A long, fierce, consuming drought had come upon the land. The leaves crumpled, the earth brake open, the buckets came down on the stony bottom of the well, and found no water; the cattle bellowed with thirst on the banks of the ravine, that was once all a rush with liquid brightness. Alas! Must the nation die?
In the year 1558, Brother Hans Smit, a minister of the Word of God, was sent forth by the church to seek and gather those that were eager for the truth. Acts 13:3. When he therefore, being divinely called, undertook to travel through the Netherlands, he, together with five brethren and six sisters, was apprehended in the city of Aix-la-Chapelle, on the ninth of January.
This is a very graphic testimony of the power of grace and perseverance in the midst of severe torture and persecution. In the year A. D. 290, three men, Tharacus, Probus, and Andronicus, were brought to prison before the tribunal, and questioned. While being tortures on the rack, they suffered beyond measure for the name of the Lord. By faith in Jesus Christ they were dreadfully tormented, questioned and finally put to death by being thrown alive to wild beast.
All these events occurred in Tarsus, which is the birthplace of Paul. Ancient Tarsus is located in what is modern day Turkey. Through it all, these men left a remarkable witness of God’s grace. All along they focused all glory on God.
The complete story can be found on page 146 in the Martyrs Mirror. A word of caution is needed--the torture described here is very gruesome. May the Lord use these painful testimonies to crack through our modern day, pampered lives and prepare our hearts with a non-compromising devotion to Him May we be ready if we are called on to witness for our Lord Jesus Christ as they were.
About the year 1550, it happened in the bishopric of Bamberg, that two young girls espoused and received Christ by faith, were baptized upon their faith, according to the doctrine of Christ, and arising from sin, sought to walk in newness of life with Christ.
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Isaiah 57:15
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16b
These verses beautifully describe some of the secrets of this vibrant church. I chose to place the same picture at the beginning of this continued article, because it says it all. It is the broken-hearted prayers of humble believers that bring the presence of God into their midst. I pray that God will lead us into this same kind of desperate praying, so that His bride in America can be like His bride in China.
We have received many encouraging words about the first half of this article. Thank you for your input. We love to hear from the hearts of our readers. It is good for us American Christians to be challenged by believers from the other side of the world. Let us return to the interview.
A beautiful testimony of nonresistance taken from The Martyrs Mirror.
In the year 1569 a pious, faithful brother and follower of Jesus Christ, named Dirk Willems, was apprehended at Asperen, in Holland, and had to endure severe tyranny from the papists (Roman Catholics.) But as he had founded his faith not upon the drifting sand of human commandments, but upon the firm foundation stone, Christ Jesus, he, notwithstanding all evil winds of human doctrine, and heavy showers of tyrannical and severe persecution, remained immovable and steadfast unto the end; wherefore, when the chief Shepherd shall appear in the clouds of heaven and gather together His elect from all the ends of the earth, he shall also through grace hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” I Pet. 5:4; Matt. 24:31; 25:23.
God’s hand displayed for Elizabeth and Hadewijk in 1549
Do you find the Martyr’ Mirror to be a bit difficult to read? Old English combined with many horrible and gruesome details of torture that makes us shudder and shrink away from? But don’t give up, there are some wonderful stories of deliverance in there too! There is also much doctrine and theology in some of those writings of years ago when the times were hard for those who believed that the Word of God held more authority then the religious leaders of the day. Some of these people were educated priests, others were simple folks, and even some were children who suffered imprisonment, torture and death at the hands of those who were considered the spiritual authorities of the day. They stood firm in their belief and would not compromise in the least no matter how awful and cruel their executioners were. But sometimes they were set free by God’s mighty power. One such account follows here that reminded me of the story of Samuel back in Old Testament times because just like Samuel heard God as a child this Godly woman was called by name by God Himself.