A Gift Uncovered

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Our story is of a forgotten teacher and his very famous student. We pick up the tale up when young William was sent to a boys’ school in the port town of Hull, taught by Joseph Milner. Frail, tiny of frame, and cheerful, both the physical and personal nature of the seven-year-old instantly set him apart in a crowd of robust and boisterous boys. But peering even beyond these traits the keen eyes of his twenty-three-year-old teacher saw a hidden gift. History has lost the story of how Joseph first saw an oratory future in the lad, so we are left to our own imagination. Was it during an oral recitation? At recess in the school-yard? What we do have is that somewhere along the way Joseph began setting the little fellow at the front of the class as an oratory example before the other boys. Two hundred years later we stand in awe at the foreshadowing nature of this act. We laud seekers of treasure for their finds, yet Joseph Milner uncovered a gift that would fight for the liberty of thousands from the oppression. Enter the mind of this seven-year-old boy for a moment. His frail body could not break the chains with his muscle, his lack of royalty disqualified him for the throne, and his government duties chained him from galloping miles for evidence to convict the guilty. But he could speak. His musical voice could captivate an ear. He could be a voice for the speechless.



It turned out that the lad could also write. Seven years later as a young teen William would pen an essay on the horribleness of slavery, revealing his earliest interest in the abolishing. The rest of his life would prove to be stage-setting for his work. At twenty he was elected member of Parliament for Hull, at twenty-two he won the highly contested seat for Yorkshire, at twenty-eight came to faith in Christ – the only source for true, preserving love for our fellow man – and at twenty-nine he introduced his first of many bills calling for the abolition of the British Slave Trade. But it started with a teacher. A treasure-seeker hardly beyond boyhood himself to uncover a special gift and reveal its value to the seven-year-old owner.

Teachers of future Wilberforces, is there a gift, an ability in your child that it waiting to be mightily used of God? Don’t forget, we don’t remember a thing about young William’s grades or if he was acing factions at the age of eight. But we do remember him – and his teacher – for the gift that was uncovered and nurtured. What treasure are you seeking in your child that can be nurtured with a Joseph Milner hand?


Kenzi Knapp is a follower of Christ, homeschool graduate and student of history. A fourth generation Missourian she enjoys writing about daily life enrolled in Gods great course of faith and His story throughout the ages at her blog, Honey Rock Hills.

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).