eople who like to explore caves are called “cavers.” Some go into caves to see the interesting formations, to study cave creatures
such as bats, or just for the exercise and adventure. Hundreds of years ago a group of Christians called Waldensees entered caves for none of these reasons. Waldenses often used caves to worship God, and sometimes even to hide from their enemies who tried to persecute them for their religious beliefs. Sometimes when the Waldenses fled into the large caves for refuge, their enemies built fires at the entrance to the cave. The smoke from the fires billowed into the caves, suffocating hundreds of brave Waldensians.
Several years ago, I had the privilege of exploring one of the caves in northern Italy that had been used for hidden worship by Waldensian families. A sign at LaTana said that for centuries the Waldensians were persecuted for their faith. If there had not been more signs leading our group to the cave, it would have been almost impossible to find. The entrance is wide but very narrow, with jagged edges. It was hard to crawl into!
Inside, we found a large cavern. As we stood there together, we realized that the cave is a witness and reminder that many people, including children and very old people, chose to die rather than give up their faith in Jesus and in His Word. Pastor Lynn Bryson, a member of our group, began singing “Faith of Our Fathers.” As we joined him in the candlelight, our voices echoed off the cold, damp walls of the cave. I prayed in my heart that I would always be as true to God as were the courageous Waldenses.
In 1885 and 1886, Ellen White preached several times in the mountain village of Torre Pellice, where today a Waldensian museum is located. With her traveling companions she too hiked to a nearby cave where some of the Waldenses had perished. After exploring the cave, Ellen White and her friends climbed onto the rocks just above it, and prayed together that God would give each one a willingness to be faithful to the truths of the Bible.
Writing about this experience, Ellen White said that if those beautiful Italian Alps could talk, they would not just tell of the sufferings of God’s people because of their faith. They would also tell of the visits of angels to these Christian fugitives! Waldenses planted the seeds of the Reformation—and God’s faithful people will continue to carry His good news until Jesus comes.
Sources: The Great Controversy,
page 78, and Historical Sketches,
pages 239-245. For more cool stuff just for kids, visit whiteestate.org/VEZ.