Items For Prayer and Praise
By Lois J. Stucky
Many current chapters could be added to the classic Foxes’ Book Of Martyrs. We are told that around the world in our generation, “Almost a thousand believers die as martyrs for Christ every day!” We in America wonder, can it really be? And, why?
Since Eternity past there has been the warfare of Satan against God, of evil against righteousness. In the days when Christ was on earth the conflict reached a climax. The very Son of God was crucified. In the years following, countless numbers of His followers were slain in a ferocious but futile effort to stamp out this movement of the Righteous One.
Again in our century, even in our generation, the battle rages very furiously—the anti-Christ forces against Christ and His followers. The enemy accelerates his warfare, for the day of Christ’s ultimate triumph nears! May I share in brief with you a few of the items that have come to my attention in the past week or two?
In South Africa, where there is much political unrest, two friends, Jabu and Michael, transferred for their high school education from a rural area to a city. They were faithful Christians and members of the organization, “Christians for Truth,” from whom this account comes. At the new school they obtained permission to begin a Students’ Christian Movement. From the start there was opposition from some of the other students. One day at the school’s morning devotions, Jabu “spoke with strong conviction” urging fellow students to “forsake their immoral ways, drunkenness and smoking.” There was obvious opposition, and that afternoon Jabu was stabbed to death. Michael has been threatened with a gun, but is not intimidated. “If you hear that I have died, just know it was for the sake of the Gospel and for Christ’s sake,” he told friends.
In Northern Nigeria, for some months there have been burnings of churches and homes of Christians and killings of Christians at the hands of Muslim mobs. The strongly Islamic government is slow to address the complaints of the Christians. Yet an official of the church in Nigeria who visited this area recently, told listeners, “A greater harvest of souls is being gathered into Christ’s Kingdom now than ever before!” Without recourse, yet without retaliation, Christians are a wonder to those who hate them. What is the explanation of the spirit of the Christians, which is so different from their own?
A story told in the newsletter of Jonathan Chao is about two Chinese girls who went to preach the Gospel in Inner Mongolia. These two girls were not well received at first and so they worked alongside the farmers, preaching as they worked, and preaching when the farmers returned home until late at night. After a few months, some families became Christian, and a church was established.
This brought the police on the scene, and the girls fled. When discovered in a cave where they had hidden, they ran again, pursued by police with guns. At last forced to stop as bullets grazed their heads, they were arrested and one was beaten so severely as to suffer severe concussion. Eventually they were fined and released, because the police could get no information from them. A severe rainstorm that night brought the death of the father of one of the police, as well as destruction of many houses, although none of the believers’ farms were flooded, nor their houses destroyed. This brought wonderment to the police and to the unbelievers of the area.
The newsletter of The Voice of the Martyrs, Inc., tells of an evangelist in the Philippines who goes at great risk into the territory of the communist terrorists to preach the Gospel. Some soldiers have been saved and have left the terrorist groups. Angered about the preaching of the Gospel, the terrorists abducted the eight-year-old nephew of the evangelist, who sometimes accompanied the evangelist to help with the meetings for the children. After several hours of torture, the nephew was killed, a martyr for Jesus at the young age of eight. The uncle, knowing he is marked for death, continues his dangerous mission.
On and on go the reports, about martyrdom in Somalia, Sudan, Mozambique, Vietnam, Laos, Peru, Pakistan, Egypt, Croatia, Burma, Sri Lanka, etc. We must face the fact that right here in our beloved country, there are indications of a rising anti-Christ spirit that has serious implications.
This is solemnizing. But we are not to be fearful, nor to morbidly dwell upon it. Nor are we to refuse to think about it altogether. Let us reach out with loving thoughts and prayers to those now suffering and provide help as we can. God’s Word tells us to remember those in prison with them, and those who suffer as though we, too, were suffering (Heb. 13:3).
This is the time to fill our vision and our hearts with our “magnificent” Jesus. Let’s be sure our hearts are prepared by receiving Him as Saviour and Lord. Let us become established in the truth that Christ dwells within us, nearer than hands and feet. Let’s learn to rest in Him and not be frenzied by conditions around us.
Let us focus on Christ so He will be more dear to us than our own lives. This requires more than sweet sentiment. It is a wholehearted devotion, a courageous, set purpose of heart. And we need a firm trust in His hold upon us.
As we fit and keep our gaze on our “magnificent” Jesus, we cannot help but see the prints of the nails in His hands. Who has ever suffered like He has? But we see Him crowned—not now with piercing thorns, but with eternal glory!
Some Herald literature goes to readers in areas where the suffering is very real and near. Will you help us strengthen them? They may have to stand the ultimate test. Your gifts and prayers are an expression of your love to Christ and the members of His Body, so precious to Him. Thank you in Jesus’ Name.