Every time I read the end of Acts 7, I’m deeply moved by the radical and bold faith of Stephen. He was the first martyr.
Beaten. Dragged. Stoned.
With his final breath, he echoed the words of his Savior, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!”
Stephen was not only willing to die for his faith in Jesus, he was willing to love his accusers until the very end. He loved God. He loved people.
I wonder how the men who stoned Stephen felt when it was all said and done. Were they relieved since they had finally silenced the man who was a source of contention to their religion? Was there remorse for their quick haste to rid the world of this “nuisance?” Did any of them experience regret later as the images of a dying man haunted them through the night?
We can only wonder.
Who knows? Maybe one of those accusers eventually professed Jesus as Lord, and Stephen was there welcoming him into heaven! (I’m purely speculating here.)
Here’s what I am sure of: Your life or your death can be used by God to tell others about Jesus. For Christians, death is never the end of our earthly witness. God can and will continue to use our story to draw others to himself. That’s why it’s so important that we, as Christians, remain committed to Christ even in the face of persecution.Your life or your death can be used by God to tell others about Jesus. Click To Tweet
That doesn’t mean we have to go looking for persecution. But it does mean we should resolve to remain faithful in all circumstances. Paul resolved it this way, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)
While we may not be experiencing extreme persecution in the US, globally Christians are suffering for their faith more than any other time in history. Through oppression, imprisonment, discrimination and violent attacks, millions of believers are facing persecution–just because they believe in Jesus.
What can you do?
Voice of the Martyrs produces a free monthly magazine with real-life stories of persecution that is happening to our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. If you want to make a difference, you need to be informed!
Prayer is the front-line battleground when engaging in spiritual warfare. But don’t just pray generically. iCommitToPray.com is a great resource where you will find specific ways you can pray for people around the world.
Imagine if you were imprisoned for your faith, and one day you received a letter from a Christian (whom you’ve never met) simply to encourage you to stand strong. How encouraging that would be! You can do just that for someone around the world by using Prisoner Alert.
God may be leading you to stand in the gap as an advocate for religious freedom at home and abroad. At Open Doors USA, you can take action by writing letters, signing petitions, or sending emails to your government leaders.
Serve persecuted Christians in hostile areas and restricted nations and be a voice for them among Christians in the U.S. Your financial gift addresses all ministry needs, including the immediate needs of our persecuted brothers and sisters, while calling Christians in the U.S. into closer fellowship with them and to a deeper commitment to Christ. Donate now at Persecution.com
(Persecution.com is a ministry of Voice of the Martyrs and is not affiliated with Antioch Georgetown Church. We recognize them as a trusted resource when considering making financial contributions to support persecuted Christians.)