Monday, November 26, 2012

In mailboxes this week!

Look for the December issue of The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter in your mailbox this week!

In this month's edition:
  • Year-in-review 2012: In this month’s issue, please reflect with us on the situations that have prompted prayer, the projects in which we were privileged to take part, and the ongoing challenges and opportunities for Canadian Christians to glorify God by serving His persecuted Church.
  • Holding the ropes in the Communist world: Discover how Canadian Christians have joined VOM this year to encourage believers, spread the Good News, honour sacrifice, and remember families in countries like China, Eritrea, Colombia, and Vietnam. 
  • Holding the ropes in the Hindu and Buddhist worlds: This year, VOM has come alongside our persecuted family in Sri Lanka and India by providing help to children and by renewing communities through skills training and microloans. Please join us in supporting these ongoing projects in the year ahead!
  • Holding the ropes in the Muslim world: Christians face much opposition for their faith in countries like Iran, Sudan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Learn how VOM is working with our brothers and sisters in Muslim countries to provide refuge, rebuild lives, share God’s love, and secure a hopeful future for young believers.
  • Who held the ropes this year? Christians just like you. A growing volunteer network, hundreds of speaking events, conferences, letter writing campaigns, and more. Christians across Canada have been using their time and talents in wonderful ways in 2012 to bless our persecuted family. Find out how you can join them in 2013!
The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter is the flagship publication of The Voice of the Martyrs in Canada. Published monthly, it is available free of charge to anyone in Canada who requests it. You can subscribe online here.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Extreme Outlook

Romania: Florea

“Our Lord commanded us to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy,” Florea calmly told the prison guards. “I cannot work on this day.”

The Romanian prisoners were forced to labour every day, but each Sabbath Florea refused. For his refusal, the guards routinely beat him so bad he lost the use of his arms and legs. He could only move his head.

Because he could no longer labour, Florea was forced to sit in his cell all day long. He had to rely on other prisoners to feed him. In spite of his situation, Florea was not downcast.

When other prisoners would complain about their situation, Florea would encourage them. “If the outlook is bad,” he would say, “try the ‘uplook.’ When Stephen was stoned, he looked up and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. This comforted Stephen’s heart, and it will comfort yours too.” He encouraged his fellow prisoners not to “look out” to their circumstances but to “look up” at Jesus.

One of Florea’s fellow prisoners was Richard Wurmbrand, who was released from the prison and found Florea’s nine-year-old son. He told him what a blessing his father had been in prison.

The boy smiled and replied, “I would like to become a sufferer and encourager for Christ as my father has been.”

A Christian is not privileged with a certain set of circumstances. Nice home. Perfect family. Good health. No, a Christian is a person with a certain attitude toward any and all circumstances. A person’s attitude makes the difference, regardless of circumstances. A heavenly attitude focuses on God’s presence amid trials. Fixating on our hardships distracts us from a heavenly outlook. We feel burdened. Depressed. Hopeless. In contrast, a godly outlook on our troubles brings confidence that God is at work. We relax in God’s presence, waiting to see how he will work out our concerns. Are you undergoing a trial right now? Where are you focused? Ask God to redirect your energies so you can look beyond your troubles and feel his presence near you.

Excerpted from Extreme Devotion, a book of 365 true accounts of men and women who totally sold out for Jesus. You can order a copy of this book from our online catalogue or by contacting our office.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Story from church history: Marinus (circa AD 268)

A soldier for the emperor ... or for Christ?

Marinus was up for a promotion. With the vacant position of centurion, he seemed the right man for the job. But knowing Marinus was a Christian and thus undeserving of the promotion, another soldier complained. Besides, Marinus refused to take the pagan oath, as required by all Roman soldiers. Therefore, he had no business receiving such an honour.

A Roman judge had Marinus brought before him and asked him if he was indeed a Christian.

“Yes, I am,” he replied.

The official gave Marinus three hours to change his mind.

Word spread of Marinus’ predicament. The bishop went to see him and took him to the church.

“Which will you choose?” asked the bishop. “The book of life, where your name will be written as a soldier of the Heavenly King, or the sword, by which you serve an earthly king?”

Marinus reached out and took hold of the sacred text.

“Adhere steadfastly then to God,” said the bishop, “and He will strengthen you ....”

