Website by Bearing Witness Stories Project offers new accounts of Anabaptist martyrdom
Looking for a story? Martyrstories.org is a new website sponsored by the Bearing Witness Stories Project. A visit to the site would allow readers to read new accounts of faith in the midst of suffering from all over the world.
The Bearing Witness Stories Project began as an effort to revitalize the classic Martyrs’ Mirror, a collection of stories of “bearing witness through suffering” in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition.
Martyrs’ Mirror documents church history from Jesus’ time until 1660 AD. Originally, the Bearing Witness Stories Project would have produced something to fill that gap: a website, series of books or single collection of stories. But now, it has become more than that.
A few years ago, the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism at Goshen College initiated the Global Anabaptist Wiki (anabaptistwiki.org), a website to host an exchange of information and stories among Anabaptists around the world. As of now, many of the stories in the Bearing Witness project come from that site.
But the Global Anabaptist Wiki is more than a story collection. It “aspires to be the most complete resource available on topics related to martyrdom, costly discipleship, and the challenge of memory among groups in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition.”
The new site Marytrs’ Stories includes stories from all over the world. Some are just two or three years old, and some are 350
For example, the site includes a story of four Hutterite brothers who were imprisoned during World War 1, and an account of Black Kettle, a Cheyenne peace chief who helped spread the Anabaptist faith throughout the Cheyenne tribes in the late 1800s.
Charles Moore, a member of the project’s steering committee, said why he finds the
“We, in the developed West, need to be challenged to live more faithfully as disciples of Jesus,”
“While so many in non-Christian lands suffer on account of their Christian witness, we conform to and accommodate culture that relentlessly relegates Jesus to a realm that makes him and his kingdom existentially and socially irrelevant,” said Moore.
Just a few clicks into the wiki someone will find a story of a young Mennonite evangelist who worked in the Congo. Tribespeople tied him to a corpse and threatened to bury him alive unless he could raise the corpse to life, since he told them that Jesus did it.
On another page there is a collection of stories of Anabaptist conscientious objectors during World War 1. Somewhere else, there’s a story of a Mennonite Central Committee worker who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010 while returning from a clinic.
According to John D. Roth, the founder of the project, the Bearing Witness website will eventually become “a useful resource for teachers at church-related schools, Sunday schools, pastors looking for sermon illustrations …a reservoir for a variety of collections of stories directed at a spectrum of readers.”
He said the site might be important for those seeking “an entry point to the Christian faith… people who are disaffected with institutional Christianity.”
The publication of the new website will be the beginning of a new effort to collect stories in as many ways and using as many media sources as possible.