In 1943, he was captured and interned in the Weihsien Internment Camp. In appalling conditions, with limited food and essential items, the internees would often behave with similarly appalling character – cheating, lying, hoarding and stealing in order to survive. In this environment, Eric Liddell was a beacon of light. Liddell would give his food away to others, he would rebuke others who were hoarding, exhorting them to share. He helped the elderly, ran Bible classes, taught Science and held athletic and sporting events to encourage the internees, especially the children in the prison camp. Liddell worked tirelessly in the camp and was loved by all. The children in the camp referred to him affectionately as "Uncle Eric". In February 1945, after months of ailing health, Eric Liddell died just five months before liberation came to the camp. He died aged 43, having never met his youngest daughter. In the presence of a close friend and fellow missionary, Eric Liddell’s final words were “It’s complete surrender”.
Eric Liddell’s life is a living example of the prayer of Agur in Proverbs 30:8,9:
Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God.
In the end, Eric Liddell didn’t dishonour the name of His God. He ran the race, fought the good fight to the very end. What struck me about Eric Liddell’s faith is that it could endure both fame and famine, success and suffering. Men of weaker faith would have succumbed to either threat. Success threatens to steal the soul in exchange for the fleeting taste of earthly glory. Suffering can embitter one’s heart turning it to resentment against God. Liddell managed to avoid both threats and as such lived an attractive life of deep conviction, Christ-like humility and unyielding service.