Marinus was brought before the official and confessed that he had made his choice: follow Jesus. Immediately, he was led away and beheaded.

What followed angered the Romans. A well-known senator named Asterius, who had great favour with the Roman emperors, was so overcome by Marinus’ martyrdom that he wrapped Marinus’ bloodied body and severed head in his cloak, carried the martyr on his soldiers, and gave him a proper burial. For this, Asterius too was beheaded.

The courage of one man’s martyrdom caused a Roman senator to lose his life. How contagious is your courage?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Extreme freedom

Moravia: Paul Glock

Paul Glock was in a predicament. He was imprisoned for his Anabaptist beliefs, and his warden had given him some freedoms on the basis that he promised not to escape. He was allowed to fetch wood, repair shoes, do odd jobs, and run errands, but he had to stay out of sight when strangers approached, so that the religious leaders would not learn of his freedom.

Paul was puzzled by his freedom. His warden, Klaus von Grafeneck, had witnessed the martyrdom of fellow Anabaptist Michael Sattler in 1527. A mere bystander, Klaus was overcome when Sattler prayed for him just before he was executed. That had been twenty-five years before, and perhaps Klaus had a soft place in his heart toward the unjustly persecuted Anabaptists.

Paul had nothing to lose. His wife and child were already dead; he had only his fellow brethren in Moracia. But Paul would not yield to the temptation to flee. If he escaped, Klaus, who had been so good to him, would be in tremendous legal trouble, and future Anabaptists imprisoned in that area would be scrutinized. Paul resolved to be a person of his word.

God later honoured Paul’s decision. In 1576, a fire broke out in the castle where he was held. He and a fellow prisoner helped put out the flames and so won their freedom before the religious leaders, who staunchly opposed Paul, could revoke it.

Martyrs’ imprisonment stories are not the stuff of Hollywood movies, where ingenious characters dig tunnels and make secret escape hatches. The plot does not hinge on how the prisoner will escape peril. In fact, like Paul Glock, martyrs did not escape, even when they had the chance to do so. Their stories are about reckoning every situation for God’s glory, regardless of their circumstances. Consider how Paul and Silas led their jailer and his family to Christ because they chose not to escape from jail. Are you preoccupied with finding a way out of your troubles? What if you are exactly where God wants you to be? Maybe God wants you to endure instead of escape.

Excerpted from Extreme Devotion, a book of 365 true accounts of men and women who totally sold out for Jesus. You can order a copy of this book from our online catalogue or by contacting our office.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Christmas specials on VOM books & DVDs

Who is on your Christmas gift list?

For the rest of this year, we are offering special discounts on the following VOM resources, making it easy to share about the persecuted Church with your family, friends, or pastor.

(Please note that these specials are available for addresses in Canada only.)

“Illegal” Hoodies
$35.00 $20.00 SALE!
Stop people in their tracks when they catch a glimpse of the words on this hoodie: “This message is illegal in 53 countries.” Wear the shirt that raises many questions with friends and strangers alike, and share with them about the persecuted Church. The front of the black hoodie also states the number of restricted nations and hostile areas. On the back, Romans 1:16 proclaims, “I am not ashamed of the gospel....” Available in adult sizes M, L, XL, and XXL.

Cross of Fellowship Necklace
$10.00 $5.00 SALE!
This beautiful coppertone cross pendant on a double-band leather necklace will serve as a constant reminder that you are a part of “the fellowship of His sufferings.” Each time you put on the Cross of Fellowship Necklace, you'll be reminded to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who suffer for their faith in Christ.

Pastor Wurmbrand’s Prison Meditations bundle
$21.00 $12.00 SALE!
Richard Wurmbrand had plenty of time to think and pray during his 14 years in communist prisons. This special bundle contains his sermons and meditations from those long years in prison. For a limited time, purchase 100 Prison Meditations, If Prison Walls Could Speak, and With God in Solitary Confinement for a special price. A wonderful addition to your own personal library or your church library.

Women of Faith bundle
$30.00 $18.00 SALE!
Madame Bilquis Sheikh of Pakistan. Galina of Ukraine. Helen of Eritrea. These women all faced incredible challenges because of their faith in Christ, yet remained steadfast in their determination to follow Him. You will be inspired by their commitment to their community and to God, the power of prayer, and the promise that God will never leave nor forsake us. Read their stories in I Dared to Call Him Father, Never Alone: Galina’s Story, and Song of the Nightingale.

