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(The Secret of the Strength) 1. A Man Hanging from His Thumb

A Man Hanging from his Thumb The sun shines on Klundert, green lowland plains lying flat as far as eye can see. Tourists visit Klundert. They take pictures: fields of flowers and vegetables. Thunderheads rise, making rows of poplars alongside the canals of Noord Brabant look small. Long canals, they... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 10. On to a New Life

On to a New Life "In Christ Jesus neither the cutting away nor the foreskin is of any value, but a new creature," wrote Menno Simons on the title page of his book Of the Heavenly Birth and the New Creature in 1556. He quoted Paul. And with Paul and Menno Simons, the Anabaptists rejected all external... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 11. On to Baptism

On to Baptism South of Lake Constance, where the land rises to the shimmering Säntis, Altmann, and Kreuzberg peaks, the city of Sankt Gallen lies in the valley of the Sitter River. For more than a thousand years after 612 A.D. when the missionary, Gall of Down, settled here, monks lived in Sankt Gal... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 12. On to Commitment

On to Commitment A dry wind howls out of the Sierra Madre on Pfingsten, the day of Pentecost, when Old Colony Mennonites get baptized. On this day the churches will be full. Horses and wagons, like columns of ants on dirt trails ruler-straight across the vast drought-scorched plateau, move toward th... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 13. On to Communion

On to Communion South of the baths at Ragatz and the Swiss village of Maienfeld, south of the snow-crowned peaks, Falkniß and Scesaplana, where the setting sun lights up the snowfields of the Glarner and the Rhaetian Alps, lies the deep valley of the Domleschg. It lies in the part of Switzerland tha... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 14. On to Community

On to Community In the old city of Augsburg in Bavaria, Jakob Wideman (VEE duh mun) found the way of Christ in 1527. Augsburg was a wealthy city. The Fuggers, Europe's richest and most powerful bankers, lived there. But when Jakob found Christ, he left money and earthly securities behind. Immediatel... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 15. On to Visibility

On to Visibility Where the Werra flows between the Thüringer Forest and the highlands of the Rhön, the castle of the knights of Bibra-Schwebenheim overshadowed the little house of Johannes Hut, his wife, and his four children. Johannes (they called him Hans) bound books and sold them. He worked on a... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 16. On with the Message

On with the Message Oid, oid, lo que nos manda el Salvador. Marchad, marchad, y proclamad mi amor. Pues he aquí, yo con vosotros estaré Los dias todos hasta el fin os guardaré. Id, id por el mundo. Id, Id y predicad el evangelio, Id, id va adelante el todopoderoso Salvador. ¡Gloria, gloria aleluya a... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 17. On to Witness

On to Witness Among the dairy farms at Goes on the Dutch island of Zuid Beveland, Joost Joosten grew up singing. He excelled in Latin at school, but his heart was in the songs he sang, and his parents found a place for him in the choir of the village church. People noticed him when he sang -- fair-h... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 18. On to Peace

On to Peace More than the pungence of curing meat and wood smoke greeted those who entered the back room of Matthias Fischer's house in Augsburg, on August 24, 1527. Matthias was a butcher. But on this day he had no meat to trim nor sausages to stuff. With his wife and children he had cleaned up his... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 19. On to an Ethical Way of Life

On to an Ethical Way of Life As a child, Ursula Hellrigl had to leave her home in the deep valley of the River Inn. Traveling fast, at night, through the forests and along mountain trails from Austria, she arrived with her parents at Auspitz in Moravia. There, upon reaching her early teens, she deci... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 2. What Was the Secret of the Strength?

What Was the Secret of the Strength? For as long as I can remember, people have told me about the Anabaptists. In fact, I distinctly remember the first time they told me about Geleyn Cornelis, who hung from his thumb. I was not yet going to school. It was on a Sunday evening in southern Ontario, and... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 20. On to Modesty

On to Modesty "¿Serán monjas? (Are they nuns?)" the old woman at the fruit stand asks in a low voice, her attention fastened on two girls coming up the cobblestone street. "No," replies her granddaughter with a smile. "They are Patricia Ramirez and Elena Chavez. They have joined the Mennonites." Twi... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 21. On to Christian Families

On to Christian Families On the Koppenstraat in the Dutch city of Briel, Anneken Jansz led a sheltered life in the large house of her parents. They had money and she was their only child. Anneken, in the flower of her youth, met a young man called Arent. He was a barber-surgeon and their love led to... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 22. On to Christian Service

On to Christian Service The Mennonite church called my father into the Dienst (service) when I was five years old. After that he went to sit with four other Diener (servants) and one elder behind a bare wooden pulpit along one side of the meetinghouse, and my brother David took charge of me in the y... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 23. In Spite of Terrible Mistakes

In Spite of Terrible Mistakes Nearly everyone at the Sankt Pelagius school of the Chorherrenstift in Bischofszell in the Thurgau liked Ludwig. He was a quiet well-mannered student. Like many Swiss boys of his age who came from wealthy homes, he studied Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. His teachers saw in h... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 24. A Bull in the China Shop

A Bull in the China Shop Clustered around its Benedictine monastery, Mönchen-Gladbach on the plains of the lower Rhein in Germany, was a city of song. Its monks sang. Choral groups of nuns from the convent of Neuwerk sang. The music of the great organ in the bishop's church broke into thousands of c... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 25. Zu de Gmeysleid

Zu de Gmeysleid1 Zwansig Joa zrick hen mei Schweschda un ich viel gschwetzt von die Sacha. `S hot vleicht net viel gebatt weil ma woara all zwey jung, neibekäat, un mit wenig Äafoaring. Juscht mia hen vielmols, meiats im Winta wans kald un schneeig woa draus, im Schtall bei de Millichhaus däa gschta... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 26. To the Outsiders

To the "Outsiders" On hazy summer afternoons, while the grownups worked elsewhere, we children played house on the back yard. Even though we didn't know English yet, we would dress up, pretend to be stylish and ignorant, and call ourselves die Stoltze (the proud ones). That is how we Mennonite child... Read More

(The Secret of the Strength) 27. The Last Chapter

The Last Chapter In the beginning of this book we compared the Anabaptists with Samson. In following chapters we saw the great strength whereby they overcame their trials. But we also saw the mistakes they made and how, in less than a hundred years, the great strength left them and their movement be... Read More

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