We Will Remember Them

img_1229They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Englishman Laurence Binyon wrote his well-known poem, “For the Fallen”, shortly after the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Sitting on the cliffs of Cornwall, gazing across to France where the British army had suffered heavy casualties on the Western Front, he composed the poem to honour his fallen countrymen. The third and fourth stanzas are quoted often as a universal tribute for fallen servicemen and women.

Receiving little recognition, an ongoing battle rages between the worldwide family of Christ and those who oppose and persecute its members. Recently Perfecto, a dedicated church elder from a village in the Philippines, was brutally murdered by two Muslim men as he rested in a hammock outside his house. Perfecto’s 12 year old daughter witnessed the shooting. She and her younger brother lost their only parent as their mother left the family years ago.* Perfecto’s murder is only one among many occurring in countries restricted and hostile to Christians. As well, large numbers of believers are being tortured, imprisoned and persecuted for their faith. Will we remember them?

When the apostle Paul wrote the book of Hebrews, the early Christians were already suffering persecution for their belief in Christ. “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
(Heb. 13:3 NIV) Calling upon the compassion exemplified by Christ, Paul exhorts believers to identify with their persecuted brothers and sisters and do what they can to comfort and help them. The most accessible and effective defense for such intense spiritual warfare is the weapon of prayer which can be wielded from anywhere by any believer. In Ephesians 6. Paul uses the parts of a soldier’s armour to illustrate the list of defenses needed for spiritual warfare. He instructs them to pray “in the Spirit, on all occasions” and to “be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Eph. 6:18)

How can we best honour and remember those of the army of Christ who have given their lives for their faith? By vigilantly praying for those who are presently being persecuted around the world because of their love for Jesus, asking Him to equip and protect them with the His spiritual armour. “At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”

* story from Voice of the Martyrs http://www.persecution.com

 

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Warrior

3474875-hands-of-the-elderly-woman-close-upI would literally sit at the feet of this frail woman housed in a body scored by pain. With my legs tucked beneath me, I listened to her soft voice as she taught me from a worn Bible open on her quilt-covered lap. As a busy mother of three young children, these times of spiritual learning and prayer were vital to me. Being a new believer in Jesus Christ, I was hungry to know more about Him and Margaret became my mentor.

Cared for by her husband, Margaret watched the world from a little cedar cottage perched on a steep hillside overlooking the ocean. During a routine surgery she suffered irreparable nerve damage to her back and as a result lived with chronic, disabling pain. She became a housebound invalid, yet I never heard her complain.

Margaret was a warrior. A most unlikely one from the world’s view, but a warrior in an unseen yet ever present battle. Like a commander at her headquarters, she kept in touch with the battle through letters, phone calls and visits from those she upheld in prayer. She armed herself with the sword of God’s word and developed spiritual muscles in the crucible of pain and isolation. When she prayed aloud, I felt heaven hold its breath to listen.

Cradling my newborn son for the first time, her faded blue eyes swam with tears which dripped onto his blanket like a benediction. She had prayed fervently for the health and safe delivery of this little boy, and now here he was in her arms. Without hesitation she closed her eyes and lifted her trembling voice in praise for this gift from God. Margaret’s prayers were more meaningful to me than any christening ceremony.

When she talked about Jesus, it was obvious He was her closest companion. With warm reverence Margaret wove His name and words into all her conversations. From the confines of her home she looked for ways to tell others about Him, and to offer prayer for their needs. By the chair where she spent so many hours she kept a prayer list, underlined, marked and often tear-stained. The one name most prayed for was her son, Bill, whose wayward lifestyle had landed him in prison. The enemy faced a fierce opponent in Bill’s warrior mother.

This week in North America many soldiers will be remembered and commemorated for their brave, selfless deeds, as they should be. But there is another army whose arms may be weak but whose prayers are mighty; whose legs cannot stand but who wield the mighty sword of God’s word.

They do not wage war as the world does but declare like the apostle Paul, “The weapons of the war we’re fighting are not of this world but are powered by God and effective at tearing down the strongholds erected against His truth. We are demolishing arguments and ideas, every high-and-mighty philosophy that pits itself against the knowledge of the one true God. We are taking prisoners of every thought, every emotion, and subduing them into obedience to the Anointed One.” – (2 Corinthians 10:4-5  The Voice)

I am grateful for the soldiers who fought for our country’s freedom, but my true hero is a frail little lady whose prayers transcended her physical disabilities; a warrior who discovered Christ’s grace sufficient for her, for His power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)