Through His death on the cross, Jesus made the ultimate, perfect sacrifice for sin. He gave up His life willingly. Throughout Church history men, women and children have been killed because, when threatened with death, they chose to give up their lives rather than deny Jesus who gave His life for them.
Islamic State (IS) in Libya released a video in October 2015 showing a masked militant beheading Mohamed Al-Ghaid, a Christian man from South Sudan. He was forced to kneel and then he was beheaded. His killer said the murder avenged “injustice” against Muslims in Christian-majority South Sudan.
Today, Christians are killed for Jesus’ sa in a number of contexts. Jihadists seek to please Allah by murdering believers, repressive regimes such as that of North Korea seek to eradicate Christian communities and elsewhere converts to Christianity from other religions are at particular risk of being killed, often by their own relatives.
But even in the face of great trials, the Church grows. By God’s grace, the spilt blood of the martyrs leads to Church growth. Their faith and courage can change the hearts oftheir persecutors and encourage other Christians to stand firm.
Barnabas is supporting the widows and dependants of 21 Egyptian martyrs paraded on a beach and beheaded in Libya in 2015, and similar support is given to the families of many other martyrs.
Give thanks to God for the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus and for His gift of eternal life to all who believe. Praise Him for the faithfulness of believers who have persevered in faith in the face of mortal danger and did not cling to life in the face of death (Revelation 12:11). Pray that their sacrifice will inspire their brothers and sisters to endure whatever sufferings befall them and will also convince their persecutors of the truth and power of the Gospel. Pray too that their bereaved families and churches will not grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13) but be comforted by the knowledge that their loved ones died for Christ.