Anabaptist Baptist Martyr Hans Landis: A Brief But Fascinating Story
Hans’ exact birth-date is unknown, and no one is sure exactly when he took up the Anabaptist faith. Details are fuzzy until about the year 1608; this is when Hans was put into prison, though, by the grace of God, friends managed to extricate him. By this time he was a man of the cloth and was considered more dangerous than regular Anabaptist believers due to his dispersal of doctrine. The “Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia” states that contemporaries described Landis as having “a long black beard mixed with gray and a manly voice.” As a preacher, he must have used that booming voice much to his advantage.
When Hans was again captured, he resolutely refused to give up his beliefs. Authorities offered him the chance to leave the country; he said no. He explained that they had no power to give and take land and he would not be intimidated by their decrees. Though exile might have saved him more heartache, he remained, and he took what came.
Again the choice of emigration was given to Hans. The alternatives were dank and dismal, and many gave in. But Hans Landis did not. The hand of God facilitated another escape. Taking up ministerial duties once more was a brave but dangerous act, and he found himself once again imprisoned. This time he would not be so lucky. His family, upon learning that he was to be killed, came in full mournful array, but Hans asked them to leave. He explained that witnessing their grief had the potential to turn him from steadfast martyrdom and he could not bear for it to be so.
Hans Landis was beheaded in 1614, having chosen Christ over the joys of life and the love of family. Many American families proudly share his bloodline and keep his name and memory alive today.
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