Posted in comfort, martyr, strength in the Lord, Sunday martyr moment

Sunday Martyr Moment: Sanctus, Blandina, and Ponticus

By Elizabeth Prata*

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Text from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs:

Continuing the Fourth Persecution under Marcus Aurelius, 162AD

Some of the restless northern nations having risen in arms against Rome, the emperor marched to encounter them. He was, however, drawn into an ambuscade, and dreaded the loss of his whole army. Enveloped with mountains, surrounded by enemies, and perishing with thirst, the pagan deities were invoked in vain; when the men belonging to the militine, or thundering legion, who were all Christians, were commanded to call upon their God for succor. A miraculous deliverance immediately ensued; a prodigious quantity of rain fell, which, being caught by the men, and filling their dykes, afforded a sudden and astonishing relief. It appears that the storm which miraculously flashed in the face of the enemy so intimidated them, that part deserted to the Roman army; the rest were defeated, and the revolted provinces entirely recovered.

This affair occasioned the persecution to subside for some time, at least in those parts immediately under the inspection of the emperor; but we find that it soon after raged in France, particularly at Lyons, where the tortures to which many of the Christians were put, almost exceed the powers of description.

Sanctus, a deacon of Vienna; red hot plates of brass were placed upon the tenderest parts of his body; and kept there till they burned through to his bones.

Blandina, a Christian lady, of a weak constitution; who was not thought to be able to resist torture, but whose fortitude was so great that her tormentors became exhausted with their devilish work, and was afterward taken into an amphitheater with three others, suspended on a piece of wood stuck in the ground, and exposed as food for wild lions. While awaiting her suffering, she prayed earnestly for her companions and encouraged them. But none of the lions would touch her, so she was put back into prison. This happened twice.

When she was again produced for the third and last time, she was accompanied by Ponticus, a youth of fifteen, and the constancy of their faith so enraged the multitude that neither the sex of the one nor the youth of the other were respected, being exposed to all manner of punishments and tortures. Being strengthened by Blandina, he persevered unto death; and she, after enduring all the torments heretofore mentioned, was at length slain with the sword.

 

—end Foxe’s text

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lord, I am weak of fortitude, but I can be strengthened supernaturally, like Blandina, to endure all things. Would I be strong enough to pray for and encourage compatriots whilst impaled on a stick, suspended above milling and hungry lions? No. But I can do all things through You who strengthens me. You did not desert Blandina in her trial, and no matter what comes for me and my faithful brethren now or in the future, you will not desert us. You are Lord, and You are faithful.

*This essay first appeared on The End Time in August 2013

Posted in justin, martyr, Sunday martyr moment

Sunday Martyr Moment: Justin Martyr, Felicitatis, others

By Elizabeth Prata*

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Text from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs:

Justin Martyr

The cruelties against Christians under Marcus Aurelius were so inhuman that many of those who watched them shuddered with horror, and were astonished at the courage of the sufferers. Some of the martyrs had their feet crushed in presses, and were then forced to walk over thorns, nails, sharp shells, and other pointed objects. Others were whipped until their sinews and veins were exposed. Then after suffering the most excruciating tortures that could be devised they were killed in terrible ways. Yet few turned from Christ or begged their torturer to lessen their pain.

Metrodorus, a minister, who preached boldly, and Pionius, who made some excellent apologies for the Christian faith, were likewise burnt. Carpus and Papilus, two worthy Christians, and Agatonica, a pious woman, suffered martyrdom at Pergamopolis, in Asia.

Felicitatis, an illustrious Roman lady, of a considerable family, and the most shining virtues, was a devout Christian. She had seven sons, whom she had educated with the most exemplary piety. All of them were martyred.

Januarius, the eldest son of Felicitatus, was scourged, and pressed to death with weights; Felix and Philip, the two next had their brains dashed out with clubs; Silvanus, the fourth, was murdered by being thrown from a precipice; and the three younger sons, Alexander, Vitalis, and Martial, were beheaded. The mother was beheaded with the same sword as the three latter.

Justin, the celebrated philosopher, fell a martyr in this persecution. He was a native of Neapolis, in Samaria, and was born A.D. 103. Justin was a great lover of truth, and a universal scholar; he investigated the Stoic and Peripatetic philosophy, and attempted the Pythagorean; but the behavior of its professors disgusting him, he applied himself to the Platonic, in which he took great delight. About the year 133, when he was thirty years of age, he became a convert to Christianity, and then, for the first time, perceived the real nature of truth.

He wrote an elegant epistle to the Gentiles, and employed his talents in convincing the Jews of the truth of the Christian rites; spending a great deal of time in travelling, until he took up his abode in Rome, and fixed his habitation upon the Viminal mount.

