Living What Our Forefathers Died For

Written by: Linda Maendel on Monday, January 27th, 2014

I read the email twice, to make sure I understood this right. Yes, this really is a scholarship opportunity in Germany. I could either let it go or Carpe Diem. I decided to seize the day and soon realized, sometimes when you walk through an open door, God has even more blessings in store!

Thus, Carpe Diem led to a colleague and me receiving a scholarship for a teaching methods course, offered by the Lower Saxony Ministry of Education. We’d be studying in Hannover, Germany for ten days, with hotel, food and local transportation included in the scholarship!

This in itself was worth celebrating, but when I found out that we’d be doing a Hutterite History tour through several European countries, prior to our course, the excitement doubled. Strong supporters of education, our community leaders gave their blessing for the trip. August found five of us, my sister and three friends, flying to Zurich, Switzerland, as we’d be starting our tour where the Reformation was born in the early 1500’s. This eventually led to the Anabaptist movement and the start of Christian community, as described in Acts 2: 42-47.

Having heard and read the heart-wrenching stories about our history many times since childhood, instilled in me a longing to visit the land of our forefather. However, I never imagined that the opportunity would come so unexpectedly, without any plans on my part.

The tour took us to six countries; Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, then finally Germany for our course. “We’re taking an intensive church history course,” someone in our group remarked. A fact, the rest of us wholeheartedly agreed with. Packed into eleven days were visits to the places connected to the Reformation, some of which evoked strong             emotions: Anabaptist beginnings, early Hutterite settlements, severe persecution, lengthy imprisonments and brutal deaths. This ultimately led to all Hutterites fleeing from one European country to another, till settling in Russia in 1762. Hundred years later, they were once again forced to leave their home, this time to America and eventually Canada.

We met two different committees, one in Tirol, and the other in Vienna, Austria, who work diligently to ensure that the Anabaptist story is not forgotten. With government grants the Vienna committee set up two museums in Lower Austria, one at the Ruins of the Falkenstein Castle, and the other in the Sulz Weinviertel. Next year the Tirol committee is hoping to open the Hutterer Park in Innsbruck, Austria, to commemorate Anabaptists who died for their faith. The park is right along the Inn River, where many believers were drowned. The members of these committees also graciously host Hutterites who come to Europe, taking them to the historic sites in the area. I was deeply touched when visiting these places as our hosts read to us, the stories from our Chronicle of the Hutterian Brethren.

As I reflect on the bygone year, I’m reminded that three memorable weeks this summer is a gift that will never break or lie forgotten on a shelf. Besides making our history come alive, this tour has deepened my gratitude for the legacy our forefathers left us and the religious freedom we enjoy today. I’ve also come away blessed with many special friends in Europe. We’re connected through history and live what our forefathers died for – all of us from various churches, serving the same God!

One of our new friends recently said it best, “These visits are a blessing. Not only do they allow us to establish beautiful friendships, but also, little by little, heal the deep wounds of our country’s history.”

(To learn more about this trip, visit my blog: hutt-writevoice.blogspot.com and click on Europe Trip in the tabs.)

 


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Showing 5 comments

Wurtz said:reply
On: 13th Mar, 2014 at 05:38

It’s good to step back and take a look at where the Hutterites are from, Martin Luther had spearheaded a great revival in Europe by nailing a thesis to a wall and sparking inspiration and emancipating minds, One may ask. How can one man have such an effect on an entire country? He was a star in the hand of Jesus, (one of the 7 angels he sent, referenced in revelations). This was a GREAT movement, one has to admit that indeed an angel had hit the world and caused man to protest the Catholic church and develop an understanding of justification they had not entertained before. It’s God who reveals in due season, (you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free). It’s interesting to note that the Hutts sing a great deal out of the (lutheran) hymn book to this date testifying of their origin, A great deal of fanaticism followed Luther’s revival, the Catholic church murdered countless millions during the last 2k years and she managed to kill off the church to such an extent that the real church being like a seed in the ground it germinated and sprang forth in Luther’s days, this was a relatively weak era, as a plant starts small so had the church received inspiration that “the just shall live by faith”. One of the fundamental elements of salvation, the Hutterites basically hijacked this wave of inspiration and begun a campaign to rebaptize according to what they implied was a scriptural way versus the Catholic standard that had been thwarted by Luther, additionally they were obviously so caught away with this angel or messenger aka inspiration that they sought to restore the biblical account in acts 2 that detailed a Holy Ghost filled church so in power that their vision was not on the things of the world but on the things of God, thereby they made available their earthly goods to their Spiritual family,

