This morning in our staff meeting, we talked for a few minutes about one of our missionaries in Ethiopia. This week, he went from missionary to martyr. We are told that he was hosting an evangelistic conference where many people came to know Jesus. A woman who accepted Jesus went home to tell her husband about her new found faith. He was displeased to say the least. He beat her trying to force her to recant her faith, but to no avail. He banished her from his home and turned his anger on our missionary. After the evening rally, the missionary returned home, where some gathered to ask him to pray for them. He did, and as he was praying for his friends, a gunshot rang out in the crowd, presumably from the man whose wife turned to Christ.
I share this story today for a couple of reasons. First, would you be willing to pray for this family? Pray that they would find healing, wisdom and comfort. Jesus knows the pain they are going through. John the Baptist, his second cousin was a martyr as well. John’s death had some impact on Him, because upon hearing the news, He withdrew to a solitary place to pray (Matthew 14:1-13). He understands, and can help others in the healing process.
Along with that, pray for the ministry he led. My senior year of high school, at summer camp, our speaker talked a bit about martyrdom. Here is one thing he said that really stuck in my mind, “Christians are replaceable. When the blood of martyr is spilled, it plants seeds that can not be planted otherwise. Out of the blood of a martyr, God always rises up several more radical, passionate, sold out followers than the first martyr.” We find this to be true throughout scripture. If not for the martyr of Stephen, the gospel would not have been spread as it was (Acts 8:4). By the way, I am firmly convinced that Paul is an example of one who gave his life to the cause of Christ, because of what he witnessed in Stephen’s death. Pray that the seed that was planted would bring lots of people to Jesus in way that no one could ever predict.
I also want open up both your and my world views. Persecution is fact of life in so many places. This story is not uncommon in any way. All over the world, people are suffering, beaten, jailed, and killed for the cause of Christ. To me, this puts my life in perspective. So, I have a month where my budget is tighter than I prefer. Someone is following me on the highway too close. Someone does not answer their phone. We can find a million things to complain about every minute, all while people are being tortured for Christ. What do I have to complain about?
Not real fun stuff to talk about, today, but I wanted to share my thoughts.