Book Reviews

Book Review: The Man Who Couldn’t be Stopped

This is a riveting children’s book which will also inspire adults. It is the rags-to-riches story of John Welch (1568-1622), John Knox’s son-in-law and one of Scotland’s greatest preachers. Like Jonathan Edwards, who lived many years later, John Welch preached, and seemed to cause the very building to shake as sinners were moved with Holy Spirit conviction and regenerating power. That power was very obviously the Lord Himself at work, and continued to characterize Welch’s ministry right up until his last sermon when he had to be physically carried into and out of the pulpit because of bodily weakness. That night, there was a shaking in the meeting hall for the last time.

John Welch was born into a wealthy family and his father, a laird, was a stern, but godly man. As a teenager, John chafed under the strict government of the home, so one night he ran away and joined a band of thieves who were plundering on the border between Scotland and England. During this time, John sank low into poverty. Like the prodigal, he determined to escape the gang and return home. A great spiritual change had taken place in John’s heart. No doubt his parents’ prayers for him were answered in his wonderful conversion, and soon John began preparing for the gospel ministry in the Presbyterian church. John became a real man of prayer with an intimate walk with God.

Early in his ministry, John married Elizabeth, the youngest daughter of the great Reformer John Knox. The Lord not only used John mightily in ministry, but also in civil duties. During his ministry in the Scottish town of Ayr, God led John to save that city from the dreaded plague by refusing to let merchants enter the gates, even though they had proper certification. The next city entered by those same merchants perished by the plague.

Because of John’s daring boldness to stand for the truth, he was incarcerated in the prison tower of Blackness Castle. Soon after, he was exiled from Scotland to France by King James VI. James thought he had silenced John’s preaching voice, but in just fourteen weeks John was preaching to the French Huguenots in the walled city of St. Jean d’Angely. He even taught a seminary class from his own home in that city. John Welch led his French city to a military victory over the French King Louis XIII’s army, who made John his personal chaplain because of his courage to preach even when forbidden by the king’s commandment.

Above all, Dr. John Welch spent long hours in prayer. His walk with the Lord brought him great answers to prayer like the time John continued to pray for one of his students, who rallied with life and health even after local doctors had pronounced him dead! On another occasion, a Roman Catholic friar stayed in the Welch home. At some point in the night, John began his normal prayer vigil which lasted for hours. At first, the friar concluded that John was conversing with the devil until he realized that he was praying to the Almighty. The poor Romanist had never heard such praying in all his life. When John explained his own salvation and new life in Christ the friar came to know the Lord Jesus Christ, and like the Ethiopian eunuch went on his way rejoicing.

Sometime later, John Welch and his family were sent back to England. By this time, John was physically worn out and weak, but he still wanted to preach. In the year 1622, John Welch preached his final sermon to a large assembly in London, before going home to be with His Lord at age 52.

The author of The Man Who Couldn’t be Stopped is famous children’s writer Mrs. Ethel Barrett who gleaned all of the historical facts from Scots Worthies by John Howie. Her tremendous talent for storytelling will prove much more enjoyable than reading this book review. It is a must-read for

Christians of all ages because of its challenge to stand for Christ in an evil day and learn to pray as John Welch did so that we may see God’s power unleashed in our generation.

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