Tuesday, May 1, 2007
The Noble Army of Martyrs Praise You
From my experience it has only been in the last 20 or so years that there has been a heightened awareness of persecution of Christians in the world. When I entered the ministry in the late 80's I remember subscribing to a magazine called Voice of the Martyrs, which opened my eyes to a reality of which I was largely unaware. I was amazed when I found out that more men and women have died for the faith in the last 100 years than in the first 300 of the church's history. However, the persecution of Christians, while sometimes a topic on Capital Hill, is certainly not a front and center concern for many in the country - or even in our churches.
What a surprise it was then to see a multiple-page color add for the Voice of the Martyrs right in the middle of the secular magazine U.S. News and World Report (May 7 issue)! The opening page pictures a young Asian woman with a tear streaming down her cheek. To the right of her picture appear the words "Christian Persecution Does Not Exist For Me," with the words "Does Not" crossed out in red, and the letter "s" added to "exist." Inside the profiles of two persecuted Christians are highlighted, although without mention of their country (for obvious reasons of safety.)
The subscription to Voice of the Martyrs is free, and according to the add they will also send a copy of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand's book Tortured for Christ. I have read the book and highly recommend it. The true heroes of the faith in our modern era exist in hidden prison camps out of sight of the media, where Christian love is expressed in ways that would amaze many of us. We argue in our churches over some of the most mundane and trivial issues, while men and women fight just to survive and enjoy the simple right to worship their Lord. And they love their enemies in the process. How sobering.
It also makes me realize that when Jesus said that those who would follow him must "deny themselves" and "take up their cross," he wasn't referring to enduring the occasional cross word from an irritated member. Cross-bearing is suffering for Christ and His Word, something the apostles did and rejoiced about.
If you would like to learn more about VOM, see the ling here.