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Martyrs-

 

In this century, more have died and are currently being persecuted for Christ than in all other centuries since Christ's death and resurrection.  They are calling out from beneath the altar - how much longer till you (God) judge the earth?  Are we ready?

 

Revelations 6:9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood ?"

 

Revelations 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

 

As  Christians, we look forward to life in Heaven.  We all do.  We know that the martyrs, some named on this page and millions more, will also be in the great new kingdom.  Can you imagine your conversation with a martyr from our day and time?  They may ask something like, "Now, tell me again, why was it, you as a Christian from the most powerful nation on earth at that time, with a representative form of government, why was it you didn't help other Christians around the globe?  Why didn't you stand firm against our persecutors and vote for the right people in your country who could have saved us from our suffering?   Your trade policies hurt us while you became wealthy."     

 

Voice of the Martyrs excerpt – April 1999

According to Pakistani law, Christians are free to worship God, as long as they do not proselytize Muslims or criticize the Islamic religion. Many would believe that Christians who keep to themselves in Pakistan face no danger and that Christians and Muslims can coexist in peace.

Regardless of Pakistani law, a hatred toward Christians exists in the hearts of some radical Muslims and when given opportunity, that hatred can generate the worst of actions.   Nageena is a Pakistani Christian girl only seven years old. One morning as she walked home from a friend's house, four Muslim men from her village began to chase her. She was quickly captured and forced into a shed, where each of the men sexually assaulted her.

Nageena's screams were eventually heard by neighbors who, along with her father, came to see what was happening. When they opened the door, they saw the little seven-year-old Christian girl on the floor, helpless. Upon their discovery, the four men ran from the shed.

Nageena was rushed to the hospital at Shekhupura where she was treated. The doctor stated that because of her severe internal injuries, Nageena will never be able to have children. Except for whispering of the tragic assault to her mother, Nageena has not spoken since.  The four Muslim men were arrested after Nageena's parents filed a criminal complaint. Numerous witnesses came forward to identify the four men they had seen running from the shed. Despite the substantial testimony against the accused, they were released within a few weeks, their charges dismissed for lack of evidence.

Nageena's father, Ghulam Masih, was outraged by the court's decision and continued to seek justice. Nineteen months later the family was awarded approximately $500 Cnd. compensation from the Human Rights Ministry. A few days later, Ghulam himself was arrested, charged with murdering an elderly woman. His accusers: The four men who raped his daughter. Ghulam's ankles and wrists were chained while he was repeatedly beaten with a leather strap. The beatings were personally supervised by Mushtaq Ahmed, the inspector who had released Nageena's attackers. Inspector Ahmed later reported in the UK's Sunday Times that the men accused of raping Nageena were good Muslims, so he had no reason to disbelieve them, whereas the prisoner was a Christian. "My first duty is to Islam. The courts will take a similar view, and Ghulam Masih will be hanged. You'll see."

Regardless of the citizenship of Nageena and her family, they are strangers to this world. Pakistan's newly established Human Rights Ministry can condemn the act and pay a small compensation, but this brings little comfort to a seven-year-old girl who has been raped.

The only comfort for Nageena will be the support and prayers of a loving family and the hope of glory. An eternal victory has far more weight than a victory in a courtroom. Pakistani Christians continue to report to VOM how their wives, sisters, and daughters are kidnapped and held inside Muslim compounds for forced "marriage."

Ironically, the only hope for rapists and kidnappers will be repentance and confession of Jesus as Lord, the very belief that incites the anger of radical Muslims to begin with. "To this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow in His steps...who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Peter 2:21,23).

"Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God" (1 Peter4:1,2).  Peter gives us the ideal example of what our attitude toward suffering should be. He brings us back to the cross, where Jesus obediently yielded His "rights" to God, that through His suffering we might be a part of His kingdom. It was for sin that Jesus hung on a tree. It was our sin, along with the sin of our persecutors, that put Him there. 

