I was about twelve when I read Mrs. Kauffman’s semi-biographical novel, Hidden Rainbow for the first time. My heart was moved by the story of young Anna and her sweet husband John, as they became believers and as they grew from the works based religion into a life filled with grace by faith. I watched John and Anna endure painful persecution when they left the Catholic church. Once John and Anna trusted Christ for their salvation.
The Kauffman’s Anabaptist history comes through beautifully in the Hidden Rainbow. Her understanding of grace by faith alone, pours out onto each page as she outlines the struggles of Anna and John Olesh in their attempt to separate from the Catholic faith in former Yugoslavia.
It is not strange that one book can have a deep impact on the soul of a person, but that is what Hidden Rainbow became to me. I have read Hidden Rainbow multiple times since then, but have found that it is a story that has enveloped my life in so many ways.
From the book Hidden Rainbow, my heart learned to beat fast, yearning for the salvation of those in countries closed to the light of Christ. Even today, I beg the Lord to set free captive hearts in such countries where the preaching of the gospel is not allowed.
Seeing the vigilance of a mother under persecution for her faith, I also pray for the strength of believers living in countries where they are not free to read Scripture and worship God. And for the hearts of the precious children of persecuted believers, seeing the forceful pull of government and worshipers of false gods, who sometimes even separate children from Christian parents.
Hidden Rainbow also gave me a perspective of how straight and narrow the path of grace alone is. The path of grace is unmeldable with any other course. No one can purchase a soul with money. No freedom from sin is found in baptism. No prayer, no birthright, no act of another can secure our souls in Christ.
In our American culture, the melding of grace and works is exceedingly prominent among many people who hold dearly to a prayer they said as a child or a life full of religious habits-including Bible reading, prayer, and church. Faithfulness to God does not save our souls.
People are constantly attempting to attach grace to works. It is a futile attempt as grace and works cannot be forced together in any method. The early church of Galatia attempted to blend works and faith and received a pointed letter from Paul.
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—” Gal 1:6
The only true gospel is dependence on God alone for the redemption of one’s soul and the journey of its sanctification. The false gospel is nothing more than a dependence on one’s self. Trust in grace alone cannot be combined and remain grace alone.
As I journey with Anna and John in their tear filled journey of persecution by the Catholic church, I see their dependency on God strengthened. I see the divide deepened as Anna and John are refused work and John must flee to America to help support his family.
As I see in this book the devotion and commitment of marriage spans oceans. There were no cell-phones or messenger apps to aid John and Anna in their connection. They did not even have a photograph to send with each other. They were committed to each other in a doubtless, unquestioning, and supportive way that few modern marriages understand.
Left with the children in Yogoalavia, Anna stands before a judge for refusing to baptize her infants. Anna is persecuted by her village as they refuse to let her purchase food out of fear of being associated with her. Anna and John’s family beg them to repent and turn back to Catholicism, grieving that John and Anna no longer submit to the Catholic church and will be doomed to hell.
The gospel is not a uniting truth, but a dividing truth. As Anna struggles to keep her family together, the rift between her, and her extended family becomes deeper, until she is separated from her home by an ocean.
Hidden rainbow is certsinly a book that has stuck to my ribs throughout the years as I my life has encountered some of the challenges John and Anna faced. It gives the heart courage to face what has already been faced and persevered by others.