Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Bearing Witness - a book review
I was excited to read this book because I love studying about Christian missionaries all over the world, but especially about those who've taken their faith to the extreme and have become martyrs for their faith. As I began the book, the first sentence of the introduction caught my eye... "Following Jesus can be dangerous." What a profound statement for those who follow after Christ, but also one bearing complete truth. Even Jesus, in the Bible, says "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." Matthew 16:24-25. And as I began to read the first few pages of the book, I was reminded why it's important for us to remember those who've suffered for Christ.
The book answers the question, "So, why do we in North American still need to tell martyr stories today" with the following answer: "First, in the context of the extensive religious freedoms that North American believers now enjoy, the witness of the martyrs provides a useful reminder that following Jesus can still exact a cost. Furthermore, we should continue to tell stories of courageous witness because persecution is not just an ancient story but a contemporary reality. Martyr stories prompt us to reexamine our own faith. Martyr stories unite the church. Remembering the martyrs is a way of extending the community of faith backward in time, reminding each congregation that it is not alone in the journey, but is joined in fellowship with faithful Christians throughout the history of the church."
Most of us know the stories of famous Christian martyrs like Stephen and Peter, disciples of Jesus, and even those of later martyrs like William Tyndale and John Wycliffe, but there are so many more! All over the world, there have been those who've stood firm in their beliefs and have taken their faith with them to their death. They've fought the good fight and they've received their crown of glory.
Bearing Witness, shares the stories of 36 martyrs from Biblical times until the present. Their stories span the globe and include countries like Turkey, Germany, Austria, The Virgin Islands, The United States, Korea, and Russia. These various martyrs suffered terrible deaths from being burned alive to being torn apart by animals, but one thing remains constant in all of their cases, their love for Jesus Christ.
It is my belief that the book, Bearing Witness, should be required reading for all Christian high school and college students. By keeping the stories alive and fresh, we can impact generations and help them realize these valiant people did not die in vain. It's important for us to remember the great cost behind our Christian beliefs. Many gave their lives so we could have the religious freedoms we experience today.
I would like to thank Plough Publishing for giving me an opportunity to review this outstanding book. I would recommend it highly to anyone wanting to learn more about the history of Christianity and about those who died for their faith. If you'd like to purchase your own copy of this amazing book, you can order it here.