Kids of Courage bundle
$44.00 $24.00 SALE!
Share with your kids, grandkids or Sunday School class about courageous Christians around the world who have stood firm in their faith. The Story of Saint Nicholas tells the true story of Nicholas of Myra, or Saint Nicholas, who suffered for Jesus Christ in the face of persecution from the government and conflict within the church. Kids will also be inspired by God’s Missionary: The Faith of Thomas, a storybook about “doubting Thomas” and his legacy in sharing the Good News to the far reaches of the known world. Young readers will be emboldened by Imprisoned for Christ, the story of Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand and their son, Mihai.

Underground Reality bundle
$40.00 $20.00 SALE!
Watch these two DVDs to travel with a team of youth from Canada, Australia and the United States to experience what life is like for Christians in Colombia and Vietnam. Watch how they learn the difficult choices believers have to make and the consequences they must face simply for following Christ. The Underground Reality series will challenge a youth’s perception of the persecuted Church and sense of what it means to follow Christ. These two DVDs are perfect teaching tools for your family, youth group or small group. Each DVD includes four episodes, which can serve as the basis of a four-week study on persecution.

Believers from a Muslim Background bundle
$16.00 $8.00 SALE!
Discover how the Lord is moving in the hearts and lives of Muslims in Iran and Egypt. In Iran: Desperate for God and Into the Den of Infidels, you will read the testimonies of believers from Sunni and Shiite Muslim backgrounds who discovered the amazing love of God and were forever changed. These books will inspire you to pray more diligently for Egypt and Iran and the people who live there.

To view our complete list of books and DVDS, please visit our online catalogue.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Writing with Soap

Xu Yonghai
Mainland China

Xu Yonghai looked around his 8-by-8 foot cell. A trained medical doctor, Yonghai was used to sanitized conditions – so what he saw was especially disgusting. There was no bathroom. Instead, there was a pipe in one corner from which water flowed continuously onto the concrete. Yonghai learned to use this pipe to wash human waste from his cell. He ate right there as well – guards slid his food under the door. He drank and washed himself with water from the pipe.

For two entire years, he never once left his tiny, filthy room!

Yonghai, a Christian in Communist China, had worked with Gao Feng to get a house church legalized. For this “crime,” he was locked up in a Beijing prison for 24 months. Yonghai spent much of this time in prayer and meditation – and writing. On the walls of his cell, Yonghai scrawled the major points for a book, God the Creator. He wrote with soap, his deep-thinking, intellectual mind tying the points of his thesis together. When the writing was finished, he spent time memorizing the words. After his release in May 1997, he put his cell-wall composition on paper. The result was a 50,000-word book!

“My cell was the last stop for prisoners sentenced to die,” Yonghai said. “At times there were as many as three other prisoners in the tiny, damp room, awaiting their date with the executioner.”

What a chance to witness! What an opportunity to introduce these men into God’s kingdom! Yonghai took advantage of it, sharing the Gospel with his temporary cell mates in their final days on earth. He reports, “These men were very open to the message of Christ.”

“My living conditions were disgusting, but after four months, the Lord helped me get used to it. God was with me, even in my darkest times, helping me endure my years in prison. Only God gave me the strength to do it.”

You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41 : 9, 10 NKJV

Excerpted from Jesus Freaks, a best-selling collection of worldwide testimonies targeting teens with the life-changing message of the persecuted Church. You can order a copy of this book from our online catalogue or by contacting our office.

Friday, November 9, 2012

VOM prayer conference tomorrow in Cambridge

Please join The Voice of the Martyrs tomorrow, November 10, 2012, for our annual prayer conference!

