Have you ever thought about what you would do if you had to literally lay down your life for Christ? Would you have the courage and strength to stand firm in your faith and witness of our Lord and Savior? I ashamedly admit, I don't know if I would have that strength. Used to be, here in America, the thought of someone dying for their faith was something from the past, or something in a far away country. Because yes, Christians are still paying that ultimate price even in this day and age. And the way this country is headed, I can see it becoming more and more important to strengthen ones faith in Jesus and lean on Him in the face of possible persecution.
I pray that the Lord would strengthen me if persecution comes, as He has done in the past and still does today in other countries. That is what the book I would like to share with you today is about. Bearing Witness: Stories of Martyrdom and Costly Discipleship was edited by Charles E. Moore and Timothy Keiderling, and it was published by Plough Publishing House.
The book is divided into four parts in addition to the introduction.
- Part I: Early Christians
- Part II: Radical Reformers
- Part III: Early Modern Witnesses
- Part IV: Recent Witnesses
All in all, there are a total of 36 stories of Christians who have died for their faith. Because some of the stories contain more than one person, this book shares the stories of more than 46 individuals who became martyrs for Christ. Of course, many more have died through the years, but these are the stories that have been chosen to be included in this book. Bearing Witness continues the tradition of sharing the stories of those who have suffered and died in the name of Jesus. There have been compilations of such stories in the past. In fact, I remember my old church had a copy of Martyr's Mirror that shares the story of "some fifteen hundred Anabaptists who were imprisoned, tortured, and killed for their faith during the sixteenth century."
At the beginning of the book we are reminded of Jesus word's, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it."
I found the introduction, written by John D. Roth and Elizabeth Miller, quite informative. This book came about as a part of the Bearing Witness Stories Project. This project is, "a collaborative story-gathering project involving Anabaptist believers from many different traditions and locations." Being a member of a Mennonite church, I was quite intrigued when I discovered that the editors focused on Anabaptist martyrs and others who suffered for their commitment to believer's baptism and nonviolence. In this book we see how the Christians welcomed and embraced the chance to die for their Lord. We see how they respond in love to those who are their enemies, just as Jesus did.I found the information on the qualifications for Christian martyrdom quite interesting. The introduction also explains why we still need to hear these martyr stories in this day and age, especially here in America.
The accounts of Christian martyrs begins with a story from the Bible, the story of Stephen who was stoned for professing Christ. I found the stories of the early Christians who died for their faith eye opening. To realize that these Christians could stand in the face of such torture and still proclaim faith in their Lord. In the early days, it was the Roman empire that was persecuting Christians for not bowing to their gods and Caesar. Later, the radical reformers were standing against false doctrine of the Catholic church, dying because they believed differently than what they were supposed to. I think these stories get me the most. I have heard some of these stories in the past (such as the account of Dirk Willems), and it baffles me that those who professed to work in the name of Christ would kill other Christians because they disagreed with doctrine.
The accounts in this book are sure to strengthen your faith and will make you realize that there is a cost to following Jesus.
Great news! I have been given the opportunity to offer a giveaway for one person to win their own copy of Bearing Witness: Stories of Martyrdom and Costly Discipleship.
All you need to do is enter in the Rafflecopter form below.
There are only 2 simple mandatory entries, with the remainder of the entries being optional.
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This giveaway is open to US residents 18 and over.
The giveaway runs May 25th through June 5th.
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