He kept a public school, taught many who afterward became great men, and wrote a treatise to confuse heresies of all kinds. As the pagans began to treat the Christians with great severity, Justin wrote his first apology in their favor. Justin’s arguments overpowered Crescens and so disturbed him that he resolved to destroy Justin. This piece displays great learning and genius, and occasioned the emperor to publish a decree in favor of the Christians.

I fell in love with the prophets and these men who had loved Christ; I reflected on all their words and found that this philosophy alone was true and profitable. ~Justin Martyr
Soon after, he entered into frequent contests with Crescens, a person of a vicious life and conversation, but a celebrated cynic philosopher. The second defense that Justin wrote on behalf of the Christians gave Crescens the opportunity he needed. He convinced the emperor that Justin was dangerous to him whereupon Justin and six followers were arrested and ordered to sacrifice to pagan idols. When they refused, they were scourged and beheaded. –end text from Foxxe’s Book of Martyrs

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lord, we know that the unregenerate heart and unsanctified mind can devise horror after horror. The Holocaust showed us the depths of man’s inhumanity to man and the future Tribulation will exceed even those horrors. It’s unimaginable what the Christians who preceded us went through, but thank You for your grace and comfort to them while they were under trial. I know that many hearts were converted upon seeing their courage, which was the strength of the Holy Spirit in them. As this time at the end of the Age of Grace draws to a close, I pray You deliver the same strength and courage to today’s martyrs. So that once more, many hearts are converted as they see dark evil of hate and torture against Your light of holy eternity in pure hearts proclaiming Your name even as they die under the sword.

——————————-
Further Reading:

Christian History: Justin Martyr

*This essay first appeared on The End Time in August 2013

Posted in foxe's book of martyrs, goose, john huss, martin luther, martyr

Sunday Martyr Moment: John Huss, “The goose is cooked”

By Elizabeth Prata*

John Huss was burned at the stake on July 6, 1415. The following below is excerpted from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. John Huss was killed by the Roman Catholic Church for the ‘heresy’ of proclaiming that Christ is the Head of the church and that salvation is in Christ alone. The martyrs died proclaiming Jesus is the head of the church and so many foolish people today have wantonly substituted idols for Him instead. Continue reading “Sunday Martyr Moment: John Huss, “The goose is cooked””

Posted in christian persecution, martyr, Sunday martyr moment

Sunday Martyr Moment: James, Timon, Parmenas, Philip

I am reading Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

John_Foxe_from_NPG_cleaned“Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.” Continue reading “Sunday Martyr Moment: James, Timon, Parmenas, Philip”

Posted in america, end time, jesus, martyr, spirit

Martyrdom in America and the ‘indomitable human spirit’

On October 1, 2015 a mass shooting took place at an Oregon Community College. The lone gunman shot and killed 9 people and injured 9 others before turning his weapon on himself as police arrived and a battle ensued.

The shooting at Umpqua CC was one of the deadliest in recent memory. The list of school shootings just in recent years is depressingly long. In addition to the UCC shooting this week in Oregon, are the 2015 shootings at Emmanuel African Methodist Church in which 9 were killed during a worship service, the 2012 Aurora CO movie theater shooting, and several recent shootings at military installations such as Ft. Hood and US Navy Yard.

In 2015, The Washington Post reported 204 mass shootings occurring in the U.S. in that year alone, according to ShootingTracker.com. In August 2015, the Washington Post reported that the United States was averaging one mass shooting per day. As of October 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama had given eleven speeches on eleven different mass shootings. (source).

One difference with this particular shooting in Oregon is that the shooter targeted Christians. In Charleston, though it was a church shooting, the motivation was racial. In other shootings, the gunman was a disgruntled employee targeting the workplace or simply an angry young madman locating a place where great numbers of people gather. The Umpqua Community College shooting is unique and represents a deepening of the exposure of our human spirit’s depravity. But before I delve into that biblical discussion, here are the facts surrounding this latest incident.

As the gunman entered the classroom at the Community College, he told all the students, adults, and teachers in the room to lay on the floor. Then he demanded that each one rise in turn and state their religion. If they said nothing, or ‘other’, they were maimed. If they said they were a Christian, the gunman reportedly replied,

“‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second,” Stacy Boylan said in a televised report. “And then he shot and killed them.”

The United States has been relatively shielded from direct assault on Christians solely due to their religion. This shielding is obviously over.

Back in June, the Supreme Court of the United States made a moral declaration in their judicial capacity, rendering an opinion that stated that homosexual people across the land had the right to marry. Wikipedia’s synopsis states,

In the United States, same-sex marriage has been legal nationwide since June 26, 2015, when the United States Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that state-level bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. The court ruled that the denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples and the refusal to recognize those marriages performed in other jurisdictions violates the Due Process and the Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The ruling overturned a precedent, Baker v. Nelson.

