Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Books about Christian Martyrs and Missionaries

                                                       I had a rather acrimonious dialogue on a Amazon.com review post with another poster. In a nutshell he declared that all Christians were evil. They did more to persecute Jews than Muslims, The crusades, Hitler and Stalin were Christian et cetera, et cetera et cetera... Needless to say I countered every argument he made. We went back and forth for quite a while until I finally asked him why he was so angry at Christians. Was he Jewish? I have the greatest respect and love for Jews. Was he Muslim? I feel the same way towards Muslims. I finally asked him, “Where in the world are Christians persecuting Jews today?” That seems to have effectively ended our conversation because so far he hasn't answered back. (For the actual postings look for Pedric@aol.com's review of the book “The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam”. I comment on the initial review and then P. Bojsen and I start getting into it under “replies to post”. I post under the name Sharsharbear.)

                                                  Fox's Book of Martyrs: A History of the Lives, Sufferings, and Deaths of the Early Christian and Protestant Martyrs. (mobi)


Today there are an increasing number of people in this country as well as other western countries who insist that Christians are persecuting non Christians everywhere and especially in America. I listened to a Canadian talk show host on you tube who was attacking, uh, I mean, “interviewing” Ayaan Hirsi Ali about her book “Infidel”. He was claiming that Christians had wormed their way up into the American government in order to persecute anyone who didn't believe as they did.

These kind of accusations have inspired me to review some books that tell a different story. The first:


Foxe Voices of the Martyrs 33 AD to Today.      

This is an updated version of the 16th century book by John Foxe. In the forward of this book the editor writes:

John Foxe wanted the church to know the stories of those who had gone before- those who stood firmly for their Savior even to the painful point of death. Foxe wanted the church to be encouraged by their testimonies, that even in the lowest moments of torture and tribulation, they had found Christ worthy of their devotion and love. He wanted Christians to be blessed and encouraged by the testimonies of those who had gone before, who now formed part of the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1,2) in the stadium of history.

The book starts with the stoning of St. Stephen, which is recorded in the Bible. It then recounts the fates of all the disciples, according to church tradition, and then works its way up to the Middle Ages, the Spanish Inquisition, the martyrdom of Protestants at the hands of Catholic rulers, as well as the martyrdom of Catholics at the hands of despots. It gives an eye-opening and informative account of how both Catholics and Protestants bravely traveled to unknown lands to witness to cultures and peoples steeped in paganism. Though many died for this cause we see the fruits today as Christians in Asia and Africa put us western Christians to shame with their zeal, devotion and willingness to be martyred in their turn. The book ends with accounts of what is happening to Christians in different countries around the world today. It gives a record of what the official policy is of individual countries, mainly in third world nations, and how Christians (natives and missionaries) are treated there. It also gives horrifying but inspiring accounts of those willing to become a part of “that great cloud of witnesses.” To coin a phrase, this book is a must read for every Christian on the planet.

This leads me to another conversation I had with a friend years ago. She professed to embrace all religions and then immediately proceeded to explain to me why it was immoral of Christians to send missionaries to the Indian tribes in South America because embracing the Christian faith corrupted their “original” and therefore “pure and natural” culture.

I recommend the book, End of the Spear and documentary, Beyond the Gates of Splendor to her and others who agree with her. These are a thought-provoking account of Jim Elliot and other missionaries who tried to “proselytize” (some people think that's a bad word, but it's what Jesus told his followers to do) the Auca Indians. They were killed by the Indians for it. The most powerful event in this account for me was when the murderers of the missionaries later became Christians and then baptized the children of the missionaries in the same river that they had killed the fathers. As for a pure and natural religion, one of the Aucas puts it best himself when he says that if it were not for the interference of the missionaries bringing them to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ they probably wouldn't even exist anymore because they would have killed themselves off with all their inter tribal fighting.


                                                    Bruchko And Motilone Miracle
Another lesser known but just as powerful book is Bruchko. This is the story of a nineteen year old boy who, completely on his own and with the curses of his own family, flew to south America, wandered through the rain forests of Venezuela until he found the dreaded Motilone Indians who were so fierce and murderous that the other Indian tribes lived in fear of them. This remarkable story recounts how, in spite of no money, no foreign language skills, developing malaria, almost starving if the wounds from spears didn't get him first, plus being held captive for ten months by terrorist revolutionary groups, Bruce Olson (named Bruchko by the Motilones) lead a group of dangerous, primitive tribes to come to know about the love of Jesus Christ and salvation. Not only that, but after the Motilones became Christians, they became sophisticated. In present day Venezuela they have legal representatives who were educated at Universities founded by the Motilones, educating Motilones, including training Motilones to be lawyers. To me this is living evidence how faith in Christ is responsible for the sophistication of societies and the turn to atheism and paganism causes a society to devolve downward to primitivism. For more information go to Bruce Olsen's web site: http://www.bruceolson.com/


martha68 said...

enjoyed browsing your blog today as i head to the relevant blogging conf. in PA. look forward to reading more in the future:)

Rachel said...

Another great book that I have enjoyed reading over and over again is "Jesus Freaks" by DCTalk (there is more than one book under this title and they are all amazing). Most of the stories are from modern times. It shows just the opposite of what many are saying...Christians being persecuted all over the world for their beliefs. I grew up Jewish and became a believer in Christ as a teenager and I honestly was never attacked (personally or spiritually) until I became a Christian. Life gets harder because we are a threat to the enemy's evil plans...he likes to find ways to attack God's faithful.

Sharon Wilfong said...

To Martha: Thanks for visiting. The conference in PA sounds interesting. I'd like to hear about it when you return.
To Rachel: Thanks for the book recommendation. I'll get it and review it. I'd love to hear your personal story- how you came to know Jesus Christ. Two books I'm going to review in the near future are about Jewish Cutlure and Traditions. It's written by Steve Herzig, who grew up an Orthodox Jew and later accepted Jesus as his Messiah. To both of you: Take care and God bless!

John and Deb Barker said...

New to your blog! Enjoyed! Thank you!

Sharon Wilfong said...

Thanks for visiting. I enjoyed your blog as well!

LindyLouMac said...

This is my first time here, so having a browse around. I am here as you have become my latest folloer on BlogFrog thanks. I think you may find posts to interest you both on News From Italy and my book Review blog, hope to see you there. Have a great weekend.

laughwithusblog said...

I watched the End of the Spear Documentary, but I don't think I ever watched the movie.

Thank you so much for the encouragement you left on my blog today. You made my day! :)

MMAR said...

Hello, I am now following your blog from Blog Frog! I love to read... I have my own little library : )! My husband is always asking why I need so many books!! I look forward to your post and reviews.

Sharon Wilfong said...

Dear Melissa, I just visited your blog. Very nice; I plan to visit often!