Faith descendants trace footsteps of first AnabaptistsBy Tim Huber Mennonite World Review
ZURICH, Switzerland — Walking along the bank of the Limmat River, Thioro Bananzoro pondered the challenges Anabaptists have turned into opportunities over the last five centuries.
Pausing by the statue of militant Reformed Church leader Ulrich Zwingli on a tour of Zurich during Mennonite World Conference General Council meetings, the delegate from the Evangelical Mennonite Church of Burkina Faso noted that how a Christian responds to trials can have long-lasting effects.
His own experience started in his Muslim family. The oldest of 23 children, he suffered for 17 years after he became a Christian because his father did not consider Christians to be pure.
Bienenberg Seminary history professor and tour leader Hanspeter Jecker noted a tension that has accompanied Anabaptists around the world in their interactions with neighbors or the state since Anabaptism started in 1525. Does one be radical and leave, or stay and work for local change?
Bananzoro stayed and worked for change in a different way than Zwingli, whose statue depicts him with a Bible and a sword, representing his death in battle.
“My dad even totally changed his mind,” he said. “What he noticed from me is totally different from what he thought about Christians.”
Though Bananzoro’s father is still Muslim, 10 of the 23 children are now Christians.
“My father says to his children, ‘If you cannot be a good Muslim, follow your older brother,’ ” Bananzoro said.
On working to bring people to reconciliation in his West African context, Bananzoro said a Christian should be a witness because people trust what they see more than what they hear.
“People can really persecute you,” he said. “If you don’t fight back — even if you don’t succeed — people will understand and say your God is powerful. This is why we should not fight back.”
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