Most Christians recognized this as a spiritual watershed moment in our society. God sets up nations and establishes their boundaries. (Acts 17:26). Though only one nation has been specifically established to glorify Him as His special elect (Israel, Isaiah 45:4), the LORD does expect Godly behavior as the Gospel spreads. Moreover, He is always angry at sin. (Psalm 7:11).

The reverse of His setting up nations and working within them is that He also releases nations to their sin when they consistently fail to repent or when they consistently defy Him. This process is described in Romans 1:18-32. It applies to individuals but also applies en masse to nations when enough of the people consistently choose sin over God. That great nations and empires come and go is testament to His work within them. Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, the British Empire … all consigned to the dustbin of history as once great but no more. This isn’t an accident of history but a purposeful work of God.

When the SCOTUS decision came down in June 2015, many American Christians remarked that it seemed that God had turned the US over to its sin and allowed a hardening to take place. At that time, Dr John MacArthur had some wise and encouraging words. He preached that the decision to encourage sch a particularly depraved sin, having reached the highest levels, was a marker that God had indeed turned America over. This hardening and release will have consequences, MacArthur said.

Practical atheism, rejection of the truth, moral relativism has always prevailed in Satan’s kingdom. But here in America we’ve been protected from that in its full fierceness. No more. And by the way, religious liberty isn’t promised to Christians, is it? Freedom isn’t promised to Christians. Persecution is. Persecution is. I think we’re going to feel it. 

There will be a barrage of persecution. These are going to be very challenging days. We will not bow. We will be gracious and we will be loving, but we will render to God what is God’s. (Source: Sermon We Will Not Bow.)

He was right. A mere three months later, Christians were murdered on US soil for the first time solely due to their stated religion. As a nation founded by religious separatists on the concepts of freedom, religious liberty, and one nation UNDER GOD, it has always seemed absurd and farcical that the kind of religious persecution written about in the first century or the Middle Ages could ever happen in the US. Then ISIS formed and many people in the 10/40 Window were martyred, persecuted, hunted and killed for their religious beliefs.

But still, it seemed far-fetched that it would happen here any time soon, despite what the Bible promised about Christians having trouble in this world. (John 16:33).

But Dr MacArthur was right, or more correctly, the Bible was right about what happens to nations that reject Him. Trouble and persecution always follows. America is certainly no exception. For some people, that fact just took a while to sink in. Then Umpqua happened and Christians were killed.

Jordan Standridge wrote at The Cripplegate yesterday about the martyrdom. Here is a short excerpt, and I recommend the entire piece-

When the Devil Points a Gun at You

The world will hate Christians 

I have to begin with this as we heard that the gunman singled out Christians in the shooting. He hated organized religion and made it a point to shoot the Christians in a fatal way. Jesus was clear that Christians will be persecuted (2 Timothy 5:12). He also tells his disciples that the world will treat them just like He was treated (John 15:20-21). When the devil points a gun at you, he desperately wants to kill Christ but he can’t get to him. But we know Christ will ultimately crush his head.

The world can’t stop the Gospel

On the day of their executions, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley knew that their burning would only enflame the light of the Gospel even more. Though John Bunyan’s tongue was silenced, the Gospel spread through his writing at a higher rate than ever before. Time and time again the world has tried to silence Christians and yet you cut a head off and two grow back. You can’t stop the Gospel. Though the devil seems to win battles, he will not win the war. When the Devil points a gun at you he desperately wants to stop the Gospel, but he can’t and it always spreads further.

Here is Adam Ford with One Simple Question

So all this was not to simply recount the news. It was to get us to this point and then remark on a comment made by CNN and former US Representative Gabrielle Giffords. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, CNN reported this comment made by Gabby Giffords. Mrs Giffords was also a victim of a shooting when a politically motivated gunman shot her in the head. She knows the emotions of being a victim of violent crime, and she has experienced the aftermath. In addition to being shot with the physical effects, her wounding ended her political career. Giffords said of the Oregon shooting,

As far as I know, Mrs Giffords is not a Christian. Her Wikipedia page lists her religion as Reformed Judaism.

The human spirit is not indomitable, unless you say it is indomitably depraved. Indomitable means “impossible to subdue or defeat.” The sin-nature that’s in all of us IS impossible to subdue or defeat, without Christ. Our indomitable human nature is exactly why we need Christ! The same community comprised of individuals who mourned the victims’ deaths and injuries at Umpqua and who will attempt to rebound from their heartbreak, is the same community comprised of individuals any of whom may turn around some day and do the exact same thing.

In my early Christian walk, as I began to grapple with the difficult concepts of
total depravity & sin, (Ecc 7:20), I worked through these concepts by
 making collages. If we could see our spirit as God sees it, it might
look like this, as I collaged my representation of the sin-nature.

