How are courage and humility shown?

Last year, we Mennonites and the U.N. lost MJ (Michael) Sharp to rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo. By all accounts, he was tough as nails, sometimes lonely, but absolutely determined to help people solve difficult problems using peace and justice.


But I imagine that many of his days were hum drum, just like ours: ‘get this person together with that person to work out today’s problem; call an organization to cajole cooperation or funding; be sure to pay proper attention to the political higher-ups who can make or break your project; visit an undertaking that is being manned by good people; spend a moment with a friend; sleep.’

And in MJ Sharp’s case, die.

One of the definitions of ‘martyr’ in is: a person who is put to death or endures great suffering on behalf of any belief, principle, or cause.

We are in awe of martyrs, who by definition have given more than ordinary people. They are praised in all religions and occupations. We can name martyrs and saints in political and social justice spheres, and often we  speak of them in hushed tones.

Most of us will not die for our efforts to make the world a better place, of course, but we do practice courage and humility every day:

-the friend who finds either the right words to say, or at times, the strength to let silence happen when the group gossips about someone who has no power.

-the teacher who with humor and organization walks into classrooms and searches for value in each student, while providing real content and encouraging students to develop self-discipline.

                                                                             Tra Nguyen on Unsplash

-the student who does homework. Doing homework takes humility to begin, and courage to finish. And homework lasts for years and years. Quiet Courage indeed.

                                                                            Brad Neathery on Unsplash

-the consumer who is being pushed by a business person to sign or buy, when something seems wrong, and who steps back and says ‘No.’ Just that, ‘No.’ But without anger or recrimination.

-the mother or father who puts dinner on the table after a rough day, and presides over the dinner, asking questions and producing conversation when no personal energy is left in her/his body.

-and always, the voluntary service person; always, those who volunteer. Everywhere, choirs of angels sing for them.

                                                                               Alex Radelich on Unsplash

By the way, lest you fear that your attitude is not pure enough to claim everyday quiet humility, consider George Blaurock of the Radical Reformation. From my reading, it appears that Blaurock—a fiery orator and one of the courageous founders of Swiss Anabaptism—was mad as a hornet as they beat him all the way out of the gates of Zürich on January 5, 1527. He was ‘–a fearless and successful evangelist–‘ (1) and the authorities couldn’t make him stop preaching until they caught, tortured, then burned him.

He could be rude, and he demanded to speak, (2) but he did have humility; it was in serving his God.

Verse #10 of Blaurock’s Song #30 reads: ‘I cannot build on the flesh, it is weak by nature, I will trust in your word, that is my comfort and refuge. And because I have given up myself, you will help me in all need, to your peace.’ (3) (boldface type, mine)

I have trouble imagining that anyone ever said courage and humility are easy.

Best wishes and have a good week. Loving and caring thoughts to our students.


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  1. (pg. 87, Through Fire & Water by Loewen and Holt, with Duerksen and Yoder: Herald Press)
  2. (pg. 11-12, Through Fire & Water by Loewen and Holt, with Duerksen and Yoder: Herald Press)
  3. (from Early Anabaptist Spirituality: Selected Writings, translated, edited, and with an introduction by Daniel Liechty: Paulist Press)

{Thank you to my niece, Addie Liechty, for taking the picture above that is this newsletter’s featured image. Her blog is:}


Greta Holt

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