Is there still martyrdom today for Christians?

20 03 2011

In meeting with a dear friend they were sharing with me “how difficult” it is to be a Christian today. They finished the story with a remark of “when will this martyrdom stop?”

That struck me! We as westerners in Christian based societies talking about our minor challenges and difficulties as martyrdom! What a cheek was my first thought! So, is there still martyrdom today or is it in our imagination? To answer this I would think we must first define what is martyrdom. To be a martyr is TO DIE…for your belief in Jesus! That is how basic it is. As you can tell my friend has not died as he was speaking to me (could he have been raised from the dead…don’t think so!). So if death is the first condition what is the second? It is the reason you have been put to death!

A good friend and the worship leader of our church died tragically in Yemen while on a mission trip! She believed in Jesus without doubt and loved Him dearly. She was serving Him! The vehicle they were driving in overturned because of the desert sand on the highway and she died in the accident. Is she a martyr as she died while serving Jesus in a land known for the antagonism towards Christians?

I am sure you know better than think this is martyrdom or even close to martyrdom. Martyrdom is when your death is directly related to your belief or the cause of your belief. Let’s make it easy…yes there is still martyrdom where believers in Jesus Christ lose their lives simply because they believe in Him and it is known that they believe. This martyrdom happens in many countries and even in those countries with supposed to be open religious systems like Egypt. They profess to be tolerant of Christians but we have many records of not only the open hostility towards Christians but the loss of life of believers simply because they do believe.

It is easier to see in countries openly hostile to Christians, but can also be confusing when you look at life through a political viewfinder. Is it political belief that the fundamentalist Moslem kills Christians or does he kill him because he is the dreaded “infidel”? I confess it is difficult because my own dealings with Muslims have shown me that there is not necessarily a hate towards Christian believers but there is a definite hate toward the historic background of the Crusaders (remember this is more than 800 years ago…and was politically motivated and not even driven through any Christian belief, but used by those in power as Christian function. Bishops bought their church office and tax was collected by the church for the landed gentry)   

It struck me when travelling in Moslem countries with ancient history how they still view ancient historic figures. In Uzbekistan there is a reverence towards Timur, Alexander the Great, Marco Polo and other persons who have died centuries ago.  It is not that they still revere them but the level of reverence that astounds. It is as though they are still alive and demanding of absolute respect. It is therefore little wonder that the thought of the Crusades still hold immense hurt!

The reason I have deviated from the thought about Christian martyrdom is that we need to consider if our original assumption is true concerning being killed because of your belief, then in whose mind is that belief.

I wonder if there are not two thoughts concerning this belief and that is that the martyr believes in Jesus and that the persecution is because of this, but the one doing the martyrdom is confused in exactly why they are killing! Could it be because of the historic hurt and anger still lingering because of Crusades? Could it be because of the assumed insult that as a Believer you consider your view superior to that of a Muslim or is there a range of reasons of which only a segment could simply be because you believe in Jesus Christ because the Muslim also believes in Him as an honoured prophet!

My conclusion is that the killing of Christians is not because of who they believe in, but because of what the one doing the killing believes in! It is more fear and politics than love and respect for Allah or the belief in Islam. It seems to be historic based and that hurt and pain is still calling our today.




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