 

Excerpt from Voice of the Martyrs issue (May 99) by Tom White (Director)

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I just received the testimony of Christian leader Jeremiah Logora. VOM relief worker Ray Thorne interviewed him and took these photographs in Sudan. Here are Jeremiah’s words:" When I was in Cito pastoring a church, the Arabs (Muslims from the North) arrested six of our members claiming that they were spies. I went to them to explain that these boys were not spies but were Christians. The Muslim soldiers tied me up and lifted me with a rope four feet into the air. With my arms and legs together, they whipped me, then dripped hot melted plastic on my chest to burn me. While hanging in the air, I prayed, ‘Oh God, if it is your will for me to die today, let it be done’. I thought of Jesus’ death, that Jesus died to save the whold world. I thought my death could be part of the salvation of these six boys as I followed the footsteps of my Lord. Since I am already old and going to die, my example of suffering for them could encourage them to serve God.

"Then the Muslim soldiers cut the rope and I fell down. They dragged me back to the cell. After two days they allowed relatives to take me home. The six boys remained in prison and now probably have been forced to become soldiers or are in a camp forced to learn the Koran. Their names are Emmanuel (age 5), Samuel (age 7), Awok (age 4), Marcello (age 8), Albino (age 13), and Isdorio (age 30)."

 

Click here for an example of persecution in China.

 

 

Excerpt from Voice of the Martyrs issue (July 99) by Tom Nettleton             

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Standing up for Jesus

She was 17.

The student-just a boy-pointed a gun at her and the others in the room.

"Do you believe in God?" he sneered, the gun’s dark eye scanning the room warily.
The 17-year-old didn’t falter. "Yes, I believe in God," she said simply. They were her final words on earth.

The demented gunman asked "Why?" and then shot her before she could answer. She died where she fell.

Muslim fanatics in Pakistan. Right? Communist Chinese soldiers? North Korea?

Wrong.

America…Our homeland.

This month (July) we celebrate our nation’s birthday in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Cassie Bernall is both free and brave, but the USA is no longer her home. Her home is heaven.

She was the 17-year-old who stood up and admitted with others that she indeed loved God, despite the graceless gunmen in the black trench coats in front of her.

The site was Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. The date was April 20. Bullets were flying, home-made bombs were exploding, and a 17-year-old girl was added onto the ages-long list of Christian martyrs.

Cassie Bernall has a sister in Pakistan. They are not sisters by blood, but sisters by Spirit. Both have experienced a true freedom. Not political freedom. Not legal freedom. Not financial freedom. But the true freedom that comes from knowing that your eternal soul is held in the hand of almighty God and that nothing on earth can harm you.

Saleema was arrested after sharing her faith with a schoolmate, Raheela, who became a believer and was eventually murdered by her own family for refusing to recant her faith. Saleema went to jail for sharing her faith, and was abused, molested, and humiliated, all the while being told that if she would deny her faith, she could walk out of prison and be free.

But she was already free. Even in prison she had eternal freedom, purchased for her by Christ’s own blood.

You can lock me up, her life said, but you can’t take away my freedom. You can molest and abuse and do unspeakable things to me, but I am still free.

Today (July 1999), after almost two years of wrangling with the Pakistani legal system, Saleema is legally free. Raheela’s family finally agreed to drop all charges against Saleema, and a Pakistani judge has signed off on the agreement. We thank you for faithfully praying for her. She is free, but still in danger. Often in Pakistan, Christians who are released by the courts are killed by Muslim extremists bent on revenge, and Saleema will never be free of that risk as long as she remains in her homeland. Continue to lift up her safety.

Pastor Randy Pope visited Mongolia and relayed this story about a man in China.  The man had been a pastor in his 30's, married and with a young son.  He was arrested by the government for preaching.   He was kept in handcuffs and almost daily underwent torture and hard labor.  The guards would drag him by the metal stem between the wrists.  On a weekly basis, the guards would take him out of the prison and offered him release if he would promise to never preach again. 

