When I spoke recently at Watermark Church in Dallas, after one of the services a man from a Muslim country came up and introduced himself and his teenage son. He told me, “Six months ago I was a Muslim. Now I am a follower of Jesus. I was baptized just a few weeks ago at this church. My son is going to be baptized soon.” His son smiled.
The man said, “My desire is to go back to my country and bring the gospel of Christ. I am studying the Bible every day. Please recommend one of your books that will help me go deep into God’s Word.” I gave him a copy of my book Heaven, partly because it is possible that if he returns to his country and brings the gospel to people, he will be arrested and even killed. I wrote him a note and gave his son another book and encouraged him to follow Jesus always.
I was just looking again at biblical passages on persecution and martyrdom that I compiled years ago. You might want to consider taking a few of these passages each day and meditating on them—they will change your perspective on life in this world as a Jesus-follower.
Each day, men, women, and children are killed for following Christ. Most often they’re largely ignored by the world but watched by the eyes of Heaven— “the world is not worthy of them” (Hebrews 11:38).
Occasionally we do have the privilege of knowing the names and seeing the faces of our precious brothers and sisters in Christ who pay the ultimate price for their faith, such as the 21 Christian men who were recently martyred by ISIS.
Perhaps you’ve prayed for the families of these young men and wondered how they’re coping in the wake of their loved ones’ deaths.
One of the ministries EPM supports is SAT-7, which broadcasts five 24-hour channels of Christian programming in the Middle East. They recently shared this video from one of their programs, in which Bashir, the brother of two of the murdered Coptic Christians, called in.
You can listen to what Bashir shares and read more below from SAT-7:
Beshir called into the weekly live worship and prayer program, We Will Sing, on Tuesday night. Host Maher Fayez was visibly moved as Beshir told viewers he was proud of his brothers, Bishoy Estafanos Kamel (25) and Samuel Estafanos Kamel (23), because they are “a badge of honor to Christianity.”
Beshir thanked ISIS for not editing out the men’s declaration of belief in Christ because he said this had strengthened his own faith. He added that the families of the ex-patriate workers are “congratulating one another” and not in despair: “We are proud to have this number of people from our village” who did not waiver in their faith.
Beshir then told Maher Fayez that, since the Roman era, Christians have learned to handle everything that comes their way. He said, "This only makes us stronger in our faith because the Bible told us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us.”
Asked by Maher Fayez if he would get upset if he was called to forgive ISIS, Beshir related what his mother said she would do if she saw one of the men who killed her son. “My mother, an uneducated woman in her sixties, once said she would ask her son's killer to enter her house and ask God to open his eyes."
Beshir then prayed on air, “Dear God, please open their eyes to be saved and to quit their ignorance and the wrong teachings they were taught.”
In this blog I tell the story of the Staines family in India.
In this five-minute audio I read the dedication to Safely Home and talk about Philip Staines and his two young sons who were murdered for Christ in India in 1999. I shared it in the context of giving and investing our lives in missions and God’s kingdom:
If you wish to read a fictional story inspired by many true stories of faithful believers in China, some of them killed for their faith, you may be interested in my novel Safely Home.
“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer… Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death” (Revelation 2:10-11).
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-46).
“You can kill us, but you cannot hurt us.” –Justin Martyr (AD 100–165)