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“Collect some wood!” the soldiers snarled. Young James Jeda assumed that the soldiers were about to cook their dinner. Earlier that day, he had watched, horrified, as the radical Muslim soldiers killed his parents and four siblings in Southern Sudan. They spared James only to use him as a worker.

When the fire was well lit, James was surprised and terrified when they suddenly grabbed him, and he tried to flee. But the soldiers were too strong, and soon they had tied his hands and feet.
“Good news for you, young one,” said a soldier. “We are going to let you live. But you must join us by becoming a Muslim.”

“I cannot become a Muslim,” James said simply. “I am a Christian.” Infuriated by the young boy’s faith, the soldiers picked him up and hurled him into the fire. They packed up their gear and left the area, assuming James would die.

Young James didn’t die. He managed to roll out of the fire and find help.

Doctors were able to save James’s life, but he will always carry reminders of that day. His body bears skin grafts and scar tissue, and one arm is partially deformed by the burns. In heaven, those scars will be honor bars, a reminder of the day when James Jeda refused to turn his back on Christ.

Most people are suckers for souvenirs. One can hardly make it through the gauntlet of gift shops at an airport or train station without succumbing to the temptation to buy a memento of the trip’s experience. But what is there to remind us of our most significant life experience—our commitment to Christ? Some will look at their paycheck and remember the promotion they declined because they were not willing to compromise their morals. Others, upon seeing a public school classroom, will recall where they first learned what it was like to be persecuted. Still others will see a gravestone of a believer and be reminded of the meaning of commitment. These “souvenirs” are infinitely significant reminders of the price of faith in Jesus Christ.

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