“Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection” (Heb 11:35)
Today (Jan. 22) is a black day in Indian history. The Australian medical missionary Mr. Graham Staines (1941-1999) and his two sons were burnt alive in the tribal State of Orissa, on this day in 1999. Though the killing of the Staines has a left stain on Indian soil, they are grains of wheat which are fallen on the ground to give plentiful harvest. Apostle Thomas was martyred in Chennai. The Church in India is strongest in this city!
Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) penned, “Divine presence made the martyrs as willing to die as to dine!” God in answer to the prayer of the Church sent an angel into the prison chamber to release Peter. What our prayers can do for the persecuted at critical hours and perilous situations cannot be underestimated. When challenged before martyrdom, Bishop Polycarp (70-160) replied, “Eightysix years I’ve served Christ and He never did me any injury. How then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour?”
Henry Vos shamed his persecutors with the words, “If I had twin heads, they should all be off for Christ!” Tahir Iqbal, a muslim convert, before he died in a Pakistani prison in 1993, declared, “I’ll kiss the rope, but I’ll never deny my faith!” Every Christian must read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. The martyrs shook the powers of darkness with the irresistible power of weakness. How much the persecuted need our prayers!
It’s repeatedly observed in mission fields that the malignant opponents get powerfully converted and become mighty exponents of the Bible. This is what our prayers for the persecutors do. Stephen’s prayer deeply impacted the young man Saul. When this persecutor of Christians became a preacher of the gospel, people said in amazement, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this Name in Jerusalem?” (Acts 9:21; 22:19,20). The last prayer of William Tyndale (1494-1536), the Reformer and Bible Translator, before he was strangled and burnt, was, “Lord, open the eyes of the King of England!” The Lord answered his prayer, and the King authorized a Bible translation. Who has not heard of the King James Version?
Any attack on the Church must primarily be discerned as the direct activity of wicked spirits. Spiritual powers cannot be combated by numerical or physical strength. *
Fasting prayers in secret are more effective than protest fasts in public.* Restudying of the Book of Acts will keep us in the right perspective.
Rev. Dr. Jerry Daniel