Our story goes all the way back to the early reformers, Martin Luther,and Uhlrich Zwingly. These two reformers brought to us out of the dark ages, a glorious and shining message that forever changed the course of the church. It was a message of hope and salvation by Grace through faith for the common people. Up until than there was little hope. The nations were gripped under the vise and darkness of the old church who held both, the spiritual and civil authority. Under Luther and Zwinglys leadership, the history of the church slowly began to change. Zwingly had two men under him, who began to take the Word of God to a new level. They understood that a believer's baptism is a biblical requirement, a step Zwingly was unwilling to take, for such a step would put him outside the protection of the old church. In consequence, he sided with the church against these two, who had been his students namely Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz. After a few years of disputation with their leader, and unable to come to terms with him, they regretfully parted ways.

On a dark January night, these two, with numerous other brothers and sisters came togther in a hushed and serious manner to baptize one another upon their confession of faith. They knew and understood the cost of such a step in the face of Zwingly and the authorities. This took place in the small village of Zolliken , on the very egde of the city of Zurich Switzerland . What happened this night kindled a fire that rapidly began spreading from village to village. In a very short time, it swept throughout Switzerland , spilling over into Germany , Austria , France and the Netherlands . From the time of the early church, there has never been an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to this Magnitude. In my estimation, there probably has not been one like it since.

To this day, we have not yet recovered the truth in its simplicity as they displayed it. They walked in the pure light of the Gospel. Their very presence, perhaps more then their message, spread the fire as they went from village to village. They carried with them the flaming torch of the Gospel. They were totally non resistant, yet the authorities could not ignore them. The more they were persecuted, the more valiant they became. They were imprisoned on bread and water, they were banished out of the land, or to the ships galleys. Their properties were confiscated and sold. Thousands were executed, by the sword, by fire and drowning, yet their shining light could not be quenched, it kept marching forth, thousands upon thousands picked up its torch until most of Europe was ignited with its flaming light.

In light of such a surge of the Holy Spirit for 200 years, how is it that we Anabaptists have degenerated into such a state of obscurity and quietness?

 

We have become the quiet and peaceful in the land. We still carry the mark of forgiveness towards our persecutors, but with this, we have adopted a spirit of passiveness, we no longer hold up our torches. We would rather hide than offend, hence, our reclusiveness. Without being consciously aware, we still carry these past wounds deep in our genes. It has become a part of who we now are, not what we had been. This must be recovered!

The blood of our forefathers still speaks! This is what some leaders in the "Reformed" as well as in the "Lutheran" church have discovered. Today, they are not only asking for forgiveness, but they greatly desire to recover the torch of the Anabaptists whom they have driven out of their lands. They are asking the Anabaptists back into their lands to restore, heal and reconcile with the past atrocities.

unfortunately, Many Anabaptists are wary and suspicious of their motives. this is understandable. Yet as we look at the Amish, Mennonites and the Hutterites, we see a very fragmented and disjointed nation. The one thing we still hold in common, are the articals of faith handed by our forfathers in Schleitheim, and later the Dortrecht confessions. Apart from this, we are a sad and dying nation, an unrecognizable reflection of our flaming past. This is no reflection on any individual today, but it is nevertheless an undeniable fact.

 

In 1852 the Swiss Amish of near Berne IN came over from the Bernese Oberland and the Emmental. They were perhaps the last migration of Amish to come over. They have in their history, a close connection with Hans Haslibacher, a Swiss Anabaptist who was in prison in the Trachsalwald castle near Summiswald in the Emmental.

 

 

The night before his execution, he had an angelic encounter, where the angel encouraged him and gave instructions as to what will take place at his execution.

Number one, after the beheading, his head would fall back in his hat and laugh out loud. Number two, the sun would turn blood red. Number three, The town well in Bern , would sweat blood. All these things took place as he was told. This took place in 1571. After this, the Bern authorities no longer executed the Anabaptists, but for many years banished them out of their cantons, either to the galleys, or north to the Netherlands . This castle, as you can see, is still standing.

The prison cells are still there in their original state. Many other Anabaptists languished and died within its walls.

I myself am a Swiss Anabaptist, born near Berne IN. I have been inside this prison numerous times. It gives one a hushed and sober feeling as you stand in these places where our forefathers suffered so intensely for Christ, our Lords sake. What will it take for us Anabaptists to return to their intense love for JESUS as they once possessed??? Time and again, they had personal encounters with the Lord, which gave them the strength and the courage to meet whatever persecution they would face to maintain their intimate relationship with CHRIST.

In conclusion, I pray, GOD will once again reveal Himself to us as HE did in former times to our people. I know! A few seconds in Your presence will forever change our course to serve you with a whole and unadulterated heart. Lord, Grant us this GRACE, so that the fire of the Holy Spirit might once again be awakened in me and my people, to spread the Gospel to the nations. They are waiting on us.
 
 
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