Book Review~ Night Preacher by Louise A. Vernon

This is a book about Menno Simons, who became the leader of the Anabaptists, now known as Mennonites. Menno was born in the Frisian ( a coastal region along the southeastern corner of the North Sea in what today is mostly a large part of the Netherlands, including modern Friesland, and smaller parts of northern Germany.)  town of Whitmarsum, in 1496,  which is in the Netherlands.

** Little is known about Menno’s childhood and home. His parents were probably dairy farmers. Menno may have received his training in a nearby monastery. He had some knowledge of the church fathers, knew Latin and a little Greek but no Hebrew.

Menno Simons - engraving by Jacob BurghartMenno was consecrated  a (Catholic) priest at Utrecht, in 1524. For twelve years (1524-1536) he served as a parish priest, first for seven years in his father’s village Pingjum, later for five years in Witmarsum. He would later write about how he and his fellow priests lived an easy going life, spending their time “playing cards, drinking, and in diversions as, alas, is the fashion and usage of such useless people”. quoted from:http://www.mennosimons.net/life.html

This story is told from the viewpoint of Bettje, Menno’s daughter, who is about 10 years old at the time.  Since the Catholic church was in control of things at the time, severe persecution was part of the risk of being an Anabaptist in parts of the Netherlands, and this book tells of the constant danger Menno and his family were in, simply for speaking the Gospel, and telling people the truth about what Jesus REALLY says in the Bible. Since it was against the man-made law to practice any religion except the Catholic one, most of Menno’s preaching and teaching was done at night, in in country fields, attics or barns, or secret house meetings.  There was always the danger of neighbors spying on Anabaptists, and turning them over to the Catholics, so meetings had to be arranged in strict secrecy.  Sometimes, though, there were untrustworthy people in the groups, and eventually, this would lead to Menno and his family having to pack up everything and sneak out of the city and move to another safer abode.

During one move, someone told about the Hollanders who were draining marshy land in Oberland, and establishing whole villages of no one but Anabaptists.  This was exciting news, being able to have a self-contained community where they could worship Jesus Christ properly, without fear of persecution or martyrdom.

**http://www.mennosimons.net/life.html

Hermes Micron, John a Lasco, and Gellius Faber, and the Muensterites are also mentioned in this book.  You might find it interesting and valuable to your store of knowledge to find out more about them.  This is a good introductory book for young teens and older children, to learn about Anabaptist’s/Mennonite’s  beginnings.

Product details

  • Age Range: 9 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 – 7
  • Series: Louise A. Vernon
  • Paperback: 134 pages
  • Publisher: Herald Press (September 11, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0836117743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0836117745
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches

 

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