This morning my daily devotions took me to Acts 7. I always have a hard time reading this chapter. I would prefer to skip over it. It is about the martyring of Stephen. He is executed for his faith in Jesus Christ. He was a great guy. He cared for and helped widows in need. He was also full of the Holy Spirit and had a faith admired by many. Reading chapter 7 always is a downer for me. It’s hard to visualize his stoning for simply trusting Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
As I finished reading the chapter and was reminded about a story I heard and was disturbed about a couple of days ago. Sayad Mussa is an Afghan Red Cross worker who is to be executed because he has become a Christ-follower. He has been in jail for several months now. No lawyer will represent him for fear of reprisal of representing someone who converted from Islam. He has been raped in jail because of his faith. He only has one leg because he lost the other to a landmine explosion. You can read the New York Times article here.
I find it reprehensible, but not surprising, that American Christ-followers are dying in Afghanistan for the freedom of Muslims who would execute a Christ-follower for his faith.
Please, pray for the release of Sayad from prison. Pray for his wife and six children who fled to Pakistan under the threat of persecution. Also, please contact your Senator and House Representative and ask them to intervene on behalf of Sayad Mussa.
So touched by this post. While martyrdom for Christ has been never ending since He arrived on the world scene, Americans have been mostly unaware of its realities. But the truth is….it began with the early church and will continue to escalate up to the Second Coming….by God’s design and authority…not Satan’s. I have always believed I would be martyred since God has taught me deeply through visions revealed by the Word concerning ‘life’ of the saints. When a true child of God is killed….it is allowed by God…as He explains in Hebrews..’of whom the world is not worthy.’ The death of saints are VICTORY and never DEFEAT. God TAKES them. Satan does not KILL them. Steven was such a beautiful example of how it works….being stoned while feeling no physical pain….affirming forgiveness for his tormentors (just as Christ)…all the time with his eyes fixed on Christ at the right hand of the Father…and all the time having CHRIST’S EYES FIXED ON HIM. ‘The sting of death is sin’ but most folks expect death is painful…especially when martyred…but they forget that God is the giver and taker of Life…ALWAYS. Christ sweated ‘as it were drops of blood’ knowing the ‘sting of death’ His soul would endure as He gave it to spiritual death …saturated with OUR sins. Most assume the physical scourging and torture of crucifixion was the extent of His suffering. NOT SO! Like Steven…Christ ‘opened not his mouth’ until the Father separated from Him…carrying Life with Him…and thus allowing ‘death’ to permeate Christ’s soul. Only then…as Light removed itself from HIm…there in the darkness..he cried with a LOUD voice saying, ‘MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?” I saw the ‘holy city New Jerusalem’ in the eyes of my newborn fifteen years before he was conceived and born. When he was born in 1883…after working with him for twenty-two minutes…the doctors brought him to my side as I still lay on the delivery table. I saw him but he never saw me….because he died from a heart defect…and just as God had shown me…he had moved my little one from ‘death to life’….for His own plans and purposes. Just as God had shown me fifteen years earlier…at the time I was seeing my little one….my little one was seeing ‘life’ in the City of God. Two angels were present in the delivery room at the time…one was mine whom I had seen about twenty years earlier…the other was my baby’s….there to help us both in this ‘death to life’ event. God ‘gives’ life and He alone ‘takes’ life. No other has that authority. So when the saints are martyrd…it because of the POWER of God over Life….not because of the power of Satan over live. In God there is NO DEFEAT. Martryrdom is DELIVERANCE…not DEFEAT. I ‘luv’ the 11th and 12th chapters of Hebrews since they fully discuss the ‘casting away’ of Christians by the ‘world’..in the world but not of the world…is the norm…not the exception. In light of the fact that Christ is our ‘rock, shield, deliverer, fortress, and strength’….the following makes perfect sense..”Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God Heb 12:2). At my blogsite, internetelias.wordpress.com, many months ago I posted Corrie Ten Booms letter …written at about age 84…concerning her own persecutions..and especially concerning the persecution and martyring of saints in China. She bemoaned the failure of Christians to acknowledge the realities of persecution and tribulation in the world for the true saints of God. She felt we should not only acknowledge the reality….but that we should prepare for the reality of martyrdom. AWESOME!
Sorry to be so lengthy….I was touched deeply by the post as it relates to Steven…and especially as it relates to todays martyrs in Afganistan and around the world…many still happening in China.
WOOPS…that would be 1983….that my little Benjamin was born and died….named after Jacob and Rachel’s Benjamin.
Carolyn, Thank for your passionate input!