Scheduled speakers include:
Joseph Hovsepian: Joseph was born in 1973 in Iran. From a very young age, Joseph travelled with his father, Rev. Haik Hovsepian, to visit underground churches, developing in him a unique understanding and profound passion for persecuted believers in Iran. After his father was martyred in 1994, he was inspired to produce films that focus on spiritual messages. Two years later, Joseph moved to the United Kingdom to study film and video. In 2000, he immigrated to the United States. He later founded Hovsepian Ministries, with the mission of continuing his father's work by sharing the gospel with hundreds of thousands of Iranians through media, outreach events, and human rights advocacy.
Andre Hovsepian was born in 1984 in Iran. Andre had the chance to pursue his career in film when his family immigrated to the United States in 2000. In 2004, he joined JFA Productions and soon after started working on his father's documentary, A Cry From Iran. According to Andre, "This is the most significant project I have probably ever worked on, because it is the story of my role model and my inspiration." Andre's focus is on youth and so he has been sharing his testimony in many youth rallies and Christian schools.
Ashwin Ramani comes from the southern part of India. He is the first in his entire family lineage to become a follower of Jesus. Ashwin came to faith in Christ at the age of 18 from an upper caste Hindu family. He persevered in the midst of family oppositions and answered God’s call to serve in full time ministry. Ashwin and his wife, Aboli, pastored a church in north-west India before coming to Canada for his higher theological studies. After graduating with a Masters in Divinity, Ashwin is currently on staff at Centre Street Church in Calgary as Pastor of Multiethnic Ministries. He has a deep burden to reach out to people coming to Canada from all around the world and is leading this ministry initiative at his church. 
The conference will also provide the opportunity to pray for the persecuted and worship the Lord with fellow believers.

Saturday, November 10, 2012 -- 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Forward Baptist Church
455 Myers Road
Cambridge, ON N1R 5S2

For more information, click here. We hope to see you there!

Prisoner of faith: Imran Ghafur

On July 1, 2009, Pakistani police arrested Imran Ghafur in Punjab province after Muslims accused him of burning pages of the Qur’an. While cleaning his brother’s retail shop, Imran removed the trash he had collected, intending to burn some of it. While burning the trash, pages of an Islamic book flew into the fire and burned. Imran’s neighbour, Haji Liaqat, saw the burned pages of the Islamic book and alerted other Muslims in the area.

Imran and his father were severely beaten before police arrested Imran. Following the arrest, news of the incident spread throughout the city, and angry Muslims threw stones at the police station where Imran was being held. “Give the death sentence to him who disgraces the Holy Qur’an, and hang him who disgraces the Holy Qur’an,” the Muslims said.

On January 11, 2010, Imran was sentenced to life in prison and fined 100,000 rupees.

In March 2012, Imran’s family shared with VOM that Imran spends time praying and singing spiritual songs in the prison at midnight. Sometimes Muslim prisoners join him and ask him to pray for them. Imran also spends time reading the Bible. His family shared that he is anxious to be released so that he can "do missionary work for Jesus."

Please encourage Imran today by writing him a letter. Remind him that he is known by God and by his brothers and sisters in Christ. Tell him you are praying for him and his family.

Kindly mail your letters to:

Imran Ghafur
Central Jail of Faisalabad

Please note: When writing a letter, never mention the name of the source of your information or the name of any organization such as Voice of the Martyrs or Prisoner Alert. It is not dangerous for a prisoner to receive letters from individuals, but if an organization is mentioned they may be accused of links with “foreign organizations” and receive harsher sentences. Also, please do not state anything negative about their government. For more information on letter writing, click here. To create a letter using phrases in Imran’s own language, please visit

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Video: Nigeria’s persecuted children

The constant and ruthless attacks against Christians in Nigeria have left many children orphaned. Many of these kids now bear emotional or physical scars.

In this video, you’ll meet five of these children and see how The Voice of the Martyrs is helping provide them with education, a safe place to live, and new hope.

For other videos like this one, please visit our multimedia site.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Words from our founder: United with the Reality

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...” – John 1:14

I have told in the West how Christians were tied to crosses for four days and four nights. The crosses were put on the floor and other prisoners were tortured and made to fulfill their bodily necessities upon the faces and the bodies of the crucified ones.

I have since been asked, “Which Bible verse helped and strengthen you in those circumstances?” My answer is, “No Bible verse was of any help.” It is sheer cant and religious hypocrisy to say, “This Bible verse strengthens me, or that Bible verse helps me.” Bible verses alone are not meant to help. We knew Psalm 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want ... though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death....”

When you pass through suffering you realize that it was never meant by God that Psalm 23 should strengthen you. It is the Lord who can strengthen you, not the psalm that speaks of Him doing so. It is not enough to have the psalm. You must have the One about whom the psalm speaks. We also knew the verse, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9). But the verse is not sufficient. It is the grace that is sufficient.

