A group of Radical Reformers, known as Anabaptists, found themselves facing a penalty of death at the hands of the Protestant government in Zurich, Switzerland, during the 16th century.
Escaping their death sentence, Anabaptists fled to the foothills of the Alps. Hunted by local authorities, these faithful disciples found hiding places to worship and follow their consciences.
While attending the 2018 Baptist World Alliance meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, this week, I had the privilege of finding one of their caves and the honor of worshipping where Anabaptists once walked.
With a small waterfall shielding our voices, we stepped on sacred space where the echoes of our spiritual ancestors could be heard bouncing off the cave walls as they connected to their God.
Making the trek up the mountain to the cave’s location was a difficult journey. Disciples felt the pain of walking up a mountain with each burning step reminding them about the suffering of their Lord. The tall trees they passed provided a green canopy of safety from what loomed in the towns below.
After making the long climb to the cave, Anabaptists gathered in the damp crypt to sing their favorite hymns beneath the dull roar of the waterfall.
They read from the Scriptures, offered prayers, listened to the prophets of God and baptized those making a profession of faith. For their commitment to conscience, they faced fierce persecution and potential death.
Standing in this sacred place stirs the soul and tugs at the heart. When disciples of Jesus live out their faith connected to consciences, then the world as we know it begins to change.
The powerful grow uneasy and the establishment begins to exert power, but the faith of a few can shine light into darkness.
As I walked back down from this holy site, my steps were re-energized with the light from the cave.
With so much darkness consuming our world, the time for light-loving disciples to emerge from their caves has arrived.
BWA General Secretary Elijah Brown challenged us to leave our caves to spread the light of the gospel. His words echo from that cave.
We must allow the warmth of the sunlight to fuel our souls. We must raise our voices in the square, singing hymns for those who will listen and those who turn their ears.
Let us pray as though our words land in the very ears of God. Let us read and recite the Scriptures, knowing the Word of God still changes the world.
Let us wrestle with what we read and practice our faith with both compassion and boldness.
And finally, more than anything, let us act with the conviction and passion of our dear Anabaptists brothers and sisters.
The time to descend from the caves has come.