KidsView  | The Adventist Review for kids and those who always will be kids at heart | October 2017

A Man Who Changed the World

Martin Luther walked through the town of Eisenach, Germany. It was so different from Mansfield where he grew up. His father worked as a metalworker and miner. At home you could smell the silver and copper as they melted in the giant iron tanks. This new town was different. He counted one castle, a large fountain, three churches, seven monasteries, and nine chapels. 

Martin was sent here to attend school. Now almost 15, it was hard to be away from his family. 

The teacher at his new school was friendly and taught Martin many things. When he first arrived, he had a small room to stay in, but his food came from begging. Each day he would go out with his friends and sing in the streets hoping people would drop food into their basket. Sometimes Martin didn’t get enough to eat, and that made life hard.

One day, a woman listened to Martin sing. He had a lovely voice and she invited him inside. There he found a warm fire and good food. Mrs. Cotta took an interest in Martin. She often invited him to come to her house to sing for her. One day she asked him to live with her family. That changed Martin’s life! Now he had warm clothes and good food to eat. 

Four years later, Martin finished school in Eisenach. His father had saved enough money to send Martin to a good university in Erhart. He wanted Martin to become a lawyer. Everyone thought Martin was smart and would do very well one day. But three things happened that changed Martin forever.

The first happened when Martin and his college friends begin to play fight with their swords. Suddenly Martin stumbled and fell. His sword made a large gash in his foot. They carried him to town where a doctor bandaged his wound. It became very swollen and Martin thought he would die. He became very afraid and called out “O Mary, help!” He believed the mother of Jesus would help his foot get better. And the next day it did.

The second was when Martin wandered into the library. Over in a corner was a large Bible chained to a desk. Martin had never read the Bible before, even though he went to church. In fact, no one really did.

As he thumbed through its pages, he found story after story. He was so interested, he didn’t want to stop reading. He wished he could have a Bible all his own, so he could take it with him and read everything!

After about a year at school, a terrible plague hit the town. Many people got sick and died, including one of his closest friends. This made Martin sad. So sad, that he decided to visit his family. Later, he began the 50-mile walk back to school. He thought as he walked alone. He thought of the people who died from the plague. He remembered when he almost died. He realized that he was afraid of death. And, Martin didn’t want to be a lawyer like his father wanted. He remembered what it was like reading the Bible and wished for more.

Suddenly a terrible thunderstorm darkened the sky. There was thunder and lightening all around him. Then, a lightening bolt struck right next to him throwing him to the ground! Martin cried out again, this time to St. Anne. “Help me! If you save me, I will become a monk! The storm went away as quickly as it came. Within days, he kept his promise and joined the monastery. His friends were amazed; his father was angry, but Martin knew serving God was the right thing to do.

Being a monk was hard. He had to pray seven times a day. He begged in the streets to help the poor and sick. He spent days cleaning and sweeping and said more prayers. 

A large Bible in the dining hall was read aloud during meals. Martin volunteered so many hours to read that Bible, that the other monks finally gave him a Bible of his own. It was his most-treasured possession. 

He read and read. Paul’s letters were his favorite. Paul wrote that people were saved by faith, by believing in Jesus. That was something very different then what was taught by Martin’s church.

Martin’s church began accepting money telling people they could be forgiven for their sins. This bothered Martin very much. People would buy a piece of paper and think their sins were forgiven. The more Martin studied his Bible, the more he knew this was wrong. One day he decided to say something.

On October 31, 1517, Martin wrote 95 reasons on a piece of paper against what his church was doing. Then he nailed the paper on the church door for everyone to read.

It was a brave thing to do. People who disagreed with church leaders often were killed. Many people read the paper and shared Luther’s ideas. People came to hear him preach. He told them Jesus would forgive their sins for free! Later, Martin Luther translated the Bible from Latin to German so all could read it for themselves.

This was the beginning of a large religious movement. More and more people believed in salvation through faith in Jesus. More and more read the Bible and learned of Jesus for themselves. Because of Luther, many broke away from the Catholic Church and formed new churches—Protestant churches—because they “protested” what the Catholic Church taught. 

Luther did not know that God would use him in such an important way. Because of Martin Luther’s brave act 500 years ago, there is freedom to believe in Jesus. Something to celebrate!