Pastors and zealous witnesses who are handling the Word as a calling from God are in danger of giving holy words more value than they really have. Holy words are only the means to arrive at the reality expressed by them. If you are united with the Reality, the Lord Almighty, evil loses its power over you; it cannot break the Lord Almighty. If you have only the words of the Lord Almighty, you can be very easily broken.

Excerpted from The Triumphant Church, a three-part study guide on suffering and persecution from the writings of Richard Wurmbrand, John Piper and Milton Martin. You can order a copy of this book from our online resource catalogue.

The Voice of the Martyrs was founded in the mid-1960s by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who was imprisoned and tortured by Communist authorities in his native Romania for 14 years. While still in prison, Pastor Wurmbrand envisioned a ministry that would focus on the plight of the persecuted Church, raise a voice on their behalf, and provide encouragement and assistance to them.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sharing persecution stories with kids

A VOM supporter recently shared the following letter with our sister mission, VOM-USA. In the letter, the supporter discusses how stories from the persecuted Church, when presented properly, can build up the faith of kids.

What do you think? Do you think it is a good idea to share with kids about the persecuted Church?
“When I talk with parents about persecution, a common concern they share is their hesitation to share this with their children. Many parents are afraid it might confuse or frighten their children. They worry that knowing about persecution might discourage their child’s young faith from growing.
“But what I have experienced is the complete opposite. If presented properly, it does not upset children, but builds up their faith. It triggers a loving response in them because they feel a connection with other Christians and want to reach out to them. This builds up their understanding of unity.
“The message of the persecuted church is not a message of hopelessness and fear, but of Christ empowering his followers with overcoming faith and strength.
“Read 2 Timothy 1:8. What an awesome way to impart to our children the fellowship of the body, and not just teach it to our children, but to live it with our children. What a tremendous opportunity we have to build up the next generation of believers!”
To help parents and educators tell kids about their persecuted brothers and sisters, VOM has developed a unique website with stories, activities, and other resources designed specifically for kids. You can check it out at

Monday, November 5, 2012

Be a link in the Christmas chain

A Christian prisoner in Cuba was asked to sign a statement containing charges against fellow Christians that would lead to their arrest. He said: “The chain keeps me from signing this.”

The Communist officer protested, “But you are not in chains!”

“I am,” said the Christian. “I am bound by the chain of witnesses who throughout the centuries gave their lives for Jesus Christ. I am a link in this chain. I will not break it.”

This December, consider joining with our brothers and sisters by becoming a link in the Christmas chain!

Last year, our sister mission, Release International, began a Christmas chain campaign in the UK as a creative way to remember our persecuted family. Churches created Christmas paper chains and used them to decorate sanctuaries, Sunday school rooms, and Christmas trees.

On each link in the chain was written the name of a persecuted believer along with the name of the Christian who assembled the link. The names of our persecuted brothers and sisters can be found on this blog, in our prayer alert, and in our newsletter.

Many congregations in the UK then gave five minutes or so during each Sunday service in December to hear the story of one of the persecuted Christians listed on the chain. This was done not to dampen the joy of Christmas, but rather to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).

Why not consider joining us in creating a chain of your own this Christmas?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Christian’s secret weapon

Switzerland: Michael Sattler

Michael Sattler was not surprised by his sentence – to have his tongue cut out and then to be burned as a heretic. It was the sixteenth century, and Michael was Anabaptist, a movement of believers who wanted to return to a New Testament form of church. However, Europe’s religious and social institutions saw the Anabaptists as a threat.

A crowd of onlookers began to gather in the marketplace. One of the bystanders was twenty-five-year-old Klaus von Grafeneck, who stood close to the convict, watching the executioner prepare for Michael’s impending death.

Michael began to pray despite his then-slurred speech, “Dear Lord, open the eyes of this young man...”
Klaus suddenly jumped back, in shock that this criminal was praying for him!

As the executioner bound Michael, the prisoner turned to the crowd and in garbled speech said, “Be ye converted!” Then he closed his eyes and prayed: “Almighty, eternal God...I will...on this day testify to the truth and seal it with my blood.”

With that, the executioner threw Michael into the fire. When the ropes on his hands were burned through, he raised them into the air and prayed, “Father, I commend my spirit into thy hands.”

Klaus was so touched by the condemned man’s prayer for him that he recorded Sattler’s death as a tribute. He concluded it by writing: “May God grant us also to testify of him so bravely and patiently.”