I’d said that the list of US mass shootings is depressingly long. Mass shootings are not isolated incidents, happening only rarely. Serial murders are not rare. Infanticide is not rare. Abortion infanticide is not rare. They are regular, normal acts from regular, depraved people whose sin nature has not been subdued and resisted with the aid of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

You might think my attitude is excessively dark.  And indeed, things do look dark. Jesus promised that before His Second Coming the earth’s people would be like they were in the days of Noah. (Luke 17:26). Immediately prior to the Flood, the Lord withdrew His Spirit, because He will not strive with Man forever. (Genesis 6:3). The world was released to wallow in its depravity, which had descended to this:

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5).

The reality is, man’s ‘indomitable’ spirit is dark. It’s evil. Left to our own devices, we only think evil all the time. It will be that way again prior to the second judgment, when His wrath is released onto an unbelieving world during the Tribulation after the rapture when the restraining Holy Spirit is removed along with the people He dwells in. Except, Jesus promised, it will be worse. (Matthew 24:21-22).

And here is where the Light breaks.

Our God is so majestic, loving, and kind, He did not leave us to eternally deal with our indomitably evil human spirit. He begot a Son, who is Jesus. He sent His Son to incarnate into human flesh. Emptying Himself, He lived a perfectly holy and sinless life on earth. He dwelled among men and in all man’s depravity, yet in Him there was no darkness for one moment in all His days on earth. Falsely accused, Jesus allowed Himself to be beaten, scourged, spit on, maimed, stripped, and placed on a humiliating and painful cross, to die. Before His death, He took on God’s wrath for His elect’s sin.

We speak of the dark spirit of man, but think of this darkness. The moment when Jesus took on God’s wrath and absorbed the sin of the world, He was separated from God for the first time in eternity. All the world was literally dark. (Matthew 27:45)

This was so that Jesus could become the perfect sacrifice needed to please God and exhaust God’s wrath. God raised Jesus in the flesh the third day, and He ascended to the Father, where He reigns until He comes again.

Now what sinners must do is believe this Gospel. Believe your spirit is not pure and white and able to conquer anger, sin, and death. But believe that Jesus conquered sin and death and became the Door through which we may enter Holy heaven, pure and undefiled, because Jesus is pure and undefiled. The Light has come! Read this, slowly, even though it is so familiar to you-

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

19And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16:21)

As Dr MacArthur preached, we will not bow. In addition, not only will we not to bow, but we will stand.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:13)

Just as the martyred Christians did on October 1. Stand and declare … for Jesus. Be ready to die answering that one simple question. Are you a Christian? The new martyrs’ light has not been extinguished, but only burns brighter as this world’s spirit of the age darkens. For the Light has come.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. (Luke 9:24)
Posted in coptic, copts, martyr, orthodox

Copts are not Christians

By Elizabeth Prata

140409_isis
Source

What the terror group ISIS is doing is undoubtedly evil. No person, village, or region should have to suffer the tortures and terrors perpetrated upon them like the Islamic ISIS maniacs have done. I want to say, and this will likely be unpopular, but the 21 Egyptian Coptics that were beheaded recently were not Christian. Copts are not Christian. They are not martyrs for the faith, they will not be resurrected to a glorified body in heaven, and Revelation 20:4 does not apply to them.

Copts have popes, believe verbal confession to priests is necessary for the forgiveness of sins, worship icons and idols, are highly sacramental and ritualistic, pray to dead “saints” asking for their intercession of the living, believe in apostolic succession (from John Mark), have a works based theology of salvation, and more. Orthodox Coptics are a split-off from Roman Catholicism. Again, Coptics are not Christians.

There is an outline of what Copts believe here.

What happened to the 21 Egyptian men on the beach is horrific, but please stand on the Gospel and remember that Copts are an unreached people group needing evangelism, not veneration as brother martyrs.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further Reading

Coptic Christians Not Christians, Evangelical Leaders Need reminding

Coptic beliefs from Encyclopedia Coptica

 

Posted in encouragement, martyr, missionary, phil masters, stan dale

Sunday Missionary Moment: 20th century Martyrs Phil Masters and Stan Dale, a story of the Yali and Kimyals

With the support of Dutch Christians, in 1855 two German-born missionaries, Carl Wilhelm Ottow and Johann Gottlob Geissler sailed for the forbidding lands of Dutch New Guinea.

