A godly woman named Soetgen van den Houte fell into the hands of the same persecutors that her husband had fallen into previously. She was left a widow with three children. After experiencing the assaults and imprisonments described before in this volume by others who shared like sufferings and martyrdom, she witnessed to the Saviour she professed and sealed it with her blood and death November 1560, in the city of Ghent.
Just prior to her death, Soetgen left a testament to her children:
In the name of the Lord:
‘Grace, peace and mercy from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, be to you, my dear children. A loving salutation to you, David, Betgen, and Tanneken, written by your mother in bonds, to put you in mind of the truth, to which I hope to testify by word and by death, by the help of the Almighty, and as an example to you. May the wisdom of the Holy Spirit instruct and strengthen you, that you may be nurtured in the ways of the Lord. Amen.
Further my dear children, since it is pleasing to the Lord to take me out of the world, I will leave you a momento, not of silver or gold, for such jewels are perishable. I would fain inscribe a jewel in your heart were it possible–the word of truth. Thus I will a little teach you by the Word of the Lord, with my best wishes, according to the small ability I have received of the Lord, and in my simplicity.’
At this point, Soetgen began to exhort her children to fear the Lord and to yield themselves to those who would teach them godliness. She desired for them not to pursue riches and temporal things of life but to live humbly and uprightly, walking in the ways of the Lord. She warned them that the world is seductive and “that men find much more earth of which to make earthen vessels, than gold of which to make golden vessels; and like as the great waters of the sea are more than the drops, so will they be the greater number that be condemned.”
Soetgen concluded by saying, “Oh! My dear children, I have written this with tears, admonishing you from love, praying for you with a fervent heart, that if it were possible, you may be found among that number (the redeemed). When your father was taken from me I did not spare myself, day or night, to bring you up; and my prayer arid care continually was for your salvation; and being now in bonds it has always been my greatest concern that I could not, according to my anxious desire, better provide for you.”
After commending the children to her family and to the Lord, Soetgen concluded her letter and was soon reunited with her husband in the presence of the Lord.
A godly mother is a priceless jewel. May we see godly Christian homes established across our nation and the world. God grant that godly mothers be multiplied who will glorify Christ in life and in death.
T. J. Van Braght, trans.. and Edward Bean Underhill, ed., A Martyrology of the Churches of Christ Commonly Called Baptists (London: J. Haddon and Son, 1853), 2:289-90.
lbid., p. 292.
Ibid., p. 293.