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Historical Writings

Today in Christian History

Sunday, March 31

1492
Queen Isabella, having compelled Muslims to convert to Christianity or leave Spain, now signs a similar decree relating to her Jewish subjects, ordering them to convert to Christianity or face expulsion. It will not actually be issued for another month and will allow three months for compliance.
1631
Death of metaphysical poet John Donne, Dean of St. Paul's. Among his most famous poems, one began with the words "Death be not proud."
1748
Isaac Backus is called to be pastor to Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He will become a notable Baptist evangelist and an advocate of religious freedom.
1783
On Easter Sunday, Fra Junipero Serra founds San Buenaventura, the ninth Spanish mission in California.
1787
English founder of Methodism John Wesley wrote in a letter: 'When the witness and the fruit of the Spirit meet together, there can be no stronger proof that we are of God.... Were you to substitute...reason for the witness of the Spirit, you would never be established.'
1799
Missionary and physician Johannes Van Der Kemp reaches South Africa. He will study the Xhosa and Khoikhoi languages and outrage European opinion by marrying a young African woman.
1816
Death near Fredericksburg of Francis Asbury, one of the first two bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States. He had preached his last sermon in Richmond, Virginia, just a week earlier.
1945
Mother Maria" Skobtsova is executed at the gas chamber in Ravensbrück. An unconventional nun of the Orthodox Church, she had been famous for helping "down and out" people, including Jews persecuted by Nazi conquerors in France. She will be declared a saint in 2004.
1950
American missionary and martyr Jim Elliot wrote in his journal: 'How the Savior suffered in the sinner's place! What tormented him in time menaces the sinner for eternity.'
1976
American Presbyterian apologist Francis Schaeffer wrote in a letter: 'You must not lose confidence in God because you lost confidence in your pastor. If our confidence in God had to depend upon our confidence in any human person, we would be on shifting sand.'

Copyright Statement
© 1987-2020, William D. Blake. Portions used by permission of the author, from "Almanac of the Christian Church"