Saturday, January 14, 2017
A Martyr's Grace by Marvin J. Newell
A Martyr's Grace: 21 Moody Bible Institute Alumni Who Gave Their Lives For Christ is a collection of short biographies by Marvin J. Newell. Telling the stories of these martyrs as best as can be compiled through journal entries, first-person accounts, public records, and personal correspondence, Marvin shares with us glimpses into their lives, teachings, and the examples that they have put forth to share the message of the Lord with those who would otherwise not be exposed to it.
What first drew me to this book was the D. L. Moody quote on the back, which states:
"Have you grace to be a martyr?" D. L. Moody was once asked.
"No," he replied, "I have not. But if God wanted me to be one,
he would give me a martyr's grace."
The first chapter of the book goes on to explain the following:
A martyr's grace is a special gift granted to a select few. Of the thousands of graduates
of the Moody Bible Institute who have entered Christian service, less than two dozen
have been granted this grace. Whereas scores of graduates have died while doing
ministry, only a few have died a "martyr's death."
These 21 martyrs served in countries all over the world, and died between 1898 and 2002. Their ages ranged from 27 to 63, and they consist of both men and women. They were teachers, nurses, pilots, church planters, Bible translators, and administrators - ordinary people with ordinary vocations. The only things all of these people had in common was a history with Moody Bible Institute and their heartfelt love and devotion for sharing Christ with others. When the time came, they all willingly gave everything of themselves in order to further serve God.
Marvin dedicates around 7 pages to each of the names that most of us have probably never heard of, taking the time to show us their childhood, upbringing, how they came into the Lord's service, and the manner in which they left this world. For most of them, he also goes past their death to demonstrate the impact their life and martyrdom had on the community in which they served and the world as a whole.
The two stories that had the largest impact on me personally were that of John Cornelius Stam and his wife, Elizabeth (Betty) Alden Stam. While their lives were tragically taken by Chinese Communists in 1934, God made provision for their baby girl to be rescued and returned to her grandparents.
This book does have graphic details pertaining to each death, although it does not go beyond the necessary facts. My intentions upon receiving this book were to use the included stories to further illustrate a weekly study of Christian persecution (past and present) that my family has set forth on this year, and I personally have no problem sharing this stories with my almost-teens in a family setting where questions can be asked as they arise.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about Christian history pertaining to martyrs, or who needs a reminder that God chooses and calls ordinary people to live - and sometimes die - in extraordinary ways, and that no life is ever truly wasted. 5/5 stars.
*I received a free print edition of this book from Moody Publishers for the purpose of an honest review. All opinions are my own.*