On one occasion, following unspeakable sufferings in a filthy prison, missionary Adoniram Judson appeared before the king of Burma and asked permission to go to a certain city to preach.
“I am willing for a dozen preachers to go, but not you,” was the king’s answer. “Not with those hands! My people are not such fools as to take notice of your preaching, but they will take notice of those scarred hands.”
Once of the most inspiring examples of courage in the history of the church was the martyrdom of Polycarp, who was burned at the stake for his faith. The aged Polycarp had been arrested by the Roman authorities and brought to the arena for execution in front of the cheering crowd. The proconsul pressed him hard and said, “Swear, and I will release you. Revile Christ.” Polycarp replied, “Eighty and six years have I served him, and he never did me wrong; and how can I now blaspheme my King that has saved me?”— Cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History
During the Watergate scandal, some people regarded it as a compliment to be on Nixon’s “enemies list.” They took it as a credit to them that people in the administration opposed them.
In the same way, if you have enemies because of your righteousness, it will be a credit to you. You should be glad that you have that kind of enemies, and that they are persecuting you, because it means that you are not doing what they do and instead are doing what unrighteous men hate. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
The way of this world is to praise dead saints and persecute living ones. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
Archaeologists digging in the remains of a school for imperial pages in Rome found a picture dating from the third century. It shows a boy standing, his hand raised, worshiping a figure on a cross, a figure that looks like a man with the head of an ass. Scrawled in the writing of a young person are the words, "Alexamenos worships his God." Nearby in a second inscription: "Alexamenos is faithful." Apparently, a young man who was a Christian was being mocked by his schoolmates for his faithful witness. But he was not ashamed; he was faithful.
Lieghton Ford, Good News is for Sharing, 1977, David C. Cook Publishing Co., p. 78.
Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star,
Hast thou no scar?
Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers, spend,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned:
Hast thou no wound?
No wound, no scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And, pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole: can he have followed far
Who has no wounds nor scar?
When the emperor Valens threatened Eusebuis with confiscation of all his goods, torture, banishment, or even death, the courageous Christian replied, "He needs not fear confiscation, who has nothing to lose; nor banishment, to whom heaven is his country; nor torments, when his body can be destroyed at one blow; nor death, which is the only way to set him at liberty from sin and sorrow."
During China's Boxer Rebellion of 1900, insurgents captured a mission station, blocked all the gates but one, and in front of that one gate placed a cross flat on the ground. Then the word was passed to those inside that any who trampled the cross underfoot would be permitted their freedom and life, but that any refusing would be shot. Terribly frightened, the first seven students trampled the cross under their feet and were allowed to go free. But the eighth student, a young girl, refused to commit the sacrilegious act. Kneeling beside the cross in prayer for strength, she arose and moved carefully around the cross, and went out to face the firing squad. Strengthened by her example, every one of the remaining ninety-two students followed her to the firing squad.
Today in the Word, February, 1989, p. 17.
In ancient Rome, crowds by the tens of thousands would gather in the Colosseum to watch as Christians were torn apart by wild animals. Paul Rader, commenting on his visit to this famous landmark, said, "I stood uncovered to the heavens above, where He sits for whom they gladly died, and asked myself, 'Would I, could I, die for Him tonight to get this gospel to the ends of the earth?'" Rader continued, "I prayed most fervently in that Roman arena for the spirit of a martyr, and for the working of the Holy Spirit in my heart, as He worked in Paul's heart when He brought him on his handcuffed way to Rome." Those early Christians "lived on the threshold of heaven, within a heartbeat of home, no possessions to hold them back."
Our Daily Bread.