Today's Christian MartyrsQUESTION: Who are today's Christian martyrs?ANSWER:
Who are today's Christian Martyrs? This question might be more properly phrased, "Are there any
Christian martyrs today?" A martyr is one who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion; a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle; or a great or constant sufferer. Are
there any today who have so dedicated their lives to Christ and His cause that they have paid the ultimate price or those who suffer constantly for His sake? Jesus once said to His disciples in Luke 14:26, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters - yes, even his own life - he cannot be my disciple."
This is the mark of all those who may be called martyrs today. These individuals have learned, even as Christ learned obedience in the things that he suffered, to hate their own lives and willingly travel a road of suffering. They seek the things of God, the furtherance of His Kingdom and the vindication of his name with a zeal and passion nearly foreign to the modern Christian.
The majority of today's Christian martyrs are nameless to the outside world. Their selfless dedication to the great commission has brought them no earthly fame or notoriety.
It is difficult for those of us living in areas that have avowed freedom of religion to understand the concept of religious persecution and martyrdom. There are two reasons for this. First, since there is a freedom to worship whatever god or set of religious codes one wishes, most individuals go to and fro to their places of worship without any hint of the value of the privilege; they receive no renunciation from those who disagree with their ideals or challenge their lifestyles.
Secondly, we have not learned to "hate" our own lives. We are so entangled with the pursuit of the "dream" that we dare not live in anything less than whatever comfort we can or cannot afford. If necessary, we will remain silent rather than be ridiculed or intimidated because of what and who we believe.
David and Linda are a striking exception to the average Christian today. Eighteen years ago these present-day martyrs left their home and church in Brooklyn, NY to minister the gospel of Y'shua to the Jews in Israel. They have undergone severe persecution paralleling the ordeals of the early Christian church. David has had his back opened up many times from beatings; they have suffered threats and intimidation. Yet the gospel continues to go forward in Israel; their converts include Jews and Arabs and Gentiles. They must use extreme methods to preach the gospel to the Palestinians and Muslims; those who convert risk being ostracized and/or tortured. Many have lost their lives simply because they would not renounce their new found Savior. David must secretly meet believers in out-of-the-way places to minister to them and encourage them in the faith. They cannot worship openly and freely.
One of David's converts, an ex-muslim, suffered much hardship. This new believer had lost everything. He was separated from his wife and children; he had lost his job and had been ousted from his neighborhood. He was living in an unsanitary "room" which was nothing more than a deep rectangular hole in the ground. There was very little light and fresh air. He had to rely upon others to bring him food. These others also put their lives at risk to minister to his needs. This type of discomfort is foreign to us who live in luxury. There are many highly civilized parts of the world where the authorities cause those who believe in Jesus Christ to suffer. There is no freedom of religion, only the guise of such. These modern day believers in Jesus Christ, their sufferings unheralded, are today's Christian martyrs. They have forsaken all to follow Christ. These nameless individuals have counted the cost and found that Christ is worthy. They have decided that they would "be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time" (Hebrews 11:24-25).