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Stories from Martyrs' Mirror | 3. Waiting

3. Waiting

After each of the six prisoners was questioned, they were put back into a common cell, where they began to converse with one another:

Two of the sisters, Haddie Byler and young Elisabeth van Roder, lived in the same house. So did two of the brothers, a shoemaker named Dirk Willems and his partner Hans Segers.

The other two prisoners were George Baumann and Anna Timmermanns. Anna's husband had been arrested the day before, and to her sorrow was being held in another part of the prison.

"Oh Lord, when will this foreign oppression cease?" murmured George, a thin fiery man.

"The true power behind it is not the Spaniards, but the devil himself," replied Hans:

"Remember, the city of Zurich, which boasts of the light of the Reformation, was one of the first to put our brothers to death."

"Yet you must agree the false zeal of the Spanish rulers has led to the deaths of many more here," added George:

"In their homeland, they were so harsh toward the Jews, that the Jews thought it better to live among the Muslim Turks than among the Christian Spaniards. A shame!"

"True, but the Dean of Ronse, who arrested us, is not Spanish, is he?" commented Dirk with a smile. "No, the devil seeks to use our own tolerant Flemish and Dutch people to put an end to us, but God intends it for our good. Blessed be His name."

"Let us encourage each other while we can," interjected Elisabeth, a teenaged girl who nevertheless was becoming mighty in the Word. "Do they usually leave us all together in one cell?"

"Not for long," answered Hans, who had prepared himself for this day:

"They seek to divide and discourage us. They will bring us clever preachers, who will falsely quote the Word to persuade us that we have been deceived.

Beware, Elisabeth, they may tell you that Haddie has turned back, while they tell Haddie that you have turned back."

"If they do, I won't believe it," answered Haddie sensibly.

"Good," laughed Dirk, but then he grew more serious:

"What they want most of all are the names of our brethren. And they will not only press our minds until they get names, they will torment our bodies again. Let us all pray for strength in our time of temptation."

And spontaneously, the six prisoners began calling on the name of the Lord for His help.

When they had finished praying, Dirk asked, "Elisabeth, by what means did our Saviour bring you to Himself? Then Haddie, would you tell us the same?"

Elisabeth and Haddie looked at each other and smiled. Then shyly, Elisabeth began to speak: