History Book: A grand national park turns 100

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, February 25th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book.

100 years ago this week, one of the seven natural wonders of the world is declared a U.S. National Park. Plus, 75 years ago, Corrie ten Boom and her family are arrested for harboring Jews.

EICHER: But first, the birth of a prolific Christian author, illustrator, and pastor—best known for asking the question: “What Would Jesus Do?” Here’s Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: We begin today with February 26th, 1857, the birthday of Congregational minister Charles Sheldon.

Sheldon was a proponent of temperance and the “social gospel.” While pastoring in Topeka, Kansas, he began a Sunday evening storytelling series to encourage his church to be more involved in solving the social problems of the day.

One of his most popular stories featured everyday people asking the simple question: “what would Jesus do?” A Chicago magazine published the complete story in book form in 1896:

WILSON: We propose to follow Jesus’ steps as closely and as literally as we believe He taught his disciples to do.

Audio from Larry Wilson, a LibraVox recording.

Sheldon famously applied the “What Would Jesus Do” motto in real life when he took over as editor of the Topeka Daily Capital newspaper for one week in 1900. He insisted on publishing “positive news” and eliminated advertisements for tobacco, alcohol, and patent medicine. Circulation numbers exploded nearly 20-fold during the week, but many of the advertisers that left didn’t return and the paper changed owners the next year.  

Over his lifetime, Sheldon illustrated many novels, including stories for G.A. Henty and Edward Price Bell. He wrote more than 50 books himself, but he’s best remembered for In His Steps—a book which has sold 50 million copies worldwide since its first publication.

WILSON: What is it to be a Christian? It is to imitate Jesus. It is to do as he would do. It is to walk in his steps…

Next, one hundred years ago this week:

RASSMUSSEN: Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives that there is hereby reserved and set apart as a public park for the benefit and enjoyment of the people, under the name of the “Grand Canyon National Park.”

Kim Rassmussen reading from the Congressional record and the act signed by President Woodrow Wilson on February 26th, 1919. The declaration set aside nearly 2 million square miles of land as a national park.

EDUCATIONAL FILM: The Grand Canyon of the Colorado, a titanic gash across the state of Arizona, never ceases to be an overwhelming spectacle.

Since the 1880’s, many attempted to protect the canyon from developers and power companies. It wasn’t until 1908, when President Theodore Roosevelt established it as a National Monument, that preservation efforts gathered steam. It took Congress more than a decade to finally declare it a National Park, protecting it for generations to come.

EDUCATIONAL FILM: Years would be required to really see the Grand Canyon and one lifetime would scarcely be adequate…

Last year, nearly 6.4 million people visited Grand Canyon National Park.

And finally, 75 years ago, February 28th 1944. Nazi soldiers ambush the home of a Dutch clockmaker suspected of harboring Jews. The event reenacted here in the 1975 film adaptation of The Hiding Place:

MOVIE CLIP: Where do you hide your ration cards? I don’t know what you’re talking about. Where are the Jews? What Jews?…

Corrie ten Boom and her family are arrested and sent to prison. But the Jews hiding in their house, all escape.

Ten Boom is held in solitary confinement for three months before her trial. She and her sister eventually arrive at the women’s concentration camp at Ravensbrück in northern Germany. Betsie, sick and weak from exposure, dies in the camp hospital on December 16th. Two weeks later, Corrie ten Boom is unexpectedly released. She is the only member of her family to survive the Nazi imprisonment.

TEN BOOM: And then the Lord gave me…

Ten Boom became an international public speaker, visiting more than 60 countries with the message of God’s grace for all. In 19-76 she spoke to the students and faculty of Moody Bible Institute:

TEN BOOM: I went to that nurse and the nurse accepted the Lord Jesus as her savior. Now just imagine, I had hated her. I brought that hatred to the Lord and He had so changed my heart, that He could use me to bring her to the decision of Jesus.

Corrie ten Boom died of a stroke at age 91 in 1983.

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.

(Photo/Grand Canyon)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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