It’s difficult to imagine a world where one loses his life for his faith. But we know it exists. And we are reminded of it with headlines that feel too medieval to be true. Of course that world and the everyday world of the average American Christian don’t often rub up against one another. The irony of this was not lost on me as I drove my son home from gymnastics and glanced at this book, Bearing Witness, perched on a stack of Sunday School papers and fast food wrappers on the passenger seat of my mini-van.
I mean how can we possibly understand such sacrifice in a culture so intent on putting leisure, pleasure and personal happiness above everything? So I opened the first pages of this book, not knowing what sort of read it would be. Or if it would feel too foreign or frightening.
Bearing Witness: Stories of Martyrdom and Costly Discipleship presents interesting stories that certainly offer perspective on our first-world church problems. And I think it helps so much to remember there are Christians who have suffered throughout history.
I feel it is also important to note that Bearing Witness is a collaboration of stories about Anabaptists, so non-violence is a central theme. I had some rather strong reactions to certain views taken by the author(s) or by the individuals spotlighted, which may vary, of course, from reader to reader. But if you are Anabaptist, you may find this book particularly inspiring!
On the first page of each chapter, a sketch of a globe presents you with the setting for each story. It is always eye-opening to see how many tyrannical governments and people have existed over the years and across the world. It was a small visual reminder to appreciate the freedom to worship I can so often take for granted in my own country.
This book reminded me people still can and do suffer for believing and preaching the Gospel. And, really, our compassion should extend to all those who suffer for their beliefs as we are called to both awareness and action on their behalf. We are also called to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth, no matter the cause. ALWAYS easier said than done.
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