This past weekend we celebrated Memorial Day. There were parades, barbeques, picnics, family celebrations, and the like. There were speeches and moments of respectful silence given at cemeteries all over the land.
Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday of the month of May to honor the men and women who died while in service to our great nation. The movement to have a “Decoration Day” began shortly after the Civil War to honor its military dead as monuments to fallen soldiers were erected and dedicated and soldier’s graves were decorated and ceremonies were held to honor those who died serving our country. After World War I, those ceremonies expanded to honor all of those who died in all American wars. It is a most solemn time.
The month of May began with the National Day of Prayer for all America and ended with Memorial Day. We pray and honor Americans for their service to our nation whether they are in our military, in government service, in state or local government, in education, and those who serve the American people in business. Memorial Day is the capstone of praying and honoring our military for their supreme sacrifice.
These are all great services to honor and pray for, not just in May, but throughout the entire year. But there is another soldier that I would also like to recognize and that is the Christian soldier. The meme says, “There are only two defining forces that have ever offered to die for you: Jesus Christ and the American soldier. One died for your soul, the other died for your freedom.” We often fail to recognize the Christian soldier but in our world today those who name the name of Christ are being persecuted and martyred in record numbers.
Since the time of Christ there have been over 70,000,000 believers martyred for the cause of believing in Christ. (See link below). (https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/father-forgive-them) And possibly as many as a half million or more killed simply for being a Christian believer in the decade from 2005-2015. Being a believer in Christ is a result of receiving the free gift of salvation but it costs. It cost Jesus his life on the cross and sometimes it costs the believer their lives as well.
Christians are actively persecuted in over 50 countries with as many at 10,000 deaths per year and countless thousands put in jails and prisons. (https://vom.com.au/persecution/) (From Voice of the Martyrs) The cost of someone laughing and pointing at you when you pray over your burger at Wendy’s seems somehow lost in this real kind of persecution.
There is a real war on for your faith. Your brothers and sisters in our Christian faith are suffering across this globe and they depend upon you praying and seeking God’s favor for them. They are real soldiers on the front line of our faith.
While Memorial Day is over and you are now back in your workday routine, won’t you take a moment to pause and reflect on those who are believers around you? Won’t you pray for the Persecuted Church here and across the globe? The old hymn, “Onward Christian Soldiers” employs us as believers in a grand army united by faith in Christ to march forward as to war: “With the cross of Jesus, going on before!”
I hope you had a wonderful, safe, and respectful Memorial Day weekend. We can never give thanks enough for what the American soldier has done for us as a people. Like the American soldier, we can never give thanks enough for what the martyred Christian believer has done for the Church. Both can testify that: “All gave some…some gave All.” What are you willing to give so that the Church can move forward?
Dr. Chuck Wilson
Carrollton Bible Chapel