Monday, March 9, 2015

A Reminder from the Ashes

In this era of growing Christian persecution, I’ve been posting some martyr stories on my blog.  Such stories have the capacity to inspire faith and courage in those of us who come behind.
You’ve probably never heard of Maeyken Wens.  She was a Dutch woman, an Anabaptist, martyred for her faith on October 6, 1573, in Antwerp, Belgium, by “Christians” of a different stripe.  Her story has long touched my heart and stirred my faith.
Arrested for her faith in April, 1573, she was imprisoned in Antwerp until her martyrdom.  She used her imprisonment to write letters to her children and to a pastor or deacon of her church.  Those letters ring with a vibrant, free faith though exercised in her captivity.  Maeyken was sentenced to burn at the stake on October 5.  And to keep her from preaching Jesus along the way to her burning (as martyrs were often prone to do), the court instructed that her tongue be screwed fast to the roof of her mouth. 
The next day, her teenage son, Adriaen, took his youngest brother, three-year-old Hans, so that her first born and last born might be present at her death.  When she started to burn, Adriaen fainted.  He came to, and when it was over, Adriaen and Hans sifted through the smoldering ashes to find and clutch the screw with which their mother’s tongue had been stilled.[1]  That screw was a treasure, a keepsake, and reminder from the ashes of a faith that couldn’t be destroyed.
Do you ever wonder what your children or the people who come behind you will gather up from your faith when you’re gone?  Will you leave behind any tangible things: a marked Bible, a handwritten poem on an index card, a journal of some sort, some other kinds of writings, maybe cards or notes sent to you across the years by those who were touched by your life and faith?  Will you leave anything behind as a kind of reminder from the ashes of your life?
Some years ago, singer Steve Green made popular a Jon Mohr song called Find Us Faithful.  It’s a great song.  And the words of the chorus challenge me to live a faithful, Maeyken Wens kind of life:

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

[1]From the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online


  1. John, appreciate so much these articles of those martyred for their faith over the centuries... Little is known of them in 2015 but you have revived their faith by sharing their testimonies and hopefully reviving our faith to stand in these dark days that Christians are living in.
    Thank you for your faithfulness and ministry to so many and encouragement to "look unto Jesus, the Author and finisher of our Faith." (Hebrews 12:2)
    P.S. I will use this story sometime down the road in a sermon, etc. with your permission. :)

    1. Thanks, Charles, for reading my posts and taking time to comment. I appreciate you, my friend.