What is a martyr?
According to Islam, a martyr (Fedayeen) is one who kills infidels [that is, non-Muslims] and commits suicide as a means to that goal. He is “encouraged with liberal promises of earthy rewards in heaven, including food and sex.” (TheReligionofPeace.com)
In Christianity, a martyr is “a person who suffers death rather than renounce his faith” (Collins English Dictionary). His motivation is faithful commitment to his Savior and the hope of eternal life with Him. However, Christians see life as a precious gift from God and they don’t seek martyrdom. Neither are they seeking to kill anyone but rather they pray for God’s mercy on those who persecute them, as Stephen, the first Christian martyr did in Acts 7:54-60.
Meriam Ibrahim is a hero of mine. A Sudanese doctor, devoted wife & mother, and faithful follower of Jesus Christ, she has been shackled in prison together with her toddler and baby girl born there in prison. And she has made it clear that she will not renounce her Lord even if it means suffering her sentence of 100 lashes and hanging!
She reminds me of the apostle Paul, also chained in prison, who wrote the verses I’ve been memorizing:
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed,
but will have sufficient courage
so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body,
whether by life or by death.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:20-21)
When my time comes, I pray that I will have the courage and conviction of Paul, Meriam, and others like them.
Meriam, I pray for your release, but more than that, I pray that you will continue to have courage to honor Christ whether through freedom, suffering, or even death.