The Secret Mission, another Huguenot Tale

The Secret Mission: A Huguenot’s Dangerous Adventures in the Land of Persecution, by A. Van der Jagt (Inheritance Publications, 1992), pb., 187 pp.

This is the sequel to The Escape, which I have reviewed previously. We enjoyed this sequel as much as we did the original. In this one, John and Manette have settled into their life in Holland. John has a job working for a Dutch official. The Dutch government has been secretly helping the Huguenots who are being persecuted in France, but war is coming btw the two countries. John is sent with a Dutch official on a government mission to the French government, but John also has several secret missions to accomplish. He ends up having to work his way across the country in search of his father who in the last book was sentenced to life on the galleys. He encounters various hardships and adventures along the way. Throughout the book the reader learns about the suffering of the Huguenots and of their eventual armed resistance.

Reading this book (and the previous one) has meant so much more to my boys than simply telling them the bare facts of what happened to the Huguenots. Through this book the experiences of these brave people have become real to them. Their story opens up many examples of perseverance and faith under trial. One example was particularly moving for us. Along the way John encountered a group of Huguenot prisoners- elderly and children included- who are being harassed by the inhabitants of a town they are being marched through. At this point the author includes a true account of Huguenot resilience in the face of suffering:

After the priest with his followers had gone, the town women became very offensive. Their leader was a heavy-set hag with a shrill, loud voice. She began to revile the Huguenots again and to dance in front of them shaking her fists. This did not seem to satisfy her, for suddenly she stopped, bent down, grabbed some mud from the street, and slung it in the face of one of the Huguenot men. The other women followed her example, and in a very short time, all of them, including their children, began to throw mud at the faces of the Huguenots. Soon the small Huguenot children began to cry, holding their mud-smeared hands and arms before their eyes.
At that moment, John heard the old man with the white hair tell the Huguenots to fall on their knees, and to call upon the Lord. He led them in prayer with a loud, bright voice that could be heard clearly and the others joined him. “Gracious God, who seest the wrongs to which we are hourly exposed, give us strength to bear them, and to forgive in charity those who wrong us. Strengthen us from good even unto better. Amen.”

Astonished, the women and children stopped their yelling, and apparently embarrassed, dropped their mud balls on the ground. After the prayer, one of the Huguenots began to sing Psalm 116, and after the first words, the whole group sang with him. (pp. 130-131)

The account goes on to mention how the lead woman came up to the old man begging for forgiveness and how he gave it. Then she told the others watching that the authorities had lied to them when they told them that the Huguenots were heretics and bad people. She pointed to their faith and willingness to forgive as proof that they were indeed followers of Christ. This sort of testimony is a powerful reminder of the effect of living out the gospel.

This is a great book and we recommend it strongly. The writing is not at the same level of C.S. Lewis or Allen French, but it is effective. My boys and I all really enjoyed the book. The adventure and suspense was compelling and the truths behind it all were very good. This is a great way to introduce your children to good reading and the brave people known as Huguenots.

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