John Newton's conversion happened during a storm that nearly sank the slave ship he captained. He prayed at first, and he later read Thomas a Kempis' Imitation of Christ. This was the beginning of his conversion. Newton abandoned the slave trade and became a minister. He then spent the rest of his life preaching against slavery.
Newton helped William Wilberforce end slavery in England. Newton's tombstone, at St Mary, Woolnoth, UK, reads:
- JOHN NEWTON, Clerk
- Once an infidel and libertine
- A servant of slaves in Africa
- Was, by the mercy of our Lord and Saviour
- JESUS CHRIST
- restored, pardoned and appointed to preach
- the Gospel which he had long laboured to destroy.
- He ministered,
- Near sixteen years in Olney in Bucks,
- And twenty eight years in this Church.