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Hymn History: “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”

2 min

More than 100 years ago, northern India was a very superstitious region. Following a great revival in Wales, Welsh missionaries journeyed to the Assam area in northeast India to bring the Gospel to tribes of idol-worshipping headhunters.

In one village, one of those fierce headhunters listened to a missionary, and his heart grasped the Good News of Christ. Not only did he believe, but his wife and two sons also became Christians. As the redeemed man eagerly shared his newfound faith with other villagers, they, too, became believers! 

The changes among his people infuriated the village chief. Summoning all the villagers, the chief angrily addressed the first convert among the tribe: “Renounce your faith, or be killed!” Moved by the Holy Spirit, the man replied:

“I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back.”

The incensed chief next ordered his archers to kill the man’s young sons. Then he harshly demanded, “Will you deny your faith? You have lost both your children. You will lose your wife, too.” The man solemnly spoke:

“Though no one joins me, still I will follow.
No turning back.”

Furious, the chief then ordered the man’s wife be killed. Within minutes, she joined her two sons in Heaven. The chief yelled, “I will give you one more opportunity to deny your faith and live! There is no one for you in the world!” Now facing death himself, the man again gave his steadfast reply:

“The cross before me, the world behind me.
No turning back.”

The chief motioned to his archers and the man was killed. As the chief looked at the dead bodies of the four Christians, a spiritual awe gripped his heart. What supernatural power had these four believers possessed? In a spontaneous confession of faith, the chief astonished everyone by suddenly shouting out, “I, too, belong to Jesus Christ!” The villagers were moved. Soon the entire village accepted Christ. This one man and his family are an inspiring depiction of decisiveness: “the ability to finalize difficult decisions based on the will and ways of God.”

This heart-touching story was passed by word of mouth, and eventually the words were written down and placed to the melody “Assam,” which was the name of the region where the martyrdom occurred. The song is popular in many Indian churches and around the world today. Now when you sing “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” may it remind you that being decisive for Christ and following Him is worth our all!

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