand up and speak the truth. He responded saying that if he did, she would lose her husband. Her response indicated that she preferred losing her husband to having a coward as a husband. He rose to speak. Communists broke in and arrested him. For eight and a half years they imprisoned and tortured him. They failed in getting him to implicate others in the Christian movement and to get him to take a high-ranking job as a pastor in a Communist protected church. Even one of his interrogators believed in Christ and helped the prisoners until he, too, suffered for Christ in prison. Abruptly, they released him forbidding him to preach. Since he believed he must obey God instead of man, he and his family began working in the underground church. After two years of freedom, they arrested him again. When they released him after five more years, the church leaders encouraged Richard and his family to go the West to let people know of the persecuted church. Wurmbrand did exactly that by founding the Voice of the Martyrs which now has offices and work around the world.

Maggie Dail offers online services through Unlocking Learning Potential and Family Academy Online. She and her husband, Ronnie, make their home in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The Center is affiliated with Academy Northwest and Family Academy. They homeschooled two foster sons and have worked with homeschooling families for over 20 years. Maggie earned her M.A. in Special Education in 1989 and has taught for nearly 40 years.