121 I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

Story Behind the Hymn

Aggressive head-hunters ruled hundreds of primitive tribes in the hill country of India. In 1904 the Great Welsh Revival broke out, resulting in missionaries spreading the message of God’s love, peace, and hope to these people. Dr. P. P. Job, the Billy Graham of India and evangelist in over 129 countries of the world, closely associated with Richard Wurmbrand’s Voice of the Martyrs ministry for 33 years, tells “the true story behind this hymn.” It begins with one man, Nokseng, and his family, converted to Christianity by a missionary to the Garo tribe. Out of their love for Jesus, they naturally shared the Gospel message with others in the village who also accepted Christ. The chief, angered by this, summoned all the people, demanding the family renounce their faith or face execution. Moved by the Holy Spirit, the man said, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” The chief was furious at the man’s refusal and ordered his archers to arrow down the man’s two children. While the angels carried his children away into the arms of Jesus, the chief demanded of the man, “Will you now deny your faith? You have lost your children and are about to lose your wife if you do not.” To which the man replied, “Though no one joins me, still I will follow.” The chief was furious and ordered his wife to be arrowed down. This time the chief demanded, “I will give you one more opportunity to deny your faith and live.” The man replied, “The cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back.” He, too, was released from life on earth by the chief’s archers.

Moved by Nokseng’s faith in God, the chief contemplated what kind of faith would cause a man, his wife, and two children to die for someone who lived in a far-away land on another continent 2,000 years ago. “There must have been some remarkable power behind the family’s faith, and I want to taste that faith.” He then received Christ, declaring, “I too belong to Jesus Christ.” When the crowd heard this from their chief, the entire Garo Tribe accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior.

This hymn is based on the last words of Nokseng, the Garo martyr, “I have decided to follow Jesus, No turning back, no turning back.” An Indian folk song, the song of the Garo people, sets the melody of this hymn. It is a statement of faith for new believers. (Adapted from “The True Story Behind the Song”.)