Solomon Samaila and his father heard gunfire in their Nigerian village and started to flee, but never made it out of the village. They were surrounded by an angry mob that gave them an ultimatum, “You are Christian. Where are you going? This is the end of the road. You have only once choice left: Follow Islam.” A man from the crowd attacked Solomon’s father with a machete, killing him. They told Solomon they wouldn’t do the same to him if he would become Muslim. Solomon told them, “I will not deny Christ.”
They doused Solomon with gasoline and gave him one more chance to deny Christ. “I won’t deny,” Solomon declared.
Solomon was knocked to the ground by a machete blow to the back of his head. Then someone rode a motorcycle onto his back and laid it down. The hot engine ignited his gasoline-soaked shirt, the motorcycle keeping him pinned.
Solomon miraculously survived but lives with the results of severe burns to his back and still needs major skin grafting surgery. Solomon’s a carpenter, but he has lost much of the dexterity in his hands due to the injuries to his back.
Amazingly, by the grace of God, he says he’s forgiven his persecutors. The horrible persecution Solomon faced has strengthened his faith. He says, “The position of Christ in my life is so important to me, that to whatever extent I will defend my faith.” (The above information was taken from an article in The Voice of the Martyrs magazine, August 2015.)
I hope I never have to face a test of my faith as Solomon did of his. Would I be willing to be tortured, even tortured to the point of death, for not denying my faith in Christ?
It’s easy to see a faith in God as sort of an add-on, something that gives us comfort, a bit more peace, or some more strength. Faith can be primarily something that we see as being inherited from our parents and so we hold it dear, sort of a religious heirloom. We may even say our faith in the Lord is the most important part of our life, but what if we had to prove if that is really true? What if someone, with the obvious ability to carry out the threat, said to us, “Deny your faith or die”?
By the grace of God, I hope we would pass the test of faith. The truth is, we aren’t prepared to live out our faith unless we’re willing to die for our faith.
The barbed wire cross pictured here is a gift from my brother-in-law, Jim. It’s a reminder to me that following the Lord is often not without a cost.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (The words of Jesus in Matthew 5:10)