During the time when John Calvin left the doctrine of the Catholic church, a large group of youth in the city of Geneva, who also broke with Rome, surrendered their entire lives to the Lord to spread the Gospel.
One day, in the middle of winter, a special service was held in the church. After prayers and exhortations, hands were laid upon a young man who was reverently bowing his head. Louis of Marsac was ordained as a preacher and missionary in order to travel to his homeland of France and share the Bread of Life.
Calvin preached a sermon using the text: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matthew 10:16). In the crowded church, many were moved to tears, although none were related to him by blood, for Louis had been brought to Geneva in his early childhood by his father, who had long since passed away. Though not family by birth, they were all joined together as the family of God.
Louis of Marsac also had a very dear friend, and saying goodbye to him was very hard. Louis’ heart was very moved by leaving so many dear friends behind, but he was also very thankful for all the love shown to him by everyone.
Courageously, he traveled to France. He was driven by his greatest longing, which was to enlighten his countrymen about the heresies of the Catholic church. He was well aware that this mission carried dangers, but his heart burned with the love of God, a love that held nothing back.
When Louis arrived in Lyon, he preached secretly in a small congregation of heretics, as they were referred to by the Catholic church. He avoided his relatives at first, to prevent causing them trouble, but his cousin heard that Louis was there and got in touch with him. His heart was open to the Gospel, and before long, he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. Louis was overjoyed that one of his cousins had found the Lord.
Soon, this situation turned bad. The government discovered Louis’ mission work, and he and his cousin were put in prison. They would receive their sentence shortly if they did not give up their “heretical faith.”
When the brothers and sisters in Geneva heard this, they were very sad. Calvin’s heart was also very burdened, as he had sent this young man to the mission field, and now he was facing death. But it was not Calvin that had sent him, it was Jesus. And this Jesus would also give Louis the strength to die for Him.
Norbert, a friend of Louis, risked traveling to Lyon to see his friend one more time. He successfully entered the dark prison cell as a servant and had a few minutes to say goodbye to his friend.
As he entered the prison cell, he saw a figure lying on the floor, but he could hardly recognize his friend.
“Louis!” stammered Norbert, “Louis!”—“Who are you?”—Without a doubt, that was Louis’ voice, which sounded so weak. – “Louis, I am Norbert, your friend!”
In the darkness, a cold hand searched for the hand of his friend. Then two emaciated arms reached around his neck. It was quiet for some time. Louis, the steadfast, bold witness who did not fear torture nor burning, was sobbing against the chest of his friend like a child.
Then he became somewhat energetic, yes, even cheerful, and rejoiced over the crown of life that was awaiting him. “Yes, now it is a crown of thorns,” said Norbert, who was only thinking about the pain and the meaning of the words. – “And an indescribably sweet fellowship with Him, who wore the crown of thorns for me,” answered Louis.
He then continued: “I have come to the point that I love darkness. It is like a veil wherein God is wrapped so that His glory does not overwhelm me. He lives in the darkness, even if He is the Light. And this is my comfort.” – These two friends still shared a few words. And Louis’ joyful endurance of his pain in prison and even his impending death made a deep impression on his young friend.
Norbert remained in Lyon until he saw his friend die as a victorious martyr. Yes, this young man, who could have had an easy and good life and who was loved by so many, treasured the pain he was able to suffer for his Savior. His death brought him to his Savior in glory, and his example inspired his young friend, who years later also gave up his life entirely for the Lord.