An exaggeration? My articles have reached over 95% of the countries on earth. This includes places where Christians die for their faith in staggering numbers.
For most of us the idea of martyrdom is light years away from our reality. Or is it?
Open Doors estimates that 322 Christians are killed as martyrs every month. That’s 10 a day and nearly 4,000 per year.
Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran… and the list goes on. People in these countries have read my writing. This alone puts their life in danger.
Who me? Part I
When you meet a missionary that lives in Iraq, you expect some kind of superhero, right? Wrong. Yes, they have an incredible conviction. They are strong and prepared — but they have character flaws just like you and me. Nobody is loved by everyone. And some will kill you just for who you are.
I’ve heard of one church leader that prays for his church to remain poor and persecuted. This is in a country where people die all the time for being Christian. What do I pray for in comparison?
Still, the stories that really stand out might not even be the heroic ones. Yes, they are incredible – those that show their courage time and time again until the end. But the more amazing people might be what I call the “spontaneous martyrs”.
These people didn’t live their faith very intensely, or maybe not even at all. They might have come from a Christian family, but they didn’t even go to church. Suddenly, they’re ripped from their homes by an extremist. When this happens, you’re given three choices:
Convert to Islam
Pay a tax
Now you can pretty much count out number 2. First of all, your kidnappers probably already confiscated all you have. Also, the taxes are astronomical. So you’re left to choose between 1 and 2. You might be thinking, “We’ll, I would just say I convert to Islam but not for real.” And many do exactly that. Do I blame them? If someone held a foot long knife to my throat, what would I do?
What about the lukewarm Christians/Catholics – those who never really practiced their faith – who at that critical moment refuse to give in? Instead, they give their lives for Christ right then and there. What in the world makes this happen? The only explanation I find for this is a massive outpouring of the Holy Spirit over them at the moment.
This calls my attention. A conversion at that moment. A spontaneous conviction that directly results in death. What is this experience like? I can’t even imagine it. Why is this happening now? What do these events say to me as a disciple?
Who me? Part II
Some claim the Western world is moving towards the persecution of Christians. I agree. Will it get to where people are executed for being a believer in Topeka, Montreal, Paris, and London? I doubt it, but persecution definitely exists and is growing.
Our convictions are being tested to their limit more and more each day. On the social, political, and personal level all believers are being tested. How many compromises am I making? On the job? In the public square? At home?
In my heart???
Honor the Blood of the Martyrs
I fiercely reject the politicization of the Christian faith. That is the spirit of the pharisee. It’s the spirit that killed Jesus. Yes, we must stand up for our rights. Still, if I see a person marching against abortion or against gay marriage (I oppose both), but at home they hurt and manipulate — then they don’t understand the true Gospel message.
“Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’
How far from life and death is my spiritual life? I’m not saying I should look for ways to die, but do I live my faith as if my life depends on it?
How many times do I put my interests before God’s will in my life? How many times do I take the easy way out since “everybody does it”? How often am I shortchanging time spent in the presence of God? How many times do I make excuses for my behavior instead of trusting that God can transform me? How many times do I condemn or ignore others thinking there’s no hope for them?
Stop! Stop now. Honor the blood spilled by the martyrs. Not just in centuries past, but today. May the Spirit remind and inspire us in this. Their blood cries out for justice… and mercy.
And if you are one of those living in danger… may your life give glory to God. I honor and pray for you every day.