John Bunyan (28 November 1628 – 31 August 1688) was an English Christian writer and preacher, who is well-known for his book The Pilgrim’s Progress. As a tinker, he goes from town to town, mending pots and pans for all who will pay. John can’t free himself from a heavy burden of guilt. Fear of eternal damnation haunts him day and night. Finally, a chance meeting helps John to understand that he must hand his sin over to the One who can carry the load. Once he’s free of the burden of guilt, John is like a new man. Nothing can stop him from sharing the good news of salvation with others. Before long, this uneducated tinker is preaching to crowds that are hungry for solid spiritual food. There’s just one problem. Preaching outside of the official church is illegal in England in 1660. When the authorities learn of the tinker-preacher and the large crowds coming to hear him, they draw up the necessary papers and send their officers to do the dirty work. If Bunyan preaches even one sentence, he will be arrested and thrown into prison. With his wife, his children and his congregation watching, John Bunyan steps to the pulpit. With a glance toward the waiting officers and their arrest warrant, Bunyan takes a deep breath and begins his sermon. He would rather follow his calling and suffer the consequences than cower in fear as a free man.
Once in prison, John’s ministry continues in a new way. The man with little education and much personal grief uncovers a distinct talent for writing. After completing several non-fiction books, John begins the most important work of his life. The Pilgrim’s Progress follows the struggle of a Christian pilgrim to stay true to his beliefs, avoid temptations, and remain on the narrow path to reach heaven. Published in 1678, this book’s description of Christianity as a journey containing both highs and lows has impacted countless millions of people. After the Bible, it has been the most circulated Christian work of all time. Bunyan’s famous allegory about Pilgrim’s journey to the Celestial City has been second only to the Bible itself in the number of copies sold worldwide over the three and a half centuries since it was first published.