Sermon: Transforming Martyr Trauma

Sermon by Sheri Hostetler during our series “Becoming a Trauma-Informed Community,” Sept. 10-Oct. 8, 2017.

A reading from The Martyr’s Mirror:  “The Story of Maekyn Wens, and Some of Her Fellow-Believes”

“The north wind of persecution blew now the longer the more through the garden of the Lord, so that the herbs and trees of the same (that is the true believers) were rooted out of the earth through the violence that came against them. This appeared, among other instances, in the case of a very God-fearing and pious woman, named Maeyken Wens, who was the wife of a faithful minister of the church of God in the city of Antwerp, by the name of Mattheus Wens, by trade a mason. About the month of April, A. D. 1573, she, together with others of her fellow believers, was apprehended at Antwerp, bound, and confined in the severest prison there. In the meantime she was subjected to much conflict and temptation by so-called ecclesiastics, as well as by secular persons, to cause her to apostatize from her faith.”

I’m going to paraphrase here, because what follows, I think, is too traumatizing to bring into this space for some people. Maekyn refused to refute her faith and consequently, a few days, was given a death sentence. Before being led to the stake, she had her mouth screwed shut — which was not uncommon during that time. Otherwise the Anabaptist martyrs would speak or sing as they were being burned at the stake, and were so compelling that they often ended up converting people to their movement as they were dying.

The testimony continues: “Hence the Lord shall hereafter change their vile bodies, and fashion them like unto His glorious body. As it says in Philippians 3:21: “Christ will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.”

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