Last month my wife and I took a trip to Europe. We visited Le Rucher Ministries for a week where I participated in training with a model of debriefing for missionaries. Le Rucher http://lerucher.org offers an excellent program for missionaries and Christian leaders to process changes and events in their lives to help them effectively continue their service.
Because our visit took us to Switzerland, we decided to explore some of the sites related to what is known in Church history as the Reformation. The Anabaptists (re-baptisers) are traced back to Zurich where the first adult baptism took place on Januray 21, 1525 near the Great Munster cathedral then pastored by Ulrich Zwingli. Because Anabaptist beliefs conflicted with the state-run church, they endured severe persecution for their faith and many were forced to flee their homeland to take refuge elsewhere. Some of them came all the way to America to find freedom to practice their religious faith. Lancaster County Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers were mostly among this group of freedom seekers.
Desiring to research more of my own faith and family roots, last year I discovered the maternal side of my family has a direct link to a Martin family who fled Switzerland eleven generations ago. Before arriving in Lancaster to join his sons who had arrived earlier, Christian Martin had spent time in a prison notorious as a place of martyrdom for many of his church brethren. The prison is located in the tower of a castle in the Emmental region called Trachselwald Castle. On the 19th of January we visited this castle.
The castle is being preserved as a memorial to the sacrifices many have made for their faith. The prison tower remains today in the condition it existed hundreds of years ago. It was a very humbling experience for me to visit the place where my ancestor spent time under very oppressive circumstances.
In recent years Anabaptist and Reform church leaders have been involved in reconciliation efforts to mend the wounds caused by this type of darkness in our history. Efforts are being made to preserve Trachselwald castle specifically as a place to facilitate healing and restoration of life-affirming cooperation for expressions of faith in the Church. See more about the Trachselwald castle at http://trachselwald-castle.ch/
In 2011, before I knew details about Anabaptist persecution, the Trachselwald castle, and my family ties to it, I authored a book on the topic of forgiveness and reconciliation. Very similar to the effects of physical imprisonment, the human heart is bound in a spiritual prison which we can escape from through the power of the death and resurrecton of Jesus Christ. When we are willing to admit our lost and imprisoned condition of heart, Christ is able to free us from all effects of sin, hurts, wounds, mistreatments, and abuses. The afflicting pain in our heart can be exchanged at the Cross.
My book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart explains more about how to discover things that may be unknowingly (or knowingly) burdening you, and how to surrender them to Christ. You can obtain a copy online. You can contact me about the book or if you are looking for help to process difficult circumstances in your life. If you are a Christian pastor, missionary, or ministry leader, I would especially encourage you not to delay reaching out for the help available.
by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry