The Day the Heroes Died
On January 31, 1561 the Anabaptist leader Menno Simons, for whom Mennonites are named, died in Wustenfeld, Germany. Menno Simons grew up and became a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. Although he learned some Greek and Latin while studying the Latin Church Father’s he confesses that he never studied the Bible out of fear that he would be adversely affected by it, even after initially becoming a priest in the Church. He referred to this period of his life as stupid. Upon hearing of the beheading of a “re-baptizer,” Simons began to study the Scriptures and came to believe that infant baptism was nowhere to be found in the Bible. On January 12, 1536 he rejected the Catholic Church’s teaching and became a prominent leader in the Anabaptist movement. William Estep refers to the Anabaptist’s as having three periods: Before Menno, Under Menno, and After Menno.
Likewise, on January 31, 1892, the “Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, one of the greatest public preachers of his day, died at Mentone, France. Although he never attended theological school, he was the most popular preacher in London by the age of twenty-one. To this day he is still one of the most prominently read pastors in the Church. During his life he not only was a pastor, but a songwriter, book author, editor of a monthly church magazine, founder of a pastor’s college, and an orphanage manager. Concerning the gravity of preaching and the conversion of the lost, Spurgeon said:
“Often, when I come in at the door and my eyes fall on this vast congregation, I feel a tremor go through me to think that I should have to speak to you all and be, in some measure, accountable for your future state. Unless I preach the Gospel faithfully and with all my heart, your blood will be required at my hands. Do not wonder, therefore, that when I am weak and sick, I feel my head swim when I stand up to speak to you, and my heart is often faint within me. But I do have this joy at the back of it all— God does set many sinners free in this place! Some people reported that I was mourning that there were no conversions. Brothers and Sisters, if you were all to be converted tonight, I should mourn for the myriads outside! That is true, but I praise the Lord for the many who are converted here. When I came last Tuesday to see converts, I had 21 whom I was able to propose to the Church—and it will be the same next Tuesday, I do not doubt. God is saving souls! I am not preaching in vain. I am not despondent about that matter—liberty is given to the captives and there will be liberty for some of them, tonight! I wonder who it will be? Some of you young women over yonder, I trust. Some who have dropped in here, tonight, for the first time. Oh, may this first opportunity of your hearing the Word in this place be the time of beginning a new life which shall never end—a life of holiness, a life of peace with God!”