Faithfulness Under Fire: The Story of Guido de Brès, William Boekestein, Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010. Hardcover, 32 pages, $10.00 USD.
This is a book that I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time. It’s been worth the wait. William Boekestein, pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Carbondale, Pennsylvania, has written a powerful, short biography of the author of the Belgic Confession just for children. Not much has been written about the life of Guido (or Guy) de Brès, and certainly nothing in English for little ones. So, this title certainly fills a void.
Boekestein traces the life of de Brès from his birth in Mons (in present-day Belgium) to his death as a martyr in Valenciennes in 1567. Along the way, we see de Brès as a refugee in London, England and as a student in Geneva under John Calvin and others. Later we see him as a devoted pastor in the Low Countries and as a husband and father. The story is told accurately though, as to be expected in a children’s book, not comprehensively.
Evan Hughes has provided the illustrations throughout and they’re well done. I especially appreciated his reproduction of the “Wanted” poster at the beginning of the book. This is the artist’s impression of an actual poster that was circulated when de Brès was on the run from the Spanish authorities. The only information that we have about de Brès’ appearance comes from the wording of this poster.
The story is told at a grade-school level and I would envision that as such it would be useful for elementary school teachers and their church history classes. This is a story that deserves to be told well and told often. The only other remotely comparable English book is Thea Van Halsema’s older work Glorious Heretic (usually found printed with her other little book, Three Men Came to Heidelberg). Boekestein’s book is pitched at a younger audience. Meanwhile, the English Reformed world is still waiting for a full-length scholarly biography of de Brès.
Faithfulness Under Fire can be ordered directly from Reformation Heritage Books, www.heritagebooks.org