“Don’t do it,” Nicholas yelled as he saw the executioner lift his sword to kill another prisoner. “He’s done nothing to deserve this.” The man was about to be executed for his faith in Jesus Christ. Nicholas bravely grabbed the executioner’s sword before it penetrated the prisoner’s flesh.
“Have it your way Nicholas . . . I have many others to kill today.” The executioner spat as he walked away and resumed his duties elsewhere. Nicholas boldly spoke up for Christ at a difficult time in history. In the year 303, Emperor Diocletian began one of the most brutal persecutions
of Christians. So many Christians were killed that the executioners were exhausted and took turns at their work.
Nicholas was branded with hot irons. He survived terrible beatings from the guards. And he endured other torture as well—simply for refusing to deny that Jesus is the Son of God. How could he deny the one who was so real to him? Nicholas remained resolute in the midst of great injustice.
After being released from prison, he spent the rest of his life establishing orphanages and protecting poor children. He was committed to advancing the gospel of Christ in creative ways. Once, he even threw money wrapped in a stocking through the window of a home of two very poor girls so they would not be sold to a house of prostitution.
Many years after his death, Nicholas was affectionately called St. Nicholas. For many children, the night before Christmas is the most magical night of the year as they await a visit from Santa Claus, a caricature of St. Nicholas. The real life story behind St. Nicholas is much more heroic and loving than most children could even dream. Think about your own life’s story. Do people know the truth about your faith in Jesus Christ? Or do they merely know you as an affectionate and unusually moral person? Although Santa Claus is not real, St. Nicholas was and you must be too. You may not feel like a saint, but the world needs real examples of resolute Christians. What will you do today to live your faith in a real way?
Taken from Voice of the Martyrs book Extreme Devotion:
Though the Soviet invaders were terrorizing their country, the Romanian children walked steadily towards the Russian soldiers with warm, confident smiles on their faces.
The soldiers greeted them kindly, patting them on the head. Each soldier was thinking of his own children, whom they had been forced to leave behind in Russia.
“Have some candy,” said one of the officers, holding out a handful of chocolate to the youngsters, who eagerly grabbed the hard-to-find treats. “Thank you, sir,” the boys said. “We have gifts for you as well.” They dug into their pockets, pulling out gospel tracts and New Testaments in Russian. “What is this?” the soldiers asked. “It is a book of Good News,” the boys said through mouths full of chocolate. The soldiers thumbed through the tracts.
One officer recognized the booklets as being religious and knew the dangers. He looked down at the children with deep concern in his eyes. If adults had handed out the material, he would have to arrest them. But what harm could these children do? he thought.
What the officer didn’t know was that these children had passed out hundreds of tracts and New Testaments, helping many in the Russian army find God. These children were enlisted into another “army” with an eternal “battle.” Where adults could not safely minister, children walked through a wide-open door with the Gospel.
The difference between a pessimist and an optimist is the difference between “can’t” and “can.” Certainly, believers in both religiously restricted nations and countries with religious freedom encounter closed doors. In some countries, possessing a Bible means a jail sentence. In America, the “separation of church and state” is often taken to extremes. Sometimes our focus on what we are not supposed to do as Christians makes us miss God’s opportunities. We see the closed doors more readily than we see the open ones. For example, while missionaries cannot enter restricted nations as such, “professional” workers are recruited! We can also support national Christian workers who live there. The door is open. Walk through it.
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The case against three Christians who were arrested last summer in Alexandria has been dismissed after an appeal was made by their lawyer. The young men, one of them a minor, were accused of blasphemy during an evangelistic outreach.
All three were being investigated, pending possible charges of “showing disdain to a heavenly religion” under a statute that in every way ─ except for its official title ─ constitutes a blasphemy law. Thankfully, the Attorney General of Alexandria dismissed the case on 2 February, although the ruling was not officially issued until the 24th.
Osama (Fawzi) Ibrahim, 16, was arrested for handing out small bags of dates to passers-by on the streets of Alexandria. In addition to the fruit, each bag contained a statement about God’s love, as well as the name of an Arabic-language website providing information about Jesus and the Christian faith. When friends Stephen Boutros Fayed, 21, and Shady Saeed, 20, went to the police station where Osama was being held, they were also arrested. Despite there being no evidence that the young people were handing out the bags together, police held all three of them in jail.
Source: Morning Star News
- Praise God for His intervention in the lives of the three young men.
- Pray that they will not be deterred by this incident, but rather spurred on to continue sharing the good news of the Gospel.
- Pray the Lord will bring a plentiful harvest throughout Egypt of spiritual fruit for God’s glorious Kingdom.
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