Listen to the history of the hymn, "I Have Decided To Follow Jesus", followed by the congregation of Klondike Baptist Church singing the song together in worship. This recording is from the worship service 6/30/13, and the history is read by Luke Hassell.
The next song we are going to sing is the hymn, “I have decided to follow Jesus”. When most people hear this song they think of making an emotional decision, or simply making a mental change to follow Christ.
However, when you know the story of how this worship song was written, you will know the true power of the Gospel. In the 1880’s, there was a missionary from the United Kingdom serving in India who endured severe persecution. After years of sacrifice, he finally saw his first salvations in a very brutal village.
A husband and wife, with their two children, professed faith in Jesus Christ and were baptized. The village leaders decided to make an example out of the husband. Arresting the family, they demanded that the father renounce Christ, or see his wife and children murdered.
When he refused, his two children were executed by archers. Given another chance to recant, the man again refused, and his wife was stuck down in the same way. Still refusing to recant, the man followed his family into glory.
Witnesses later told the story to the missionary. The reports said that when asked to recant or see his children murdered, the man said: “I have decided to follow Jesus, and there is no turning back.”
After seeing his children killed, he reportedly said, “The world can be behind me, but the cross is still before me.” And after seeing his wife pierced by the arrows, he said, “Though no one is here to go with me, still I will follow Jesus.”
When the missionary returned to the village, a revival had broken out, and those that had murdered the first converts had come to faith in Jesus themselves. An Evangelist heard this story, and took the martyr’s last words, and put them to music.
In this song, the word “decided” has a once-for-all commitment attached to it; a commitment that the author knew would lead to imminent death. This song does not capture the ease of making a decision, but rather is about the staggering cost of picking up your cross and following after Christ.
May we not take our precious faith in Jesus lightly; instead, take up our cross and seek to give our all to follow Him!