A light shining in the darkness
September 21, 2013
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In 1671 there arose a severe persecution of the Mennonites in Switzerland, causing many to flee the country. Brethren in the Netherlands came to their aid and gave them refuge. In all, about 700 persons, among them some very aged, fled Switzerland. They were destitute, their lands and properties having been seized by the Swiss authorities.
Some of the leaders, however, delayed leaving Switzerland for a period of time. When asked the reason, this was their reply:
“They say that the churches greatly waxed and increased, so that though under the cross, they nevertheless flourished as a rose among thorns, and that further increase could daily be expected, because many persons manifested themselves, who saw the light shine out of darkness, and began to love the same and seek after it; that the ministers considering this in their heart, found themselves loath to leave the country, fearing that thereby this promising harvest may be lost, and thus many fall back from their good purpose; and hence they chose rather to suffer a little than to leave, in order that they might yet rescue some souls from perdition, and bring them to Christ.”*
About twenty years later, many of these Swiss Mennonite refugees and their children left the Netherlands to cross the ocean and settle in Pennsylvania, thus beginning the history of the Mennonites in North America.
*This paragraph comes from material added to the second edition of the Martyrs Mirror.