Part 1 of 2
The young man stopped at the edge of the frozen lake. His footprints
led back through the snow for several miles to the prison from which he
had just escaped. An Anabaptist in sixteenth-century Holland, Dirk
Willem had been sentenced to burn at the stake. Now he ran for his
life, with one guard in pursuit.
The ice at the shoreline was thick and white, but near the center it
shaded down to a thinner sheet. A slight man like Dirk would have a
good chance of reaching the other side safely, but his heavier pursuer
would need to go around or take a terrible risk.
Carefully, gingerly, Dirk made his way to the opposite bank. Just as he
arrived, the guard burst out of the woods and began lumbering across the
ice as the fugitive sprinted away. But then - a crack, a shriek. Dirk
whirled to see a jagged black hole with his pursuer's head and flailing
arms at its center. Dirk was safe. Free.
But he also faced a question. Was it Christ-like to leave a man to die?
How could a Christian live with that cry ringing in his ears? On the
other hand, how many people could he reach with his ministry after he'd
been burned at the stake? Didn't he have an obligation to stay alive
for the sake of their future? ...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Part 2 of 2
And what of Dirk? He went back onto the ice and rescued the guard - who
promptly arrested him. Instead of being miraculously delivered, Dirk
returned to jail and not long afterward was burned at the stake, as any
cynic might have predicted.
It did not end there, though. The story swept through Holland, and in
shame for the killing of that righteous man, the Dutch passed a law that
no person should ever again be put to death for his or her religious
beliefs. It was the first such law in Europe. Holland became a haven
for all kinds of Christian fugitives, including the Puritans, who fled
there before taking ships to the New World.
[ By Jan Charles Haluska -- from 'Wit and Wisdom' ]
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