A Flame Forever Bright
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: A Flame Forever Bright
Author: Claudia Esh
Series: Early Anabaptist Series
Major Themes: Anabaptists, Dirk Willems, Netherlands, Martyrs, Family Read-alouds, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Renaissance/Reformation, 16th Century
Synopsis: When his enemy’s life was in danger, Dirk Willems saved him—and gave up his own life in the process.
About a year and a half ago, we received a book catalog in the mail from the company from which I buy most of our school books. One of my boys noticed A Flame Forever Bright in the catalog and asked if I would please order it, as he wanted to hear this story. Unfortunately, I had just placed an order for school books a day or two before, and it was too late to add to the order. Then, the next couple of times I ordered, I forgot to add this one. Finally, we have gotten to read it. What a worthwhile story!
The account of Dirk Willems is one of the most famous stories of martyrs among the Anabaptist people. His return to save his pursuer who fell through the ice, resulting in his capture and eventual burning at the stake, is a story that is told over and over as an example of Christlike love for enemies and nonresistance. It is a story that is worth hearing over and over! However, what was this man’s life like before his capture and martyrdom? We really don’t know anything for sure, but Claudia Esh has imagined what his home and family may have been like.
The story in this book is told from the point of view of Dirk’s younger sister, Lucia. Though only ten years old, Lucia was very mature, her mother’s support since the death of her father. She did much to care for her two younger sisters and keep the household going so her mother could weave ribbons to earn the money needed for survival. Of course, Dirk was the main provider for the family as he bleached linen. When he was arrested for his illegal activity, which was having religious meetings in his home, the whole family suffered. Lucia struggled to understand—and she also struggled with feelings of hatred toward the thief catcher. How could she ever do as Dirk asked her to, and forgive?
A Flame Forever Bright is very moving. All ages will benefit from reading or hearing it. Little children will need guidance if the story is read aloud to the family; I didn’t realize until lately how much my 4-year-old was catching from what I read. When we read the chapter about Dirk’s recapture, she came to me in tears, trying to understand. She had caught enough of the story to know that Dirk was not being treated kindly. I took this as an opportunity to teach her—and any of the older children who were listening—what the Bible says about suffering for Jesus. Suffering is not pleasant, even to read about, but suffering for Jesus leads to a glorious end. So, be aware, if you read this one aloud, which I recommend, you may need to spend some time discussing hard issues with your children. It is a great opportunity to teach truths they will need as they mature. This is a valuable resource to build faith in people of all ages. It is best for older children and adults; preteens could read it for themselves, but might need parental guidance.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults
Links to buy A Flame Forever Bright:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Keywords: Anabaptists, Dirk Willems, Netherlands, Martyrs, Family Read-alouds, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Renaissance/Reformation, 16th Century