The man spent ~25 years in this prison.  The handcuffs were buried beneath the skin with the exception of the metal stem from years of tearing and healing.  His wife died while he was in prison.  He was finally released when there was too much political pressure on the government.  He was released as a 60+ year old man. 

How many of us 'westernized Christians' would go that far just to preach God's Word?   How can we face such an individual in heaven, knowing how we cheaply sold out our faith, if God does accept us.  Now is the time for us to apply ourselves.   Before we know it, opportunities will be lost to further God's cause on earth.  

 

Exerpts from Foxe's Book of Martyrs.        (for more- the complete text is at:    http://ccel.wheaton.edu/foxe/martyrs/ )

These people died, standing firm, facing death in the face.  They knew that they would be killed for merely acknowledging God's sovereignty.  It didn't stop them.  We have sold out much too cheaply.

 

The Third Persecution, Under Trajan, A.D. 108

At the martyrdom of Faustines and Jovita, brothers and citizens of Brescia, their torments were so many, and their patience so great, that Calocerius, a pagan, beholding them, was struck with admiration, and exclaimed in a kind of ecstasy, "Great is the God of the Christians!" for which he was apprehended, and suffered a similar fate.

The Fourth Persecution, Under Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, A.D. 162

The cruelties used in this persecution were such that many of the spectators shuddered with horror at the sight, and were astonished at the intrepidity of the sufferers. Some of the martyrs were obliged to pass, with their already wounded feet, over thorns, nails, sharp shells, etc. upon their points, others were scourged until their sinews and veins lay bare, and after suffering the most excruciating tortures that could be devised, they were destroyed by the most terrible deaths.

Germanicus, a young man, but a true Christian, being delivered to the wild beasts on account of his faith, behaved with such astonishing courage that several pagans became converts to a faith which inspired such fortitude.

Polycarp, the venerable bishop of Smyrna, hearing that persons were seeking for him, escaped, but was discovered by a child. After feasting the guards who apprehended him, he desired an hour in prayer, which being allowed, he prayed with such fervency, that his guards repented that they had been instrumental in taking him. He was, however, carried before the proconsul, condemned, and burnt in the market place.

The proconsul then urged him, saying, "Swear, and I will release thee;--reproach Christ."

Polycarp answered, "Eighty and six years have I served him, and he never once wronged me; how then shall I blaspheme my King, Who hath saved me?" At the stake to which he was only tied, but not nailed as usual, as he assured them he should stand immovable, the flames, on their kindling the fagots, encircled his body, like an arch, without touching him; and the executioner, on seeing this, was ordered to pierce him with a sword, when so great a quantity of blood flowed out as extinguished the fire. But his body, at the instigation of the enemies of the Gospel, especially Jews, was ordered to be consumed in the pile, and the request of his friends, who wished to give it Christian burial, rejected. They nevertheless collected his bones and as much of his remains as possible, and caused them to be decently interred.

 

 

Interesting, the Rock Group "Pink Floyd", in their classic recording "The Dark Side of the Moon" showed some wisdom.  In their song labeled "Time", the text is telling:

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day                    You fritter and waste the hours in an off hand way                Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town        Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain        You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today          And then one day you find ten years have got behind you               No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking   And racing around to come up behind you again                           The sun is the same in the relative way, but you're older               Shorter of breath and one day closer to death                                

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time               Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines  Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way                       The time is gone the song is over, thought I'd something more to say...

Christians!  Let us learn from our brothers and sisters who have chosen God above absolutely everything in their lives, even life itself.  As the song above says, don't waste any more time.  We are now being told to run, don't miss the starting gun.  God is waiting.

Matthew 10:7 As you go , preach this message: `The kingdom of heaven is near'   

Matthew 20:4 He told them, `You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.'                                                                                     

Matthew 22: 9 Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.'  

Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

So, why is a section on martyrs included?  They risked everything.  Would  we?   Not by our track record.  We run the risk of trusting God and possibly losing an election.  If we really trust God to stand with us when we stand with Him, we will choose lifestyles (including political candidates) that please Him.  We have sold out too cheaplyWhat will we say when we die and face Him?

 

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