STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM
LOVE YOUR ENEMIES
“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life
for me will save it.” Luke 9:24
One of the Anabaptists of the 16th Century who died in flames was Dirk Willem.
His story is particularly touching, because he forfeited a real chance to
escape prison and death when he turned back to help one of his pursuers.
Dirk was captured and imprisoned in his home town of Asperen in the
Netherlands. Knowing that his fate would be death if he remained in prison,
Dirk made a rope of strips of cloth and slipped down it over the prison wall.
An alert guard began to chase him.
Frost had covered a nearby pond with a thin layer of ice. Dirk risked a dash
across it. He made it to safety, but the ice broke under his pursuer who cried
for help. Dirk believed the scripture that a man should help his enemies. He
immediately turned back and pulled the floundering prison guard from the
In gratitude for his life, the man would have let Dirk escape, but a
Burgomaster (chief magistrate) standing on the shore sternly ordered him to
arrest Dirk and bring him back, reminding him of the oath he had sworn as an
officer of the peace.
Back to prison went Dirk. He was condemned to death for being re-baptized,
allowing secret church services in his home and letting others be baptized as
The record of his sentencing concludes: “all of which is contrary to our holy
Christian faith, and to the decrees of his royal majesty, and ought not to be
tolerated, but severely punished, for an example to others; therefore, we the
aforesaid judges, having, with mature deliberation of council, examined and
considered all that was to be considered in this matter, have condemned and do
condemn by these presents in the name; and in the behalf, of his royal
majesty, as Count of Holland, the aforesaid Dirk Willems, prisoner, persisting
obstinately in his opinion, that he shall be executed with fire, until death
ensues; and declare all his property confiscated, for the benefit of his royal
Dirk was burned to death on May 16, 1569. He showed love to his enemy and
“saved” his life.
RESPONSE: Love for our enemies even surpasses the love of our own lives. This
is the Jesus way of the cross!
PRAYER: Help me, Lord, to show love to those who are my enemies—even giving up