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Faithfulness Under Fire: the story of Guido de Brès

by William Boekestein
2010 / 32 pages

“Church history” and “picture book” are almost mutually exclusive terms, but William Boekestein, author (and URC pastor), and Evan Hugues, illustrator, show that they don’t need to be. Faithfulness under Fire is the story of Guido de Brès and how God used this man to craft the Belgic Confession.

De Brès was born in 1522, and once he learned to walk, always seemed to be on the run. Persecution drove him to leave his hometown of Mons, Belgium, and head across the Channel to England. We learn that, for the brief period of Edward VI’s reign, Protestants could find refuge here, but the king’s death prompted Guido to return to Belgium, where he became a traveling preacher. Preaching was against the law, so he was always on the move, and didn’t even dare use his real name.

About midway through the book, we see a great picture of de Brès throwing the Belgic Confession over a tall castle wall. This is where the Catholic King of Spain lived – de Brès hoped he would read the Confession and stop persecuting Protestants. That didn’t happen. But God decided to use de Brès’s efforts another way – the Confession has since spread around the world and been a gift to strengthen and instruct millions of Christians.

As you may recall, Guido de Brès was eventually captured, imprisoned and hanged. A hanging might not seem a good way to end a children’s book, but as Boekestein makes clear this was not the end of the man, but only the means by which he entered “the comfort of his Lord” (and the hanging is never pictured).

I’m not sure if this is a book children will read on their own, but the readable text and fantastic illustrations will certainly keep their attention if mom or dad reads it to them.


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Book Reviews, Children’s non-fiction

The Quest for Comfort: the story of the Heidelberg Catechism

by William Boekestein 2011, 32 pages, $10 US A while back I had the privilege of reviewing a previous children’s book by this author on the life of Guido de Brès.  I was impressed with Faithfulness Under Fire.  It was not only accurate, but also well-written and artfully illustrated.  The Quest for Comfort follows the same model and deserves the same accolades. This is a brief account of how the Heidelberg Catechism came to be.  In a simple way, Boekestein shares the stories of Caspar Olevianus, Zacharias Ursinus, and Frederick III.  He tells of how their lives came to be intertwined in that German city along the Neckar River.  Along the way we learn something about the character and structure of the Catechism.  It was designed to be a pastoral teaching tool for the youth of the church and deliberately based on the arrangement of Romans. I read The Quest for Comfort to our four children, a 3-year-old, an 8-year-old, an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old.  They all enjoyed it and it kept their attention.  Our 3-year-old daughter said, “I wuv it Daddy!” I think she probably enjoyed the pictures more than anything else.  But hey, the pictures are well done.  There’s no doubt that Evan Hughes is a gifted illustrator. Kudos to Reformation Heritage Books for publishing these excellent children’s books.  Let’s hope they make it a trilogy with one on the Canons of Dort.  Imagine that:  a children’s book on the Canons of Dort!  Writing and publishing these sorts of books helps keep up the level of confessional consciousness for generations to come.  Obviously what also helps is buying these books for and reading them to our children and grandchildren – and then, from there, teaching them to know the Catechism itself and the biblical truths it contains. ...


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