I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

“Decide (verb): come to resolution in the mind as a result of consideration.”

“Consequence (noun): the effect, result, or outcome of something occurring earlier.” So says dictionary.com.

Every decision has consequences, whether big or small, good or bad.  Some things happen to us because of decisions we make.  Some things happen to us because of decisions other people make.  Most of us heard a lot about consequences as we were growing up .  I know I did, and so did my kids.

My earliest recollection of singing “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” is at summer camp, singing with friends around a campfire.  We sang casually, not giving much thought to the words of the song, and certainly having no idea to the story behind the song.  In later years, I knew people who would not sing the song because they felt the text emphasized a human decision instead of divine grace.  I don’t think they knew the story behind the song either.

The text of the song is based on the last words of a man who lived in a region of India called Assam (which later gave the tune its name, ASSAM).  In the middle 1800s, the tribes who lived in this area were known to be aggressive head hunters, yet there were missionaries who made the decision to preach the gospel in that dangerous place. As a consequence of their preaching, one particular native family decided to profess their faith in Christ and be baptized.   The man of the house decided to share his experience with others in his community, and as a consequence, additional families came to Christ.  The village leaders were not pleased and decided to make an example out of this family by demanding they renounce Christ or face the consequence of execution. The believer declared, “I have decided to follow Jesus.”  As a consequence of his statement of faith, the man saw his two children and wife executed as he continued to say, “Though none go with me, still I will follow.”  The man was executed as he said his final words, “The cross before me, the world behind me.”  The example of faith demonstrated by the family so moved the village leaders that they began to open their hearts to the gospel and revival broke out in the village.  Those that had executed the first converts had now become converts themselves.

As this story became widely known, Indian evangelist Sadhu Singh decided to take the martyr’s words and pair them with a traditional tune to create one of the first uniquely Indian hymns.  As a consequence of Singh’s work, the words and testimony of a man from a remote village in India are known world-wide.

Obviously, most of the decisions we make are small and inconsequential compared to the ones made by the Indian family from Assam.  Still, we make daily decisions with eternal consequences. Think about it.  Pray about it.

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