There is but one king that I know. It is he whom I love and worship. If I were to be killed a thousand times for my loyalty to him, I would still be his servant. Christ is on my lips, Christ is in my heart; no amount of suffering will take him from me.–Genesius of Rome These are more than lofty words. They are a reflection of ultimate faith spoken by a person staring death in the face. Like a flaming torch, they illuminate for us the reality the martyrs saw, the truth that gripped their hearts and lifted their eyes to heaven in the face of fire, sword, and executioner’s axe.
Biographies of sixty Christians who died for their faith, from Stephen, the church’s first martyr, to Bahram Dehqani-Tafti of Iran, who was shot to death in 1981. In today’s age of uncertainty, spiritual pluralism, and self-indulgence, the words of the martyrs remind us of the worthiness of Jesus and the costliness of the gospel. They humble us with their commitment. They fortify our faith with their honesty and certitude. And they direct our vision toward eternal realities that far outshine anything this world has to offer.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but I wanted to read something different, and this is really different for me. It’s a short book, so I should have assumed there wasn’t going to be a lot of detail in the stories, but I was still a bit disappointed that each snippet was so short — I would have enjoyed reading more about each person.
I think it was hard for me to connect with the book because it’s so hard to imagine what these people suffered. Growing up in 20th/21st century America, I can’t fathom the persecution these people suffered, especially when you look at their prayers for the people who persecuted them. I think I’m going to need to revisit this book in the future and really focus on each prayer.
Amazing examples of the kind of love and forgiveness that’s possible when people truly commit to God.