Salvation ... comes from the Lord ... because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37:39-40)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Le Rucher, Trachselwald, and Reconciliation

            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 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
            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

1 comment:

  1. patriarch Christian Martin 1669-1749. Tradition has been handed down from generation to generation that this Christian Martin was an Anabaptist minister who was imprisoned for his faith (for “Religious differences – beliefs contrary to the State Church and imprisoned in Trachselwald Castle in Switzerland from July 1717 to 1732, before being able (he was probably banished) to immigrate to America on September Sept. 21, 1732, when he arrived at Philadelphia aboard the Ship Plaisance. Christian was reunited with his sons in Weaverland, who had all immigrated to America before him. This Christian Martin was the grandfather of Bishop Henry Martin 1741-1825 who in 1809 was ordained bishop of all the Lancaster Mennonite Conference congregations including Weaverland and Groffdale of the state of Pennsylvania. (this was the era before the bishop district was sectioned off into smaller districts.)

    To my amazement when I traced back to the above-mentioned Swiss Anabaptist Mennonite Christian Martin 1669-1749; I have realized that in 348 years of my Martin family direct paternal line/history there are only 4 homestead farms and only 3 burial grounds and only 3 old meetinghouses that have ever joined/separated/supported all 10 generations of me and all my forefathers going all the way back to the year 1727 in “Weberthal” Pennsylvania. I must confess that even some family researchers and fellow church historians think I am a bit eccentric in my passion/pilgrimage, but one must understand that my farm deed went from father to son from 1830 to myself, which is extremely humbling AND the fact that I regularly get to actually walk on the farmland which my ancestors farmed here in Canada AND Weaverland PA AND attend services at all 3 meetinghouse and the adjoining burial grounds which all of my forefathers were/are so connected to (2 of which are really close to my farm in Canada) [and amazing little snippets of history ie; when I found a diary listing which shows old Bishop Jonas H. Martin 1839-1925 of PA actually coming to my farm at Elmira Ontario Canada to visit my great-grandfather and the widow of my great-great-great grandfather Deacon Moses W. Martin) However most important of all, the more I research and document the Spiritual Pilgrimage of these same ancestors, the more I am humbled and impressed all at the same time, because I have become acutely aware that I am surely “the least” among these! Please read Ecclesiastes 2:18 for TRUTH.

    Check out my little amateur Blog at

    Your Fellow Pilgrim;
    Delmer B. Martin