This woman is one of my biggest heroes. Her story is one of many stories in Christian history that is a glorious testimony to the power of a consecrated life; a life yielded to our God. Taken from my upcoming book, I want to share her story with you....so that you will burn for the name of Jesus Christ!
Maeyken Wens was a young woman who lived in the city of Antwerp in Belgium. She was the wife of a minister and mother of two sons. Known for her faithfulness and devout commitment to the Lord, she was loved by all and considered a God-fearing and pious woman of God. On a spring day in April, in 1573, Maeyken was taken and confined in the severest prison in the city. While in prison, she was pressed and demanded to apostatize her faith. She refused.
She wrote many letters in the following months.
In a letter to her husband, Mattheus, she wrote: We ought to thank the Lord in adversity as well as in that which is agreeable to the flesh; for if the Lord takes all from us, He takes from us no more than what He has lent us, for it belongs to us no longer….Oh that I could always thank the Lord as well when the flesh suffers adversity, as when it prospers - then we can thank the Lord indeed…
Truly the Lord has said, "He that does not forsake everything is not worthy of me;" for the Lord well knew that it would come hard to the flesh. But I hope that the Lord will also help me through even as He has helped many, and for which I can simply trust Him. Oh, how easy it is to be a Christian, so long as the flesh is not put to the trial, or nothing has to be relinquished; then it is an easy thing to be a Christian.
Through months of severe torture, she continued to remain steadfast and unmovable. Her faith did not falter throughout physical torments, and no matter how many tried to persuade her to renounce the name of Christ, she would not be swayed. After six months, her sentence finally came and she was to be burned at the stake in the public square of the prison. The execution was to be carried out within twenty-four hours.
Though trembling in the flesh, Maeyken was fearless in spirit. That night, she wrote a final farewell. To faithful friend and fellow Christian, she wrote: I do not have much, and hence I cannot give much. And now I can also not write much, because I have been sentenced; nevertheless I was so full of joy, that I should not be able to express it with the mouth, the Lord be forever praised for, the great grace He has shown me, who has feared so much. Oh, what a strong God we have, compared with what we see the wicked have. Oh, let us have good courage; we shall devour our enemies like bread.
To her eldest son, Adriaen, she wrote: Oh, regard not the great multitude, or the ancient custom, but look at the little flock, which is persecuted for the word of the Lord, for the good persecute none, but are persecuted.…My dear son, be not afraid of this suffering; it is nothing compared to that which shall endure forever. The Lord takes away all fear…
The following morning, she was brought out for her execution.
To prevent her from testifying to the crowd or singing songs of praise, her tongue was fastened to her palate with an iron screw. While the witnesses gathered, she was placed at the stake and then burned to ashes. Her son, Adriaen, was among the onlookers. However, he lost consciousness and remained on the ground until the execution had been carried out. When he awoke, he went to the place where his mother had been burnt and dug into the ashes until he found the screw which had held fastened his mother’s tongue shut. He kept it in remembrance of her.
Maeyken Wens was a true heroine and valiant servant of Jesus Christ. While most people would have tried every excuse to avoid such a horrific death, Maeyken did not flinch at the verdict. Though many would have begged for mercy, she did not. Her name lives on to this day.
It goes without saying that men and women like Maeyken Wens had tapped into a supernatural, unexplained power that transformed their very existence and shook the watching world. They were unmovable followers of Christ. In the midst of intense pain and torture, they fixed their focus upon the God they had forsaken all to serve. While we boast of our faithful attendance at Church, they risk everything simply by believing. While we shy away from persecution, they welcome it as a privilege. While we think of every plea bargain and loophole to prevent any discomfort, they stand firm upon the Word of God that says “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us”