Do you know the story behind the well-known song, “I have decided to follow Jesus?” The lyrics come from the last words of Nokseng, a man from the Garo tribe in Assam. It is today, the song of
the Garo people and an Anthem for Persecution.
About 150 years ago, there was a great revival in Wales. As a result of this, many missionaries came to north-east India to spread the Gospel. The region
known as Assam was comprised of hundreds of tribes who were primitive and aggressive head-hunters
Into these hostile and aggressive communities, came a group of missionaries from the American Baptist
Missions spreading the message of love, peace and hope in Jesus Christ. Naturally, they were not welcomed. One missionary succeeded in converting a man, his wife, and two children. This man’s faith proved contagious and many villagers began to accept
Angry, the village chief summoned all the villagers. He then called the family who had first converted to renounce their faith in public or face execution. Moved by the Holy Spirit, the
man sang theses words in reply: “I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back.”
Enraged at the
refusal of the man, the chief ordered his archers to arrow down the two children. As both boys lay twitching on the floor, the chief asked, “Will you deny your faith? You have lost both your children. You will lose your wife too.”
But the man sang these words in reply: Tho' none go with me, I still will follow, No turning back, no turning back.” His wife was killed, and he was executed while singing, “The world behind me,
the cross before me. No turning back, no turning back.
The death of this family. triggered a mass revival in the village – beginning with the chief! The chief was extremely disturbed by the
faith of this man. He could not understand why Nokseng, his wife, and two children gave up their life for a man who lived some 2,000 years ago in some other continent.
The Holy Spirit touched the chief
and he spontaneously confessed, “I too belong to Jesus Christ!” When the gathered villagers heard their chief confessing his faith in Jesus Christ, the whole village accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior.
The formation of these words into a hymn is attributed to the Indian missionary Sadhu Sundar Singh. The melody is also Indian and with the title “Assam” after the region where the text originated. An American hymn editor, William
Jensen Reynolds, composed an arrangement that was included in the 1959 Assembly Songbook. (from the renewal journal)
If you love this song before knowing its
story, you will love it even more because you know what it really means.
Reflection: Jesus help me each day to decide to follow you no matter what. May I have the courage to lay down my life
for you, Jesus. “The world behind me the cross before me, no turning back, no turning back. Amen Click on the link below and watch this beautiful little girl skating and the little children singing "I have decided to follow Jesus."