November 07, 2006

Voice of the Martyrs

Hi Friends. I just finished re-reading Hearts of Fire, a book written about 8 women's stories of accepting Christ and how that changed their lives. In the free world if someone accepts Christ what changes? I study and ask God to help me fine tune my spiritual walk. I don't watch R rated movies - trash in trash out. I listen to Christian music - holy in holy out. I try and help other people in their walk. I spend time in prayer looking for where God would have me. I try to take captive my thoughts for Jesus....this list goes on, but in essence it is not that hard. Fighting my carnal nature seems extremely overwhelming at times, but that might be as tough as it gets. Some people might look at me and think I am a religious freak, and maybe I have just taken this whole "spiritual walk" thing a bit too far. I think I have not gone far enough, and I know that God will grow me more and more every day. I can look at my life with Christ as the center and compare it to my life without Christ and I have peace where there was none, joy where there was only temperal happiness, I have an understanding of why I am on earth, there is a plan for me, a higher calling than live, work, play, die. There is a higher calling for each and every being created whether we choose that or live life with our eyes closed to that calling is purely a choice. What I am getting at is that for the most part I am in no bodily danger for choosing to be a Christian.
The women (and young teenagers) in the book I just finished choose Christ at a cost. The cost for them is being disowned, beaten, jailed, spit on and hunted by the police and by their families who would think it best that they be killed rather than bring dishonor to their family name. These women and other Christians who choose Christ where the laws prevent free religion, religion on the governments terms is the only easy option. They chose Christ. They started sharing the story of Christ many never having even seen a bible only a traveling preacher who told the story. Bibles obviously are not allowed in their countries, they must be smuggled in at great risk to the deliverer. Some of these women have chosen to help others by being the smugglers of the bibles. They put their lives on the line every day for Christ. Their friends have been murdered right in front of their faces, and their faith is unwavering - the Holy Spirit is well with them.
One of the young women, she was a teenager. Her name is Ling. She had been called to share the word of Jesus. She lives in China (1973). She did not have a bible, she had only heard the story of Christ. Without a bible she set out to share His story. After a while of sharing Christ, she had heard of a woman who had some bibles 4 miles away. She ran there, asked the women for the bible. The woman would only give Ling a bible if she memorized the Lord's prayer. Ling ran back to town and went to the only believer in the town who had a bible. Knocked on his door and asked him to look at his bible to copy the Lord's Prayer so she could memorize it. He carefully handed her his handwritten bible, his hands were malformed from handwriting his bible, word for word, from someone else's bible. It was a treasure to him. Ling copied the prayer, memorized it, went back to the woman and quoted the prayer. She gave Ling a bible and told her she had to make sure she was serious about needing a bible. The woman had found these bibles washed up on shore from a boat of missionaries and had hand dried each page. Ling has been jailed numerous times, beaten, and suffers for Christ. She would have it no other way, she would choose death rather than denounce Christ.
Ling still shares the word of God today and in the epilogue of her story it says that she was very excited about the 2008 Olympic games coming to Bejing, she thinks that it will be an incredible opportunity for house churches to grow and flourish.
Reading the stories of these women and their families really helps me put in perspective my life and my choices. The apostle Paul talks about his suffering for Christ and that testimony is very powerful, but there is just something even more concrete about hearing stories of our brothers and sisters in Christ suffering that helps me kick my walk up a notch. There are several books out there on martyr's for Christ. You can also click here to go to the Voice of the Martyrs website which is like an online magazine and gives updates on persecution. They are the voice that get's out the needs and happenings of someone we will meet in heaven someday. You can write a letter to a persecuted Christian, find out who needs our prayers, and most of all raise your awareness of what the cost for Christ is for people who do not live where they are free to worship.
When we are forced to make serious choices for our faith, God is with us each step of the way, filling us with His Spirit in proportion to what we need, with God all things are possible.
Father God be with these struggling men, women and children who are bringing your message to people in their land. They are following your call at a huge cost. I pray blessings of encouragement on these wonderful souls. Help me be more like them. In Jesus Name, Amen