(from the Introduction, pp. 7–9)
a prisoner sat in a cold jail in England. In his cell, he had a Bible, a pen, and some paper. Over many years, he wrote an adventure story that, in many ways, was like his own life. The man’s name was John Bunyan, and his story became a famous book called The Pilgrim’s Progress.
John was born in 1628 to a poor family in Bedford, England. When he was old enough, he learned to read and write at the village school. But soon he had to leave school to help his family. He became a tinker like his dad. A tinker is a person who mends pots and pans. Even though his family didn’t have very much, John’s early years were happy. From time to time though, he had very bad dreams and nightmares.
When John was older, he had to join the army and fight in a war for England. After the war, John got married to a woman named Margaret. They had four children.
But John was troubled. He had a hard time believing in God. His wife told him about God’s love and forgiveness. John came to trust in the Savior and have peace in his heart. After he put his faith in Christ, he joined a church in his hometown of Bedford. However, it wasn’t the official state church, called the Church of England. During this time, John discovered that he had a gift for preaching God’s Word.
John’s wife died at a young age, and a few years later, he married his second wife, Elizabeth. By this time, he had become a popular preacher. But since John didn’t belong to the Church of England, he was arrested and put in jail for preaching.
Elizabeth was a brave Christian. She tried all she could to get John out of prison. But he had to remain there for 12 years. After he was let go, he went back to the church in Bedford and continued preaching. He also helped start many other churches. But in a few years, he was again arrested and sent to jail. This time, he was freed in just a few months.
In 1688, John traveled to London. On the way home he got very sick. He stayed at a friend’s house hoping to get better, but died there several days later. His family and friends took him to Bunhill Fields in London to bury him.
John will always be best remembered for his story The Pilgrim’s Progress. In the hundreds of years since John wrote it, many people all over the world have read and treasured it. It has been translated into over 200 languages. The Bible is the only book that has ever sold more copies.
The Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory. An allegory is a story with two meanings. First, this is an exciting adventure story of a man and his friends on a journey to a wonderful place. On their way, they meet many challenges, dangers, and enemies. But it’s also a story that teaches important truths about Jesus and every Christian’s journey through life.