Wurtz said:reply
On: 13th Mar, 2014 at 05:38

Continued…
One must note that this euphoric state of oneness was not a physical worked up condition but a church that was empowered by the Holy Ghost to such an extent that the sick were healed, people died for lying to the Holy Ghost, etc
This was a church filled with the power of God, but subsequently religious organizations weakened the church by removing the word of God as their central theme. They began to adopt Roman dogmas and mixed it with Christianity. Like for example- the early Church baptized (immersed) in the name of Jesus Christ, the church dropped that and began to “sprinkle” (a heathen trait) in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Ghost…..that name (singular) is Jesus Christ. Otherwise the bible would read “in the NAMES of the Father the Son and the Holy Ghost”. Peter who had the keys to the kingdom knew that Jesus Christ was his name therefore he commanded believers to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
It’s interesting to note that the Hutts still retain this Catholic and unscriptural baptism! God revealed these truths progressively in subsequent ages, many other doctrinal deficiencies are basically keeping the hutts stunted! YOU ARE PUTTING THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE BY TRYING TO RETAIN THE VIRTUES OF THE EARLY CHURCH WITHOUT THE WORD OF GOD BEING FULLY RESTORED. GOD IS THE AUTHOR OF THIS CHURCH!!! And will see to it that she is without spot or wrinkle!!! but of course the Hutts had put up a wall and dismissed further revelations of God, God has sent additional messengers or angels after Luther! You sure aligned with his teachings. There were other men sent of God. Like Wesley that thought sanctification. A furtherance of God’s word. God holds these 7 angels and progressively sends them into the earth to mature the church. To bring it into harvest!!! Did the Hutts receive this angel? No! They are stuck in time as an antique.
You have left off being the salt of the earth! Hutter never intended his movement to die or morphe into a agricultural tribe that multiplies and divides on an infinite loop, the Hutts are basically inbred already because they have left off adding to the church except for those born into it. Alcoholism and political rivalries are prevalent because your system does not correspond fully with the church of God that’s maturing and getting ready for the harvest!
In your attempt to isolate from the world you have bred mass ignorance and spiritual deficiencies. Your preachers are basically readers, who lack the Holy Spirit that equips one to speak the oracles of God.
Let there be no mistake. The Hutterite church is weighed in the balance and found wanting! You will not find the virtues of God by retaining a historical account of some age gone by!
God’s word has increased. And just like Luther’s age spawned an awakening. The furtherance of the Gospel is revealed from glory to glory unto that perfect day.

    Frans Baatenburg de Jong said:reply
    On: 27th Oct, 2014 at 08:51

    Yes, it is very tempting to separate from the world and all its temptations, and its confusion. I love many traditions of the Hutts. We must form families though that are seen by the people, and that others want to follow. In freedom. Also our children need to follow, in freedom; and we need to remain free, after that too. As mature men and women of faith, we can then live a life of loving others, without isolating ourslves. It is not easy, nut necessarry. God wants us to be like lights on the hill. Reverend Moon of Korea started this movement, the Family Federation for Worldpeace, where we have this ideal.

Frans Baatenburg de J said:reply
On: 21st Oct, 2014 at 03:01

Living for what the forefathers died for is noble, but often prevents one to live in the present enough or prepare for the future.
I like many aspects of Hutterite life, but especially the spreading of God`s Kingdom and witnessing efforts are not enough, if it it is only done in far away lands. What about the people in the developed world around us – can they just be left alone? I don`t think so, that is God`s ideal, so new ways have to be found to reach them; this may be outside the Hutterite realm. so they are bound to have to work together or at least support other people who love God and a religious life!

janet foxley said:reply
On: 19th Aug, 2015 at 18:40

I am English & I have been reading your books. I come from a farming family in the UK and I remember the way of life you describe as very similar to the one some Hutterite Colonies run i.e. own schools, a woodworking shops, a mixed farm selling our own produce outside of the community. Farming with horses too. Main Christian outlook and church very Sunday with all family, women doing the main child rearing and domestic duties etc I would like to stay on or near a Hutterite colony in Manitoba in the next year. I would fly into Winnipeg International airport. Do you know of or have any contacts suitable for my travel and vacation in or near a Hutterite Colony as near to Winnipeg as possible as I would probably use public transport – not drive – as I did when I went to a Mennonite Farm in Lancaster County Pennsyvania a few year ago? Thank you