Dying for Your Faith

By Curtis Rittenour
Posted June 25, 2014

Would you be willing to die for your belief in Jesus?

The nation of Sudan is an extremely difficult place to be a Christian. On the Open Doors' World Watch List of nations in which Christians are targeted for their faith, this poverty-stricken country is ranked number 11. It labels Sudan as a place of “extreme persecution.” Islamic extremists there are responsible for killings, raids, forced marriages, arrests, and deportations. [1]

Meriam Ibrahim is a Sudanese Christian and new mother who was arrested on charges of apostatizing. While she was in prison awaiting trial last month, she gave birth to a girl. Two weeks later, she was formally sentenced to 100 lashes and death by hanging. Even though the court threatened her in an attempt to get her to renounce her faith, she refused and held firm to her belief in Christ.

Yet through the work of lawyers and heavy international pressure, and God's divine grace, the 27-year-old mother was eventually released from the death sentence.

Still, conservative estimates of Christian martyrs, those who die in direct relation to their witness, begin at over 1,000 per month and climb to as many as 10,000 per month. [2] Much of the debate on numbers of people who die as Christians centers on the definition of what it means to be a martyr.

Most all of these Christian organizations that track the numbers of martyrs agree on one thing: Dying for one’s faith in Christ is on the increase. [3] Jesus warned His followers what was to come. “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:21, 22).

The significant loss of religious freedom before Christ’s second coming will eventually reach a point where true followers of Jesus will not be able to “buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast” (Revelation 13:17). Those who will not cooperate with this beast power will be threatened with death (v. 15).

Sometimes we look with awe at people who lay down their lives as martyrs for the name of Jesus, yet we are unwilling to sacrifice ourselves in small ways every single day. Do we dare to witness for Jesus at the supermarket? Will we purchase and send Christian literature to a wandering adult child? Do we speak up when our neighbor asks, “You don’t believe in the rapture? What do you believe?”

We might be asked to lay down our very lives for Christ someday. But until then, let’s stand as witnesses for Jesus no matter where we go.

News reports are now saying that Meriam Ibrahim has been detained once again by the Sudanese government, this time for "fraud." It seems her family's ordeal is yet ongoing; please continue to pray for this situation to be quickly resolved.

Curtis Rittenour
Curtis J. Rittenour is the senior writer at Amazing Facts International. He pastored for 25 years and has authored books, magazine articles, blogs, and seminars.
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