Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Power: Maeyken Wens

I have many heroes who inspire me and encourage me in my walk with Christ. Some heroes, I know personally such as my grandfather, my parents, my husband, and various evangelist, preachers and speakers of the gospel. Then there are heroes in Christian history that I have never met such as John, Paul, James, Andrew, Mary of Bethany, Esther, Amy Carmichael, Sarah Edwards, Evelyn Brand and the Wurmbrands. But near the top of my ever-growing list of heroes is this woman - Maeyken Wens.

It seems like every day, I am increasingly disturbed by the infatuation with pop culture and how so many Christian girls idolize celebrities and the "stars" of this world. What we, young women of this generation, need is a shot of serious, radiant transformation. We need to get our eyes off of Hollywood’s would-be representations of womanhood and cast them upon the Godly beauties all over the world who change lives, inspire souls, and who make an eternal difference. People such as my heroes listed above go before us, preparing the way and giving us an example of Christianity that is so much more than the "feel good" messages we have today in Churches and Christian bookstores. They look back at you and I, bidding us to join them, and exchange our life for the life of Christ. We have the power within us, given to us by God Himself, to shake off the shackles of defeat and embrace His divine and exciting gift of real, bona fide living!

The belief of most Christians today will never change the world. The mindset that is so prevalent in the Churches today is powerless and mediocre. While pagan nations all over the world think nothing of flying into buildings, or strapping bombs to their chest - all in the name of their god - the "victorious Christians" who serve the only true God have been reduced to a compromised and cowardly people who are lifeless in their belief and powerless in their living. While the ungodly and the wicked die for a statue or animal or human being, we, as Christians, can’t even live for a God who has always been and always will be. Something has to change. It is time to go back to our roots; to a Christian life built upon the blood and sacrifice of those who diligently and passionately followed Christ Jesus. The Gospel, the glory of the saving Redeemer, is far from dull and bland, and the merciful grace and the unconditional, massive love of our sinless Savior deserves more than a mere two hours a week. Love so rich and unworthily poured out upon us demands our every waking moment. Women (and men!) all over the world and throughout the ages understood this, and they gladly offered up their every word, every thought, every deed, and every dream to the One who gives life, forgiveness, and a future more breathtaking than anything we could imagine. By surrendering ourselves to Him, He furnishes our inward souls with His power and love. The first step is yielding to Him everything we are and everything we have. He cannot use those who are unwilling to let Him have control.

Though very many women in Christian history experienced horrible pain and suffering, they reacted in Christ-like love, praying for those who used them and abused them. They were so full of the power of God, that they thought nothing of torment and shame. For what is life? Is it not simply an opportunity to reflect the power and presence of God? God is searching the world over to find the few who are willing to make such a choice. In every generation, there are a selected few who stand up and declare to the listening ears and watching eyes of the world that, The Lord is God and He deserves my all!

So let me introduce you to one my biggest heroes of the Christian faith, Maeyken Wens....

Maeyken Wens was a young woman who lived in the city of Antwerp in Belgium. She was the wife of a minister and mother of two sons. Known for her faithfulness and devout commitment to the Lord, she was loved by all and considered a God-fearing and pious woman of God. On a spring day in April, in 1573, Maeyken was taken and confined in the severest prison in the city. While in prison, she was pressed and demanded to apostatize her faith. She refused.

She wrote many letters in the following months.

In a letter to her husband, Mattheus, she wrote: We ought to thank the Lord in adversity as well as in that which is agreeable to the flesh; for if the Lord takes all from us, He takes from us no more than what He has lent us, for it belongs to us no longer….Oh that I could always thank the Lord as well when the flesh suffers adversity, as when it prospers - then we can thank the Lord indeedTruly the Lord has said, "He that does not forsake everything is not worthy of me;" for the Lord well knew that it would come hard to the flesh. Oh, how easy it is to be a Christian, so long as the flesh is not put to the trial, or nothing has to be relinquished; then it is an easy thing to be a Christian.

Through months of severe torture, she continued to remain steadfast and unmovable. Her faith did not falter throughout physical torments, and no matter how many tried to persuade her to renounce the name of Christ, she would not be swayed. After six months, her sentence finally came: She was to be burned at the stake in the public square of the prison. The execution was to be carried out within twenty-four hours.

Though trembling in the flesh, Maeyken was fearless in spirit. That night, she wrote a final farewell. To faithful friend and fellow Christian, she wrote: ...I have been sentenced; nevertheless I was so full of joy, that I should not be able to express it with the mouth, the Lord be forever praised for the great grace He has shown me, who has feared so much. Oh, what a strong God we have, compared with what we see the wicked have. Oh, let us have good courage....

To her eldest son, Adriaen, she wrote: Oh, regard not the great multitude, or the ancient custom, but look at the little flock, which is persecuted for the word of the Lord.…My dear son, be not afraid of this suffering; it is nothing compared to that which shall endure forever. The Lord takes away all fear…

The following morning, she was brought out for her execution. To prevent her from testifying to the crowd or singing songs of praise, which was (and still is!) common among martyrs of the faith, her tongue was fastened to her palate with an iron screw. While the witnesses gathered, she was placed at the stake and then burned to ashes. Her son, Adriaen, was among the onlookers. However, he lost consciousness and remained on the ground until the execution had been carried out. When he awoke, he went to the place where his mother had been burnt and dug into the ashes until he found the screw which had held fastened his mother’s tongue shut. He kept it in remembrance of her.
It goes without saying that women like Maeyken Wens had tapped into a supernatural, unexplained power that transformed their very existence and shook the watching world. While we boast of our faithful attendance at Church, they risk everything simply by believing. While we shy away from persecution, they welcome it as a privilege. While we think of every plea bargain and loophole to prevent any discomfort, they stand firm upon the Word of God that says “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Timothy 2:12)

Maeyken Wens was a true heroine and valiant servant of Jesus Christ. While most people would have tried every excuse to avoid such a horrific death, Maeyken did not flinch at the verdict. Though many would have begged for mercy, she did not. There are many of us who look upon such courage and fearlessness with skepticism and disbelief. How could one endure such unbelievable pain and yet consider it their greatest honor? How can they willingly welcome a horrific death with open arms and count it all joy? How can one walk boldly into agonizing torture and not faint? How can one praise the name of Jesus while their bodies are being slain and their voice never falter? The mystery of such peace and bravery stems only from one place: in the shadow of the cross. Maeyken, and thousands of others who have suffered for Christ, found strength, hope, and triumph in the intimate splendor of Christ. It was not found in and of themselves. They had no power to withstand, no victory to obtain, and no beauty to display on their own. But because of Christ, they had all that and more! He equipped them with a spiritual stamina, a timeless grace, and an eternal legacy....and He can - and will - do the very same for me and for you IF we yield to Him day by day.

2 Timothy 1:7
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

Psalm 68:35
"O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God."

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Good post, Kristen -- great thoughts.

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