After both the Dutch Indies government and the Sultan of Tidore had given permission, Ottow and Geissler left their schooner Ternate in January 1855. It was there they reportedly fell on their knees to pray and called out: “Im Namen Gottes betreten wir dieses Land” (“In God’s name do we set foot on this land”); after that they went across to the mainland to look at another site, then returned to the ship. Early in the morning of Monday, 5 February, the Ternate anchored off Manaswari to drop them off with their belongings. To this day that date is celebrated as marking the beginning of the Protestant mission in (formerly) Dutch New Guinea. (source)

One hundred years later, missionary work was still going apace in the DNG islands. Yet there were still peoples who had not even been contacted, who had not met with the outside world at all. In 1968, in the same area but with a new name, now called Irian Jaya, Indonesia, two missionaries prepared to leave their mission base and penetrate the Snow Mountains. The Snow Mountains were home to one of the most feared tribes of the area, the Yali. This Stone Age tribe was heavily animistic, deeply superstitious, practiced human sacrifice, and they were cannibals. Very few men had met them and come out alive.

The two missionaries preparing to leave base were Phil Masters from America and Stan Dale from Australia, who had been working out of Korupoon for the previous 6 years. Though progress had been slow, the missionaries had seen some conversions from other tribesmen who had come to faith. For example, Masters’ work with the Kimyal (Kimjal) people had yielded some conversions in 1963 when several of the Kimyal chieftain’s sons had converted. Dale’s work with the Dani had led to conversions also. But not the Yali. They resisted, fiercely.

In this note Stan Dale wrote to his support personnel back in Australia, he said-

“Please continue to remember us in prayer. Unfortunately, there is not much interest where the visible results are small. We trust that something will happen in our areas that will bring glory to God, even though we may be unknown.”

The Yali were a short tribe of people, what we used to call pygmy. The Yali men grew to less that 5 feet, the women a bit shorter. Despite their diminutive stature, they were the most feared tribe in the mountains. They were savage and aggressive, cannibalistic toward other tribesmen not only during in war but sometimes hunting humans just for meat. After killing a person they would chop them, grind their bones and scatter the dust, in order to prevent the person from ‘returning’. As a result of their fearsome demeanor and ferocious acts, the mountain tribes rarely interacted with each other.

However, the language of the Gospel is universal, and while some tribes, like the Kimyal, had been somewhat receptive, Stan and Phil were determined to reach the Yali peoples too. In 1961 on a former trek where the Gospel had been preached to the Yalis along by Stan with fellow missionary Bruno de Leeuw, Stan had been shot with five arrows, and the duo retreated. Now Stan wanted to try again, this time Phil Masters would be his companion. The two men were propelled by an equally fierce conviction that the Yalis needed Jesus, even if at the expense of their own lives.

It was a grueling journey. The geography of the region was challenging, rugged, and isolating. Trekking was arduous. Though the native people would clamber through the dense jungle and trot barefoot up inclines in the rugged terrain, never slipping, the going was harder for the missionary men and their carriers from the Dani tribe. There was one friendly Yali with them.

As the group reached Yali territory, warriors came out of their huts, and menacingly waved their arrows. Undaunted, the group of missionaries and carriers continued. The Yali tribesmen with the group observed that a sign had been given that they were to be killed. The group turned around and began trekking back. When they came upon a small, level river beach with rugged mountains towering over them, the Yali let loose a volley of arrows. Stan was hit numerous times, but amazingly, he simply stood. He tore the arrows out of his body, one by one. The volley of arrows continued and still, Stan yanked them out. The Yali became fearful, knowing these men served another God. Their volley of arrows became more intense, fearing more and more the God they served and wanting the men to die so they could quickly escape the area in case there was divine retribution.

Phil was spurred on by Stan, and the two men, who supernaturally had been withstanding an incredible onslaught, finally became too weak to pull out their arrows, and they fell. Several of the carriers were killed also. The Yali chopped the men and ate them, and scattered their ground-up bones so they could not be “resurrected,” a term they had heard before when Stan had shared the Gospel in 1961.

The LeMars Daily Sentinel, September 1968:

PHIL MASTERS REPORTED MISSING ON TREK INTO INDONESIAN JUNGLE  

Phil Masters, author of the Daily Sentinel’s Missionary Dairy, is reported missing in the interior of West Irian, Indonesia. A missionary for the Regions Beyond Missionary Union, Phil and his family have spent some six years in the primitive areas of what was once the island of Dutch New Guinea. The island was taken over by Indonesia over three years ago. Mrs. Masters is the former Phyllis Wills, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Hollis Wills, Seney. It was reported by Phil’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Masters, Mapleton, were notified Monday morning by telegram that Phil is overdue from a trek into the interior. Although all the details have not been learned, it is believed Phil and another missionary went into the jungle to visit a neighboring village and haven’t been heard from since.

