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Dirk Willems was an Anabaptist. This was dangerous in 1569, especially in the little town of Asperen, Holland. Many of his friends there had given their lives for their faith. Dirk himself was imprisoned in a castle for the same reason.
The castle was gated and surrounded by a moat. As winter set in, however, the moat froze over. Dirk tied some rags into a rope, slid out the window, and dropped onto the ice. Quickly he crossed the moat and raced across a meadow.
Not quickly enough. A guard saw him fleeing and went after him.
As they raced across the dutch landscape, Dirk cut across a dangerous section of ice. Though he made it across, his pursuer did not. He crashed through the ice, crying out for help.
Dirk was faced with a difficult choice. Helping his pursuer could result in torture and death. Many of his fellow Anabaptists had ended their lives in just that sort of glorious martyrdom for Christ.
Dirk proved himself a disciple. "For me to live is Christ; and to die is gain." He rescued his pursuer, pulling him from the frigid waters.
The obvious question is: did the guard let him go?
Unfortunately, though the guard was willing, the Roman Catholic burgermeister (mayor) told the guard to mind his oath, and Dirk was returned to the castle. This time they were more careful, and soon after Dirk was sent to his heavenly reward by the fires of his persecutors.
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