Recently 29 Coptic Christians were captured by Isis and forced to kneel on the sand and choose. If they would proclaim themselves to be Muslim, they would be allowed to live. Instead, every one of them proclaimed Jesus is Lord, and one by one they were beheaded. The scene was shown on television across the globe—Isis made poor choice, because the world saw a faith worth dying for. I have a book, Martyred for Christ, and I receive a monthly magazine by that name. More Christians have been martyred for their faith in the last century than in all the centuries since the Resurrection of Christ. We think of the lion’s den, the Roman catacombs, Nero—even the Reformation, but no, now is the time of martyrdom.
The Church in America is so blasé. We see fake murders in movies and on TV, but that actor lives another day. It’s not real. We have become inured to murder and mayhem. We spend more time listening about, talking about, arguing about whether gays should have a wedding cake than the death and kidnapping of hundreds of Christians in Africa. We tweet: “bring back our girls” for a couple of days and forget. We don’t imagine it could happen to us here. For us, if someone ridicules us or rejects us, that’s persecution?
If you were forced to kneel and the person beside you had his head cut off, would you, too, confess Jesus? You might run into a burning building to rescue your child, but would you die for an unseen Savior? In North Korea after the war, Christians were rounded up. A father was forced at gunpoint to dig a trench. His wife and children were marched into that trench and buried alive before his eyes. His wife sang songs of faith and assured her children over and over that: “In just a few minutes we’ll see Jesus.” She knew one day her husband would be with them in that place that Jesus has prepared for us. One of the soldiers who saw this was haunted until the day he found the Savior and a faith to die for.
Eternity is a long time—an unending time. Talking of His impending death, Jesus told us. “I go to prepare a place for you, and I will come again to receive you to Myself.” We will have a personal escort to that place. When the first martyr, Stephen, was being stoned, he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” Those 29 young men on the Libyan sand saw the same thing, and like him they cried, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Do we have a faith to sustain us, a faith die for?