MRS. MASTERS DECIDES TO STAY ON ISLAND; BODIES AREN’T FOUND

Mrs. Ron Severson, LeMars, has received a news release from the Regions Beyond Missionary Union, Philadelphia, with more information about Rev. Phil Masters. The Severson family was one of the interested in LeMars area families in the work of Phil Masters. The union reported the deaths of two of its missionaries in the eastern highlands of West Irian, former Dutch New Guinea, Wednesday, Sept. 25. The date had not been reported previously. Rev. Philip Masters and Rev. Stanley Dale were killed instantly in an ambush by hostile tribes while on an evangelistic trek between the RBMU outposts of Koruppun and Ninia, the missionary union source said.

The society is one of several mission groups working in the interior of West Irian among tribes just emerging from a stone-age culture. A phenomenal response to the message of the Gospel has been witnessed among some of those warring cannibal tribes. Notably, in the Swart Valley alone, since 1960, some 8,000 of the Dani tribe have become Christians, weapons and fetishes have been discarded and literacy has become widespread.

One of the last communications received by the home office from Mr. Dale carried this significant comment—“I have a burden for these places where the way is hard. Please continue to pray for the people of the Holuk that they may break free from their fetishes and declare themselves wholly on the Lord’s side. Please continue to remember us in prayer, for we still carry some heavy burdens that are not burdens of work.”

The Lord blessedly answered the missionaries’ prayers. The various peoples of the Seng Valley in Indonesia have been released from their shackles to a ritualistic and demonic system of fear and death. They are joyously free. Though the burdens Stan and Phil (and Bruno, and the Wilsons who are still there) carried were heavy, they were temporary. The massacred missionaries are now enjoying freedom from their earthy tent of a body and dwell in glory with Christ. The day will come when the two men, shot through with arrows and ignominiously eaten, will eagerly and joyously greet their brethren the Yalis in heaven. Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can cause such warm love and dramatic transformational change.

The Lord Jesus Christ loves His people, all peoples, and He died and rose again to bring a message of light and hope to all men. He sends His Spirit to indwell men and some of those, Jesus has set them  apart for missionary work to bring the Gospel message to those who are in deepest darkness.

The Korowai people of that area did not emerge into the 20th century nor had they been contacted by any Westerner until 1974. Wikipedia: “The first documented contact by Western scientists with members of a band of western Korowai (or eastern Citak) took place on March 17–18, 1974.”

We are not talking long ago times of unreached people groups. Dutch Christian missionaries immediately began living among the Korowai and the first converts came to Christianity in the late 1990s. You see that the fields are white, the need is deep. These cannibalistic, stone age tribes are still emerging into the present day.

And before the Wilsons who live there now, there was Dale and Masters, and before that Bruno de Leeuw and before that Carl Wilhelm Ottow and Johann Gottlob Geissler…and before that Apostle Paul and before that…JESUS. No matter where one extends the unbroken line of missionaries back, it always ends, or begins, with the first missionary. He left His holy habitation of pure glory to descend to depraved man, bringing the Light and the Hope of the Gospel.

Thankfully, some tribes already have emerged into the Light. Here is a wonderful video of the Kimyal people, whom Phil had worked with, rejoicing when a small plane brought to them their first bibles in their own language. Below that, the Yali themselves commemorate the day that Bruno and Stan brought the Gospel to them in 1961, which has become their TRUE Independence Day.

The Kimyal Tribe of Papua, Indonesia celebrate the arrival of the New Testament Bible in the Kimyal language:

Youtube summary:
“On May 21, 1961, Stan Dale and Bruno de Leeuw made first contact with the Yali tribe in what is now Papua, Indonesia. In the week of May 16, 2011, the Yali held the Yubileum, or Jubilee: they celebrated fifty years since the coming of the Gospel to their tribe, and fifty years of its transformational impact on their society. This video captures some of the highlights of that celebration, as well as the Holuwon Yalis’ welcome of John and Gloria Wilson and their family, who had lived among them for twenty years:”

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Further Reading

Challies DVD review of The Yali Story

Elisabeth Elliot: Under the Shadow of the Almighty 

Lottie Moon: Missionary to China

Posted in family, marriage, martyr

Sunday Martyr Moment: Vitus killed by his own father, & the temporary nature of families

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Text from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

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We are looking at the ten primitive persecutions. Foxe developed his chronicle in chapters from the first martyr, Stephen, in chapter 1: “History of Christian Martyrs to the First General Persecutions Under Nero” and now we are nearing the end of chapter 2: “The Ten Primitive Persecutions“. This brings us up to 303AD.

Vitus of Sicily was taught the principles of Christianity by a nurse who raised him. When his pagan father, Hylas, discovered this, he tried to convert him to paganism but failed. To appease his gods for his son’s insults to their deity, he sacrificed Vitus to them on June 14, 303.

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I looked at just one man today, Vitus. I want to examine the nature of the family relationship for a moment.

