by Norm Miller
Guards led Felix to the water's edge and into a boat. He didn't struggle against the cords binding his hands.
Piercing January winds and the prospect of freezing Alpine water failed to quell Felix's hot heart for biblical truth.
Minutes later, the guards shoved Felix's hands down over his knees and forced a stick behind them, making survival of his fate impossible.
As the murderers readied to throw Felix overboard, he cited Jesus Christ, for whose truths he was about to die, saying, "Into thy hands, O God, I commend my spirit."
Plunged beneath icy water, the body of Anabaptist Felix Manz sank as his soul bounded upward into the warm, welcoming arms of the Savior who died for him.
Manz's crime? Rejecting infant baptism as meaningless, and preaching the New Testament baptism of believers only. The Magisterial Reformers dubbed this unjust death sentence "the third baptism."
The site of Manz's martyrdom is one of several stops planned for the Anabaptist Tour 2014, led by Dr. Emir Caner, president of Truett-McConnell College.
Leaving June 11 from Atlanta on an overnight flight to Frankfurt, the tour travels June 12 to Zurich, where the "Anabaptist Tour 2014: Retracing the Sacrificial Steps of our Forefathers" begins.
Assisting Dr. Caner on the tour are two other Anabaptist scholars, Dr. Jason Graffagnino and Dr. Michael Whitlock, both professors at Truett-McConnell College.
Amid the rugged beauty of Switzerland, the lives and accomplishments of significant Anabaptists such as Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz, George Blaurock, and Michael Sattler will plant a soul-stirring conviction of evangelism in one's heart.
"When we enter the caves where our Baptist forebears secretly worshiped, and we stand at the edge of the Limmat River, where Mantz was murdered, then we'll get a tangible grasp of our Baptist heritage and of the vision we are founding at Truett-McConnell College," Dr. Caner said.
"This is important not only for the sake of our heritage, but also for the sake of those who will be martyred in this century, which will be more than in all other previous centuries combined," he added. "The Anabaptist Tour 2014 will then help us to understand and support the modern persecuted church."
Other sites include the secret compartments, where Anabaptists evaded capture, and the prison cells for those arrested for New Testament truth.
"Each of these sites will stir the soul and offer a moving reminder of the cost of discipleship that those Anabaptist believers were willing to pay," Caner said.
Other sities of historical interest and spiritual import include Vienna, Austria; Mikulov and Prague, Czech Republic; and Bonn, Germany.
The trip includes a Sunday worship service with 21st Century Anabaptists and two full days of free time to enjoy other sightseeing and souvenir shopping.
With only 18 seats available, President Caner believes the tour will reach capacity rapidly.
In addition to enhancing an appreciation for early Baptist history, the "spiritual impact is the primary reason for the Anabaptist Tour 2014," Caner said. "The experiences and information on this trip will deepen our faith and broaden our understanding of our heritage as established and purchased by the lives and deaths of our Baptist forefathers."
"When we see how far back persecution goes into our history, and the price paid for our religious liberty and the free church, we will understand that no other group paid a higher price than our predecessors, the Anabaptists," Caner said.
Manz wrote to his fellow believers not long before his death:
"Thus it shall also happen to those who do not accept Christ, but resist Him, love this world, and have not the love of God. And thus I close with this that I will firmly adhere to Christ, and trust in Him, who is acquainted with all my needs, and can deliver me out of it. Amen."