In Ambon, Indonesia, a Christian youth camp was held in early 1999 with the theme “Soldiers of the Cross!” The camp was attacked by an angry group of Muslim extremists, and a 15 year-old boy named Roy Pontoh was singled out for carrying his Bible and was interrogated.
When asked, “Who are you?” he replied, “I am a soldier of Jesus Christ.” The angry mob chopped at his left arm with a machete. The questioning continued, “Who are you?” And again Roy answered, “I am a soldier of Jesus Christ.” Then they chopped at his right arm.
When they tried to force him to say, “Allahu Akbar,” he replied, “As far as I know, Jesus Christ is the only Lord.” Now the seething angry crowd cut open his stomach and demanded again, “Who are you?” With his last breath, Roy gasped, “I am a soldier of Jesus Christ.” The mob cut off his head and threw his body in a ditch.
Martyrdom may be the end result of those who endure. In addition to Jesus, three martyrs are named in the New Testament—John the Baptist, Stephen and James. Some of the unnamed heroes of the faith mentioned in Hebrews 11:37 were also martyred.
Martyrdom is described as a legitimate response to persecution. This is not easily understood in our day and in our culture that specializes in personal “rights” and the avoidance of suffering. But a special crown is awaiting those who lay down their lives for their faith.
The appropriate response to persecution that one chooses depends on that person’s intimate relationship with God, the Holy Spirit, and openness to His direction.
No doubt if you and I had talked to Roy Pontoh before his death, we may not have detected such bravery and loyalty to Jesus. Roy passed the hot water test with flying colors. He graduated to a special place with his Lord as a victorious overcomer.
Overcomers are like tea bags. You have to put them in hot water to know how strong they are!
Today I will live in faith and assurance that even in the test and threat of death I can be a victorious overcomer.
Pray that all those who may face physical death today for the cause of Christ will walk in faith and realize they will never die.