Recently a fireman, 39 year-old lieutenant in the Boston, Massachusetts Fire Department, gave up his life saving the lives of a mother and her child. He leaves his wife a widow and his three young children fatherless. This fireman joins the millions in uniform — military, law enforcement and firemen — who have given their lives to save ours.
I saw the recently released film, Midway. If ever there was a display of love and ultimate sacrifice for you and me, those World War II airmen did it. Nothing more can be given by any person – their natural claim to earthly possessions, wealth, love, relationship and family — all voluntarily forfeited to give that claim to us, we Americans of following generations. They spent their lives and everything it promised that you and I we may have life and the amenities of this great country.
With the most comforting and dignified funeral, the most eloquent eulogy, a moving graveside service, along with a plethora of touching sympathy cards — the depth and severity of the loss of a loved one cannot be quenched — the widow, the orphans, the parents, relatives and friends. Anyone in the world who reflects the limitless generosity of those who make the ultimate sacrifice are halted in their tracks, stunned by such this incomprehensible expression of love.
Without exception, all generations of humankind are stained and splattered by the blood of those who went before them laying down their lives that those following them might live.
When thinking about such ultimate self-sacrifice for others, the term martyrdom comes to the fore. A martyr is a person who is killed because of his/her love and commitment to God. History reveals that all religions have suffered the loss of their believers who refused to renounce their faith; with Christians leading that heroic and bloody pack.
For the last 10 years, 9,000 Christians each year on an average have been killed for believing that Jesus Christ is the indispensable spiritual Savior for all people. In fact, Christian martyrdom stands as the largest violation of human rights in our time. The most attacked religion is Christianity and the most attackers against them are non-Christians; currently and especially from those who are radical Islamic aggressors.
World peace leaders have long stated that there can be no peace between nations until there is peace between religions. If only it would be as the prophet Isaiah states, “Come let us reason together”. [Isaiah 1:18]
If facing martyrdom — choosing Jesus or death — how many of us Christians (or those of us who call ourselves such) would be found willing to die? For the most part we Americans have no idea what it is to profess our faith under the threat of persecution or death. We can go most anywhere in the country freely practicing our particular religious belief.
In several countries of the world, Christian martyrdom continues at that staggering clip of one in every six minutes. May appreciating America and its freedom of religion ever be revered and defended. What a future awaits any of us who choose daily to serve others or if need be, even to make the incomprehensible and immeasurable ULTIMATE SACRIFICE for God and country.