CHRISTIAN MARTYRS

Posted by Doris Aldrich
Aug 14 2010

In trying to make sense of the recent death of a Christian friend to our children, we were reminded of the words of George McDonald:  We should teach our children to think no more of their bodies when dead than they do of their hair when cut off, or of their old clothes when they have done with them.

Our dear friends were captured, then brutally murdered one by one.  Their martyrdom has deeply moved all of us who worked side-by-side throughout the years with those who gave up their lives in the rugged mountains of their beloved Afghanistan.

We find strength in remembering the Christian martyrs that have gone on before, and hold to those same hopes for ourselves as we continue our work in Afghanistan and other remote areas of Central Asia.

This poem strengthened John and Betty Stam, martyred in China, during the dangerous Chinese Revolution.  They should have feared for their lives, but when a bandit placed a gun to the head of a fellow missionary, the bandit threatened by saying, “I am going to kill you.  Aren’t you afraid?”  “No, I am not afraid,” he replied, “If you kill me, I will go right to God.”

We may confess similar emotions, but we are often unable to give the reasons for the Hope that within us.  We embrace fear because we are uninformed.

This poem is relevant, and I can hear the voice of my good friend, Dr. Tom Little, voicing his own version of this poem, knowing the end is near.

“Afraid? Of What?

To feel the spirit’s glad release?

To pass from pain to perfect peace,

The strife and strain of life to cease?

Afraid—of that?

Afraid?  Of What?

Afraid to see the Savior’s Face,

To hear his welcome, and to trace

The glory gleam from wounds of grace?

Afraid—of that?

Afraid?  Of What?

A flash, a crash, a pierced heart!

Darkness, light, O Heaven’s art!

A wound of His a counterpart?

Afraid—of that?

Afraid?  Of What?

To do by death what life could not—

Baptized with blood a stony plot,

Till souls shall blossom from the spot?

Afraid—of that?

This poem, written by E. H. Hamilton, after hearing of the death of his dear friends in China, continues to comfort us as we consider the choices that lay before us in our work.

At these times of loss and heartache, we recall the words of Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland (1274-1329), minutes before his death, “Now, God be with you, my dear children.  I have breakfasted with you and shall sup with my Lord Jesus Christ.”

Holding tight our resolve, we must test ourselves to know if this is true in our own hearts.

In Philippians we find the three great desires that drove the apostles.  One was to be found in Christ (Philippians 3:9)  the other was to magnify Christ (Philippians 1:20); and the third was to be with Christ (Philippians 1:23).  Thomas Watson pulled together this trio of Truth for you and me.  Yet, we must answer for ourselves if we are able to embrace fully these words:  “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:…”

There is no greater pleasure than to remember Tom Little as a walking example of the Apostle’s mighty words of his life goal:  “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  For all who worked, studied, imagined, and prayed with Tom, this was the unwritten message of his life here on Earth.

For such a life as Tom’s has registered this genuine proof to an entire nation.

How are we to grieve the loss?  My prayer is that all those like-minded servants, like Tom Little, who have gone before – will find us faithful…faithful to the honored call of serving these same precious people through our own lives, in the body or outside the body.

Are we willing to abandon the comforts of Western life for such a glorious hope? Which is far better for you?  Which is far better for me?

Now is the time to answer the question.

We are thankful for Tom’s consistent life-message that will prove to drive us on to the end of our task.

Doris Aldrich

President

Women to the World

2010

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