The bible says, “You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death.” (Luke 21:16)

This became a sad truth for Vitus, but also a joyous one. He died for the name of Christ! And he is given the Crown of Life, also known as the Martyr’s Crown. (Revelation 2:8-11, James 1:12)

We often believe that family ties are the strongest ties we can have on earth, but it is not true. We read old secular proverbs like”Blood is thicker than water”, indicating that family ties will outlast and be stronger than any other ties. We read Mario Puzo’s book The Godfather and the indelible memory of Vito Corleone’s son Michael (another Vito from Sicily, this one fictional) saying “Fredo, you’re my older brother, and I love you. But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.”

But we know what happened there, money was thicker than blood, and poor Fredo went fishing…and then slept with the fishes.

The family is an institution Christ set up in the garden. He married Adam and Eve and told them to be fruitful and multiply. He likened the sacrificial love of a husband for his wife and family to the love Christ has for His bride. And the same with the wife. Jewish progeny was supremely important in order to perpetuate the race and to keep the tribes intact. Deuteronomy 25:5 makes provision for keeping the family name alive, in commanding the widow of one brother to marry the other in case of death, so the name will be kept going.

All of this is beautiful and true. However, the fact is that whether a person is an unsaved person or a saved person, family is not the main relationship. Unsaved people serve satan, and when push comes to shove, the unsaved person will serve satan out of hate rather than their family out of love. Vitus is but one example. The Luke 21:16 verse proves that family ties will matter little when faced with a push from satan. Here are two more examples-

They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:53)

Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death,” (Matthew 10:21)

So the unsaved serve satan above his family. Alternately, the saved person serves Jesus above his family.

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:31-35).

We should be aware that secular relationships are filled with betrayal, because they serve satan. Just look at abortion, putting babes in the fire for sacrifice to Molech. Infanticide is horrible and satanic.

Yet though Christian family relationships are modeled after Christ, and are a picture of the glory to come, they won’t last. As John Piper said in his tremendous sermon Single in Christ: A Name Better Than Sons and Daughters, when we attain heaven, there will be no marriage. We will not marry nor procreate. Our relationships will be complete. Through Christ, we will be one family. We won’t need the picture when we are face to face. Here is a snippet from Piper’s sermon, where he is outlining his main points:

  • That the family of God grows not by propagation through sexual intercourse, but by regeneration through faith in Christ;
  • That relationships in Christ are more permanent, and more precious, than relationships in families (and, of course, it is wonderful when relationships in families are also relationships in Christ; but we know that is often not the case);
  • That marriage is temporary, and finally gives way to the relationship to which it was pointing all along: Christ and the church—the way a picture is no longer needed when you see face to face;
  • That faithfulness to Christ defines the value of life; all other relationships get their final significance from this. No family relationship is ultimate; relationship to Christ is.

For poor martyred Vitus was killed by his father in the name of a satanic god, but Vitus held fast to the value of a relationship with Christ, His true Father. Vitus not only attained the crown of life, but look what else is given to Vitus, and to all of us:

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29)

You and I will have a hundred-fold mothers, and not just any mothers, perfect mothers. Perfect brothers and perfect sisters and perfect children…

While your blood ties on earth are temporary and imperfect, and even if you have experienced betrayal and heartbreak, awaiting you in heaven is the perfect family. What a blessing we can have a taste of that family life now, in the family of Christ on earth. The family of God is eternal and everlasting and forever, amen.

Posted in foxe's book of martyrs, glory, martyr

Sunday Martyr Moment: A Phyrgian city burned

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Text from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

[Phyrgia was in west-central Turkey]

A city of Phrygia, consisting entirely of Christians, was burnt, and all the inhabitants perished in the flames.

Tired with slaughter, at length, several governors of provinces represented to the imperial court, the impropriety of such conduct. Hence many were respited from execution, but, though they were not put to death, as much as possible was done to render their lives miserable, many of them having their ears cut off, their noses slit, their right eyes put out, their limbs rendered useless by dreadful dislocations, and their flesh seared in conspicuous places with red-hot irons.

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Johnnie Moore said this week in his opinion piece, “We must stand up for Middle East’s persecuted Christians
Christianity began in the East, not the West, yet today Christians in the East are enduring an all-out-assault by Islamic terrorists, while Christians in the West live their lives largely oblivious to it all. This has to change. This is no imaginary persecution; in Syria alone there have been reports of kidnappings, Christian communities intentionally displaced by militants and, worst of all, shootings and beheadings of Christians who refused to convert to Islam. In Egypt radicals have recently destroyed dozens of churches, and the once vibrant Christian population in Iraq has been decimated.

