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In The Presence Of My Enemies

Have you ever thought that you may one day be asked to be a martyr for the cause of Christ?

I just finished the book "In The Presence Of My Enemies" by Gracia Burnham.  Gracia and her husband Martin were missionaries for New Tribes Mission organization in the Philippines.  It is the account of her and her husbands kidnapping at the hands of the Abu Sayyaf - an extremest Islamic terrorist group located in the Philippines with connections to Al Qaeda. For over a year, they endured hunger, hardship and even torture.  They were among several others that were kidnapped while in the Dos Palmas resort in the southern Philippine islands.  I encourage you to pick-up a copy and read it.  It's one of those books you just can't put down.

Reading this book brought tears to my eyes several times and reminded me of some of the statements Jesus made regarding the subjects of persecution and martyrdom.  Matthew 5:10-12 says, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."  It's mentioned in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 as well as many other passages.  The majority of the apostles, including Paul, were martyred. Should we expect to confront this in our lifetime?

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (2006) says that an average of 171,000 Christians worldwide are martyred for their faith per year. Voice Of The Martyrs is constantly reporting on persecution and martyrdom around the world. Most American Christians have no idea of what many missionaries endure at the hands of those who literally hate the name of Christ.  Distributing Bibles, having a church gathering, conducting a Bible study or just giving a cup of water in Jesus name can result in prison, torture or even death.

Whenever I hear of another Christian going to his or her death because of Christ, I remember the story of Stephen and how Jesus stood up to welcome the first martyr and possibly first Christian to enter Heaven under the new covenant. As he gazed at Jesus standing by the Father awaiting his arrival, he fell asleep.  I hope current day martyrs who have given their livelihood and their lives for the cause of Christ experience the same welcome.

Is it coming?  Will it happen here? In my opinion, it's getting closer every day and approaching more rapidly than ever before.  Let's prepare ourselves, our children and our grandchildren for what lies ahead. Let's do all we can to make sure they stay true to Christ and the faith and don't become a statistic of 1 Timothy 4:1, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith..."

God Bless You!

PB

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Published Monday, August 10, 2009 9:52 AM by Pastor Bill
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