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Ranavalona I, the queen of Madagascar, hated the Christians in her kingdom. Her complaints against them were many: they despised her idols, they were always praying, They always went to church, and their women were chaste. She sent officers to gather all those suspected of being Christians to bring them to trial.

Sixteen hundred believers, when the charges were read, announced confidently, “Guilty.” They would not deny the charges, for to do so would be to deny Christ. The Queen offered them a second chance to deny Christ and bow to her idols, but each refused. They were thrown into dark, dank dungeons, and many were executed. The Queen was angered more, because for each Christian she had killed, twenty more rose up.

Later, the Queen ordered that fifteen Christians be executed. They were to be thrown over a cliff into a rocky ravine 150 feet below. The Queen’s idols were taken to the top of the cliff, and each Christian was lowered slightly over the edge, tied with ropes.

“Will you worship your Christ or the Queen’s gods?” the soldiers asked each Christian hanging over the precipice.

Each Christian answered, simply, “Christ.” The ropes were cut, and they plunged to the rocks. Some sang as they fell to their deaths. One young girl was spared and declared insane. She later founded a large church.

In most countries, defendants are presumed innocent until they are proven guilty. The underlying principle is that there must be a substantial amount of evidence to convict a person of a crime. Expressing one’s faith in Christ is often a government offense in many countries where the roles of the justice system are reversed. Believers are guilty until proved otherwise. One would have to reject Christ in order to be innocent—in a human, earthly courtroom. However in heaven’s courtroom, the guilty verdict is actually a victory. “Extreme guilt” means providing so much evidence of one’s faith in Christ that there is no way to be acquitted of the charge! The familiar paradox is worth repeating: If you were on trial for being a Christian today, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Story from our daily devotional book. For more info go to