Prayer is a Christian’s secret weapon. It makes a silent statement or an open overture about one’s faith in Christ. When Klaus heard a condemned man pray, it made him stop and think. Likewise, when others in a restaurant see us bless our meals before we eat, we may also cause them to stop and consider God. Even if we capture people’s thoughts for a mere moment and turn their minds toward Christ, we have done our duty. As Michael proved with Klaus, prayer changes lives and inspires commitment. However, God can’t use the prayer you don’t offer. Take some time to offer a silent prayer for the benefit of someone you meet today. You never know what will happen as a result.

Excerpted from Extreme Devotion, a book of 365 true accounts of men and women who totally sold out for Jesus. You can order a copy of this book from our online catalogue or by contacting our office.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Christmas Blessing Pakistan: Renew hope & courage

Christians live under constant threat in Pakistan. Fundamentalist Muslims, unjust laws, and deep-rooted discrimination keep Christians hard pressed and struck down (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

This Christmas, you can help renew the hope and courage of our persecuted family in Pakistan. Remind them that they have not been abandoned by their Father or by their brothers and sisters around the world.

For $35.00, you can supply a Christmas Blessing package for a family facing opposition for Christ’s sake. Each package contains practical items, including towels, socks, and soap, as well as pantry items like sugar and rice.

To help meet the family’s spiritual needs, the packages also include a Bible and the illustrated storybook He Lived Among Us.

Please join us in bringing renewed hope and courage to our family in Pakistan this Christmas.

You can give a gift of a Christmas Blessing package for $35.00 by contacting our office or visiting us online (note: when giving online, please select “Christmas Blessing” from the designation drop-down menu.).

Friday, November 2, 2012

Memories from VOM’s early days

After being asked by Richard Wurmbrand to start a ministry to persecuted Christians around the world, Merv Knight helped start The Voice of the Martyrs Australia and has continued working there ever since.

In this interview, VOM-USA's Todd Nettleton interviews Merv Knight about the history of our mission, stories of God's work through The Voice of the Martyrs, and memories of Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand.

For other videos like this, visit VOM Canada or VOM USA on YouTube. You can also watch videos on our multimedia site.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What difference can one person make?

Written by Glenn Penner

What difference can one person make? Perhaps you’ve wondered that yourself. “How can I make a difference when I am only one person, and not a particularly important one at that?”

During the reign of the Roman Empire, Romans attended gladiatorial games at the Coliseum for entertainment. There gladiators would fight criminals, prisoners and vicious animals until death.

It was January 1404 A.D. when a hermit monk named Telemachus travelled to Rome just in time to attend games celebrating a Roman army victory. Telemachus watched in horror as gladiators struck down fighter after fighter. He could stand it no longer. He leaped into the arena.

“Do not requite God’s mercy,” Telemachus shouted, “in turning away the swords of your enemies by murdering each other!”

Neither the crowd nor the combatants paid any attention. Desperate, he ran from gladiator to gladiator, imploring them to stop. The crowd mocked him, shouting, “Sedition! Sedition! Down with him! This is no place for preaching! The old customs of Rome must be observed! On gladiators!”

Some accounts say Telemachus was struck down by those fighting in the arena. Others say the indignant spectators stoned the peacemaker to death. The latter is probably true. In either case, his actions and his death had a far-reaching impact on Rome.

Telemachus made others aware that the gory killing contests had no place among true Christians. Upon hearing that the peaceful man had been slain, the Christian Emperor Honorarius issued an edict banning gladiatorial combats. Telemachus saved countless others with his passionate, selfless act.

When Telemachus began that day, I doubt that he had any idea that this would be the day of his martyrdom. He had not gone looking to make a difference. He was on his way to the East to live a life of solitude. But encountering life as he did, he determined to make a difference for Christ’s sake and, in doing so, saved the lives of thousands and changed the Roman Empire forever.

As you go about your life today, be sensitive to those times when you can make a difference for today and for eternity. You can’t plan these things ahead of time. But you can live your life in such a way as to be ready to obey when called upon by the Spirit of God, beginning each day asking Christ to live His life in and through you to His glory.

Glenn Penner, former CEO of The Voice of the Martyrs Canada, passed away in January 2010. Glenn was passionate about researching and teaching the theology of persecution. For more of his writing, you can check out his book, In the Shadow of the Cross.