The CEO of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, Pastor Foley has stated that at least 36 of his workers have been martyred during his tenure.
When we think of traits that would characterise martyrs, what do you normally think of? Someone who can lift themselves up by their bootstraps? Unreserved zeal? Unfaltering resolve? I praise God that these are not primarily the traits He looks for.
Pastor Foley stated that the primary characteristic of these martyrs was the way that they interpreted time. He stated there are two ways to interpret time: one is that moment-by-moment, time comes to us as an empty canvas as something to be capitalised on with zeal and boldness – we ourselves paint a portrait in service to Christ. The other is that moment-by-moment, the canvas is not empty, but in fact, has already been painted by Christ himself – this being purchased by the cross – and our response, is to walk in it by grace. The result of this is a life lived not in sporadic zeal but in consistent peace.
The word martyr means to be a witness, in fact, it is the word that is used most to describe Christians in the New Testament. In Acts 1, Jesus says, You will be my martyrs (witnesses) … So then, we can say that a martyr is someone who looks to the Lord Jesus Christ and His grace daily.
Christians in North Korea are good examples of this. In the West when we have a problem that needs to be resolved, we immediately look to our resources such as our money and plan accordingly – when we go to eat breakfast for example, we do not think that God has prepared this for us. In North Korea however, abundant resources do not exist and yet the Gospel is being spread effectively as people look to Christ. In other words, every moment Christians are relying on Christ himself to “Prepare good works in advance for us to do that we may walk in them.” The Christians in North Korea are praying for us in the West because our abundance has depleted our need for a daily dependence on Christ.
Are you a daily witness of Christ? Perhaps some of our biggest deficiencies in the Christian walk is not pure zeal – Muslims and soldiers could run circles around most of us – but faith itself in the work that Christ has purchased on the cross.
In speaking of the most recent martyr, Pastor Foley said that his bloodied body bore the marks of being stabbed several times in the head. He also suggested that the look of peace on his face was due to his total dependence on Christ. The Apostle Paul said it well when he said “work out your salvation with fear and trembling because it is God who works in you both to will and to work according to His good pleasure.”
This month’s challenge: Perhaps you are too afraid to make a financial decision to support the persecuted because of how it may affect your plans for the future. This month, meditate on the Scriptures regarding God’s sovereign workings for you in relation to the persecuted. Please give to those who are in need so that God can use your resources as the paint on the canvas that He is painting for them.