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Pearls of the Kingdom 9/13/23

Last week I had shared with you a song titled, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” One thing that I enjoy doing is looking to see if there is a story behind the song. I have found many interesting stories over the years and this song is no different.

Looking at several hymnals I found that this song (Hymn) is not found in everyone. Only two of three that I looked at included this song. Both agreed that the words and music are unknown. Both agreed that the origin was in Assam, India.

However, there are a variety of different stories (traditions) about the origin of this hymn. All of them agree that it was written in northeastern India by someone facing persecution for his or her faith who wanted to affirm loyalty to Christ.

I have found myself challenged by this one story. Perhaps you will find yourself challenged as we look at this.

Many years ago, there was a great revival in Wales, United Kingdom. As a result of this, many missionaries came from England and Germany to North-East India to spread the Gospel. At the time, north-east India was not divided into many states as it is today. The region was known as Assam and comprised hundreds of tribes. One Welsh missionary succeeded in converting a man, his wife, and two children. This man’s faith proved contagious. Many villagers began to accept Christianity. Angry, the village chief summoned all the villagers. He then called the family who had first converted to renounce their faith in public or face execution. Moved by the Holy Spirit, the man instantly composed a song which became famous down the years. He sang:

"I have decided to follow Jesus. (3 times) No turning back, no turning back."

Enraged at the refusal of the man, the chief ordered his archers to kill the two children. As both boys lay twitching on the floor, the chief asked, “Will you deny your faith? You have lost both your children. You will lose your wife too.

”But the man replied, again singing, “Though none go with me, still I will follow. No turning back"

The chief angered by the mans faith ordered the archers to kill his wife. In a moment she joined her two children in death. Now he asked for the last time, “I will give you one more opportunity to deny your faith and live.” In the face of death, the man sang, “The cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back.” He was shot dead like the rest of his family.

But with the deaths, a miracle took place. The chief who had ordered the killings was moved by the faith of the man. In spontaneous confession of faith, he declared, “I too belong to Jesus Christ!” When the crowd heard this from the mouth of their chief, the whole village accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior.

So, I find myself having a wow moment with this story! What faith this man demonstrated. This scripture verse came to me:

Matt 10:32-33 “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.”

I must admit that I can’t fathom what this must have been like to watch as your children and wife are killed. The challenge that I am presented with, would my faith, my love for Jesus be as strong as this husband, this father?

The cost to follow Jesus, No turning back, no turning back,

Pastor Jeff

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