Pastor's Blog

Pastor's Note - November 16

I’ve told this story before, and I thought about including it again in Sunday’s sermon, but ended up cutting it for time. It relates to the command to bless those who revile you, and centers on an early Dutch Anabaptist by the name of Dirk Willems. Willems was baptized as a young man, as a believer, and in doing so rejected his infant baptism. Because of this choice to be baptized as an adult, and his devotion to Anabaptism (including the baptizing of several others), Willems was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church and subsequently imprisoned. As the story goes, and having become thin enough to squeeze through the barred window of his prison, Willems one day escaped using a rope made out of knotted rags. He climbed out of the window, and, since it was winter, had to walk on a frozen moat that circled the prison. As he was walking along, a guard noticed his escape, and chased after him. The ice that didn’t crack under Willems—because he was so thin—did give way under the weight of the guard. The guard fell through the ice in pursuit of the prisoner. Willems was faced with a choice: to continue toward freedom, or turn back and save the guard. Being a committed follower of Christ, and understanding the Christian imperative to love and bless reviling enemies, he turned back and rescued the guard who pursued him, saving his life. Willems was then recaptured, and held in prison until he was burned at the stake on the 16th of May in 1569. Willems was not rewarded for his Christian mercy in this life, but rather endured suffering and death. But surely he how lays claim to the good life, and is receiving the good inheritance, that the Lord has promised to those who follow Him.

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