There are more Christian martyrs today than there were in 100 AD-in the days of the Roman Empire. According to a study done at Regent University, there were close to 164,000 Christians martyred around the world in 1999. Their stories must be told.
I might be the last Christian in the world to actually read this book, but I finally have read it. For the last ten years I have been putting it off, because I knew that it would be hardcore.
The book tells the story of dozens of Christian martyrs, most of whom died for their faith - many quite painfully or horrifically. It covers children still in their teens, as well as entire families who lost their lives for their beliefs. It is quite scary stuff.
I have always found stories of martyrdom and persecution quite scary, because I am always afraid that I would never be able to measure up to these people. Some of them stared their torturers in the eyes and said “I will never renounce my faith, do your worst.”
I have the privilege of living in a country where I will probably never face torture or prison for my beliefs. I never have to live in fear. And sometimes I wonder if that is a good thing.
There is a reason why the word “Martyr” actually means “Witness.” Our faith has always been at it’s strongest when we are persecuted; and our witness at it’s most powerful when we are seen to stand up under suffering.
Reading this book reminded me about the other face of my faith. The side I don’t often think about. The side where people lose everything in a heartbeat, and do so gladly, because of what they gain.
Is it wrong that I thank God daily that he has called me to minister to people who are receptive to the Gospel, instead of putting myself in harms way?
Quite a challenging book, and not for the faint of heart, or faint of faith.