Qanta Ahmed wrote in the Jerusalem Post this week, Persecution of Christians in the Muslim world: We are what we tolerate
Syrian Christians, long protected by Syrian President Bashar Assad, bear the ultimate price at the hands of rebel Islamists. Egyptian Islamist have destroyed 43 Orthodox churches and attacked 207 churches in the past year alone. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, where there is no Arab Spring, where democracy is mature, Christian persecution is as integral to daily Pakistani life as the weather. In 2013 alone, Pakistan witnessed the razing of 178 homes in Christian residential area Joseph Colony in Lahore and the execution of 82 Christians at worship at Peshawar’s historic All Saints Church, leaving another 200 congregants wounded.

Persecution is not new. “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (2 Timothy 3:12). Nor are the ways people are wounded, tortured, or killed new. Evil men are and always have been evil. This is what hostility to the Gospel looks like. Do not be surprised that such wickedness against holy Jesus and His children exists. (1 John 3:13). Without Christ there is no peace, but where there is Christianity, Christians, and the Spirit, there will be hostility against the testimony of Jesus. They tried to kill Jesus several times before they actually did.

And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. (Luke 4:29).

The fact that persecution has always existed doesn’t make reports like these from JPost or FoxNews any easier to read. But there is an additional element to the persecution story. Though persecution has always existed, it is prophesied to become worse and worse as the ages progress.

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:12-13).

This persecution will find it ultimate, completely saturated expression in the Tribulation, when satan persecutes the Jews and then the Christians:

Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 12:17).

Even though persecution is an ugly thing, we can take heart from it. First, we know that there are strong Christians in the world willing to suffer and die for the spotless name of Jesus. We know that as persecution becomes worse and worse, that the word of God is perfect in its certainty. We also know that as it increases, the time of His appearing draws closer. We can also  imagine the homecoming of the martyred Christians in Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan… are receiving in heaven.

The topic of martyrdom is a difficult one but it has its joys too.

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal“. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Whether death comes from sickness, age or by another man’s hand, a life lived for the Lord has everlasting value and glory unto Jesus.

Posted in foxe's book of martyrs, martyr

Sunday Martyr Moment: "Into the kiln!" and the end of Emperor Valerian

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Text from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

We left off with the martyrdom of Cyprian. Here we conclude the eighth persecution under Emperor Valerian:

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At Utica, a most terrible tragedy was exhibited: three hundred Christians were, by the orders of the proconsul, placed round a burning limekiln. A pan of coals and incense being prepared, they were commanded either to sacrifice to Jupiter, or to be thrown into the kiln. Unanimously refusing, they bravely jumped into the pit, and were immediately suffocated.

Fructuosus, bishop of Tarragon, in Spain, and his two deacons, Augurius and Eulogius, were burnt for being Christians.

Alexander, Malchus, and Priscus, three Christians of Palestine, with a woman of the same place, voluntarily accused themselves of being Christians; on which account they were sentenced to be devoured by tigers, which sentence was executed accordingly.

Maxima, Donatilla, and Secunda, three virgins of Tuburga, had gall and vinegar given them to drink, were then severely scourged, tormented on a gibbet, rubbed with lime, scorched on a gridiron, worried by wild beasts, and at length beheaded.

It is here proper to take notice of the singular but miserable fate of the emperor Valerian, who had so long and so terribly persecuted the Christians. This tyrant, by a stratagem, was taken prisoner by Sapor, emperor of Persia, who carried him into his own country, and there treated him with the most unexampled indignity, making him kneel down as the meanest slave, and treading upon him as a footstool when he mounted his horse. After having kept him for the space of seven years in this abject state of slavery, he caused his eyes to be put out, though he was then eighty-three years of age. This not satiating his desire of revenge, he soon after ordered his body to be flayed alive, and rubbed with salt, under which torments he expired; and thus fell one of the most tyrannical emperors of Rome, and one of the greatest persecutors of the Christians.

A.D. 260, Gallienus, the son of Valerian, succeeded him, and during his reign (a few martyrs excepted) the Church enjoyed peace for some years.

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Just as I honor the Christian martyrs for exalting Jesus with their lives, it gives me no pleasure to see the fate of those who persecuted them. I am gripped with a heavy despair for all those who die while in their sins, forever destined to a hell of fire and torment. The torments they inflicted upon the martyrs were but a moment of trouble compared to an eternity in glory. (2 Corinthians 4:17). The torments that will be inflicted upon the tormentors will be a forever punishment for dishonoring the Holy Lord by rejecting His Gospel. (2 Thess. 1:9).

I wish that they had repented. I wish that they had been affected with the truth of the Gospel and the commitment of the martyrs to the name of Jesus Christ. Yet their stubbornness and their suppression of the truth went deep, and many, many tormenters themselves rejected the truth that was being proclaimed in front of them with lives and lips. They themselves unknowingly sealed their own fate even as they were inflicting those passing torments onto the martyrs.

The Lord is holy and just. Believe on His name and be saved.