If We Should Have to Die


Although prepared for martyrdom, I prefer that it be postponed. —Winston Churchill

The end of October brought us three Indonesian girls beheaded for no other reason than their faith in Christ. Just last week, two Christian girls were shot in the head, one of them having since died. President Bush goes to China even as three Chinese Christians are imprisoned The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayerfor the crime of printing Bibles for the Chinese people to read.

All I ask is one question: Are you prepared to be martyred for the Lord Jesus Christ?

I suspect that Churchill's witticism is closer to the hearts of most Christians in America than the image of five dead American missionaries lying half submerged in an Ecuadoran river bed. Shouldn't the idea of martyrdom make it at least a fraction more difficult to get excited about loading our new iPod Nano with a thousand CCM offerings? Shouldn't the increased persecution of Christians in Eritrea, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, China, Vietnam, and a plethora of other countries cause us to stop for a second during the orgy of shopping that passes for Christmas today?

Although this last Sunday was designated International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, this issue of martyrdom has been on my mind since the day I first confessed Christ as Lord. Yet I don't meet too many Christians who actually think about it at all. I rarely hear about martyrdom from the pulpits in most churches in this country. It's something that happens elsewhere, but not here. We console ourselves with the fact that some anti-Christian punk might take a key to our Volvo, but that's as far as it goes.

It went a lot farther for four Indonesian girls who paid the ultimate price for their profession, didn't it? Did their churches teach that one day they might have to die because the world hated them?

The world doesn't really hate us here in America. We've camouflaged ourselves so readily with worldliness that no self-labeled persecutor of the Church would even be able to find us, much less martyr us for the Faith. We've got an appointment tomorrow with our Crown Financial consultant to go over our 401k distribution, don't we?

Not only have we not counted the cost all that well, but we've ignored it all together. Death is such a sticky thing and the less we bring up the subject, the more likely it is that we can postpone it altogether, especially if it involves winding up on the wrong end of a spear in a jungle. No jungles around here, right?

That jungle just may be coming to us, though. Even then, the sad truth for a lot of us, including myself, is that our lights may be so dim that the real haters of Christ may not feel that we're worth a spear. Why snuff a smoldering wick when there are still a few floodlights to deal with—emphasis on few.

I suspect that too many of us are working overtime to ensure that everyone loves us rather than living for Christ in such a way that everyone hates us. I know I don't feel especially hated. I must be doing something wrong. Yes, I've heard the conspiracies about the warehouses in upstate New York (or California or Wyoming or wherever) filled with guillotines so that the U.N. can more easily dispatch American Christians when the time comes. That scenario is not nearly as scary as the one where U.N. operatives under control of the antichrist can just let the guillotine blades rust because there's no one left in North America who still believes in Christ enough to warrant losing a head.

Let's face facts—we're not ready. The American Church is about as prepared to be martyred as it is to be fêted by the homosexual lobby. Can't remember the last time any noted Christian conference speaker (in front of a crowd that paid $300 each to hear him) delivered a message on how to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. Better to save that money for the latest iPod!

Voice of the Martyrs

Prisoner Alert

The Barnabas Fund

Open Doors Ministries

{Image: detail from The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1883}

9 thoughts on “If We Should Have to Die

  1. Susan

    If Christians in America stopped giving everything at the altar of mammon, we’d be hated pretty quick – our economic infrastructure would collapse!

  2. Susan,

    That tension we live in is a difficult one. By nature, we consume. The question is how much is too much and what we are doing to ourselves and our relationship with the Lord because of how we consume and work to support our consumption.

    I covered a lot of that in my series on business. Have you read it? I wish every Christian would question whether or not the system we have today is the best God would have for us, and if it is not, then what should be done to change it?


  3. Dan: “We’ve got an appointment tomorrow with our Crown Financial consultant to go over our 401k distribution, don’t we?”

    Yep, the topic will be a reconfiguration of the portfolio towards mutual funds that maximize returns from international investments in the expanding and growing economy of Communist China. Yep, everybody from Bill Gates on down is hankering to do ever more business in China*.

    Ain’t the global economy just hunky-dory wonderful?

    *�which is ruled over by those wonderful Communist mandarins who wouldn’t give a second thought to machine-gunning down unarmed, peaceful demonstrators, or throwing xtians in prison, or stealing valuable military secrets from the U.S.

  4. Kathy

    Here are a few more links to groups working with the persecuted:

    Gospel for Asia

    International Christian Concern

    Christian Freedom International

    My husband and I have supported pastors and/or displaced families through these organizations for quite awhile, and they are legitimate.

    I read something by Corrie Ten Boom once that comforted me. When asked how she prepared for persecution (by the Nazis), she replied that one cannot prepare to be persecuted, but can only pray for the strength that is required at the time. She trusted God’s grace.

    I wish that more American Christians cared about our brothers and sisters in jails, in refugee camps, and under house arrest.

  5. I think about it too Dan. The Christians in Sudan are particularly on my heart. I think if we aren’t facing that kind of persecution then the best response is to do what we can for those who are.
    In some ways your question asking if we are willing to be martyred is unanswerable. I’m not facing that. Rather than working up a response that isn’t required I’d rather have one that is – which is why I think the links you’ve provided at the end of the post are very helpful.

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