Horatio Spafford was born in 1828 in Troy, NY and died of malaria, 60 years later in Jerusalem. His life was tested through many heights and depths to the end. Isn't it often the case in fulfillment of scripture? "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
Spafford became a distinguished lawyer in Chicago, and he, with his wife Anna, were close friends of Dwight L. Moody, the evangelist, whom they supported.
Their lives began to be tilled over in 1870 through the loss of their only son through scarlet fever, followed a year later by the Great Fire of Chicago and further personal loss. But they learned the characteristics of God as a giver and through persistent hospitality which was going to prepare them for events to come.
in 1873, they were to take a vacation in Europe but Spafford was delayed through business and was going to join the family a little later. Instead, his business was abruptly halted by a telegram from Anna; "Saved Alone!"
Spafford was intimately acquainted with Peter's words;"Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy." 1 Peter 4 : 12
There have been many gushing words aimed at scandalizing the early colony, for many diverse reasons. Spafford had a unique passion for Jesus Christ, and intense commitment to scripture, and was drawn through a series of very trying times. Much of the hospitality of the early Colony has been scoffed at by those of the religious establishment from where persecution often comes from first.
He didn't seek out the praises of men, or adornments of fancy titles but was comforted by words of encouragement from representatives of other countries, posted to Jerusalem, and much appreciation by local inhabitants. They had much to endure, at that time, from the US Consul, Selah Merrill, who would have loved to have dismantled the whole purpose of the community's existence. He also represented, as a minister, the American Congregationalist church and was offended by the manner of Spafford's desire to identify with the early church so beautifully described in Acts where they held property in common. Neither was Spafford a firebrand preacher with numerical revival on his mind. Instead content with the twos and threes who could testify of Christ's saving Grace. That sharing in a community smacked, to some, of a whiff of communism against the background of the emerging systems in the world. Any thoughts of selfless sharing based upon biblical teaching, gave some ground for the mockers!
False accusations accompanied their good works, to the extent that much rumor and commercial publications have encouraged a negative review. Promoting appearance of a more salacious and entertaining kind, provide some with a better profit.
Spafford, however, continues to inspire those with humble interests.