The first American martyred by the communists
John Birch, on August 25, was martyred by Chinese communist soldiers near the end of World War II, in Hsuchow, China. His influence had spread over hundreds of miles where he was known to the nationals as “Bey Shang We“, a title of respect. John Birch had gone to China, after finishing a three year course in two years at the Bible Baptist Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas, the Fundamentalist school sponsored by Dr. J. Frank Norris, Pastor of the First Baptist Church, and the World Baptist Fellowship. He had gone there after graduating from Mercer University in 1939, magna cum laude. In one year John could speak Chinese. After Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese attempted to arrest him, but he escaped. He gave himself to the preaching of the gospel and to the encouraging of the saints as he traveled in war-torn China. While traveling to minister to suffering believers, John was put in touch with Col. Jimmy Doolittle and the four airmen from his plane that he had to ditch in China after their bombing raid on Tokyo. It was Birch that led them to safety. At that point he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served as the Intelligence Officer for Gen. Charles Chennault. He was able, because of his knowledge of the language and culture to help in setting up radio contacts. John knew the dangers of communism and witnessed its inroads. John’s parents were Presbyterian missionaries in India on Sept. 12, 1918, when John was born. Because of recurring malaria George Birch moved his family back to the states, became a Baptist, and moved to Macon, Georgia where John received Christ at the age of eleven.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 350-52.
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Posted: 09 Feb 2014 02:11 PM PST
Hille Cliff today
Oldest Baptist church
on earth (in England)
Baptists in 14th Century England
1830 – HILL CLIFFE CHURCH – COUNTY OF CHESTER -THE OLDEST BAPTIST CHURCH IN GREAT BRITAIN – 1357 – James Bradford died on February 10, 1830, Pastor of the Baptist church at Hill Cliffe in the County of Chester, one of the oldest Baptist churches known in Great Britain dating back to 1357 found on a gravestone located near the ancient chapel. The members suffered greatly during the reign of the bloody Queen Mary, because on June 27, 1558, Roger Holland was martyred for his faith in Christ. Apparently it was at that time that a hole about four yards long and three yards wide was made in the sandstone beneath the chapel as a haven for those fleeing their persecutors. An outdoor baptistery of stone was uncovered when the chapel was rebuilt in 1800 showing that immersion had long been practiced. The earliest minister identified by a deed was a Mr. Weyerburton, who served the church until his death in 1594. The church had prospered under Bradford now that the days of persecution was past and according to the Baptist Magazine of July 1880, more than 1,600 came to the funeral which was preached by Moses Fisher of Liverpool which had to be conducted outside. On the gravestone it said that he was ordained Oct. 12, 1820 and was 44 years of age, Exemplary: His Ministry Useful: His Death Happy.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 56.
Hille Cliffe Baptist Church web site:
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Eleven Baptists martyred for Christ
1943 – Eleven Baptist missionaries suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Japanese on the Island of Panay in the Philippines during World War II. As the Japanese troops approached, all Americans fled to the mountains. Businessmen, miners, their families, and the missionaries fled as best they could. The eleven included – Dr. and Mrs. Frederick W. (Ruth) Meyer, Miss Jennie Adams, James Howard and Charma Covell, Erle F. and Louise Rounds and son Earl Douglas Rounds, Francis H. and Gertrude Rose, Miss Signe Erickson and Miss Dorothy Dowell. The group was initially successful in their effort, and a letter from Mr. Covell arrived at the mission board office in March 1944 having come through a circuitous route. The letter had been written on May 16, 1943, and was addressed from “Hopevale,” the name they had given their hideaway. The Provost Marshal General’s office in Washington gave a brief report on the Covell’s death on March 20, 1944, however final confirmation was received from Mr. Engracio C. Alora, the General Secretary of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches, in a letter dated April 11, 1945, in which it was officially stated that all eleven missionaries had been slaughtered on December 20, 1943, though captured on the 19th. The local Baptist pastor had gotten to the camp as soon as it was safe, and had interred the bodies. The missionaries were told that they were under the death warrant. They asked if they might first have time to pray, and an hour was spent before the throne of grace. They then stood and declared that they were ready, and the shade drops on this awful crime.
[This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 694-96. Jesse R. Wilson, Through Shining Archay(Valley Forge, Pa.: Board of International Ministers of the American Baptist Churches, 1949), p.5.]
Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
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Four generations pastor the same church
Edward Wightman was the last Englishman to be martyred on April 11, 1612 for heresy. He was considered a radical Anabaptist. Five Wightman brothers came to America, all Baptists – two were preachers; two were deacons; one a private member of the church. Valentine Wightman was the son of one of the five and was born in Kingston, Rhode Island, in 1681. In 1705 his church licensed him to preach and he moved to Groton, Connecticut, and planted the First Baptist church in the colony of CT. His fame spread after a seven hour debate with Rev. John Bulkey in 1727 on the subject of Baptism. In 1714 he planted the First Baptist church in the state of N.Y. Valentine died on June 9, 1747, after ministering 42 years in Groton. The church at Groton continued under the ministry of Valentine’s son Timothy Wightman who saw great revivals from time to time from 1764 to 1787. A second Baptist church was established in Groton in 1765. Timothy served during the Revolutionary War and stood for the defense of liberty. He died on Nov. 14, 1796 after having also served for 42 years in the same church that his father had founded. His son, John Gano Wightman accepted the call to the church on Aug. 13, 1800. His first wife died in 1816 and on July 7, 1817, he married Bridget Allyn who served faithfully by his side. The church experienced at least ten seasons of refreshing revival during this time. Another church was established in Groton in 1831. John died on July 13, 1841 and thus concluded 125 years of ministry by grandfather, father, and son who led the work in Groton, CT. Interestingly, on June 12, 1864 the Rev. Palmer G. Wightman, grandson of the Rev. John Gano Wightman, was ordained pastor of the Groton church, and a great revival broke out.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp.278-79.
He had forsaken the priesthood
Jan. 17, 1525, was the first time that George Blaurock is heard of, and that is in connection with a discussion of the Anabaptists concerning infant baptism. The very basis of soul liberty is at the very heart of this issue. This was clearly seen by the Anabaptists before and after the Reformation. Pilgram Marpeck said, “By infant baptism men coerce people to enter the Kingdom of God; and yet there should be no coercion there…” The repudiation of infant baptism in Jan. 1525, led to the banishment of Ludwig Hetzer, William Reublin, and others, and to the imprisonment of Conrad Grebel, Blaurock and Felix Manz. Blaurock had been a monk, but had renounced the religion of ritual for one of reality. Following the deaths of Grebel and Manz he had become a leader among the Swiss Anabaptists, until he was burned at the stake. He was martyred because “…he had forsaken the priesthood, he disregarded infant baptism, he rejected the mass; he rejected the confession of the priests, and the mother of Christ is not to be invoked or worshipped.” At the place of execution he earnestly spoke to the people, and pointed them to the scriptures. In his death he exemplified one of the hymns he had written: “Blessed are those in all tribulation who cling to Christ to the end.” He was known as the second Paul and the “Hercules of the Anabaptists.” Another Blaurock hymn: “As he himself our suffering bore; When hanging on the accursed tree; So there is suffering still in store; O pious heart, for you and me.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. IIII: Cummins, pp. 35-36.