“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10).
In the Book of Acts we see the early Church reaching entire communities. There are many places in Acts where the believers prayed for the sick and saw them instantly healed by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Greek word used to describe these supernatural healings is iáomai.
Are you aware, however, that on more than two dozen occasions in the New Testament a different Greek word, therapeuo, is used to describe healings? This word, from which we derive the English word ‘therapeutic’, is used to describe the healing of the paralyzed man in John chapter 5 and the healing of the daughter of the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:28. The Apostle Luke, a medical doctor, used this word fifteen times in his writings.
Finally, when the Apostle Paul and his colleagues were shipwrecked on the Island of Malta in Acts 28, they decided to make the most of the situation by reaching out to the local population. Both kinds of healing, the supernatural and the natural, occurred when the father of the chief official of the island was healed of fever and dysentery. The Scripture says, “Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him [iáomai]. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured” [therapeuo] (Acts 28:8-9).
It seems that after seeing God heal the sick man supernaturally, Dr. Luke and his fellow believers held a medical clinic to minister to the people of Malta, and as a result many were exposed to the Gospel for the first time.
The Living Martyrs’ Fund
Helping Church Leaders who have Given their All for Christ
A martyr has been defined as “a Christian who chooses to suffer death rather than deny Christ or His work... One who sacrifices something very important to further the Kingdom of God and endures great suffering for Christian witness.”
In this newsletter we would like to share about one of our long-standing projects, the Living Martyrs’ Fund. For almost twenty years this project has been a foundational part of our work, and hundreds of church leaders have been greatly blessed and encouraged by the help they have received through the fund.
This project is available to church leaders in Asia who have been persecuted because of their witness for Christ. Often, as a result of brutal torture, imprisonment, and extreme hardship, these leaders are now physically or mentally disabled and are unable to earn a living.
In China, where the majority of our Living Martyrs’ Fund recipients are located, many house church pastors who have been imprisoned for their faith are declared to have lost their “political rights.” This means they are not permitted to have a passport or travel freely within China; they are banned from ever having a government job, and any benefits such as a pension or medical insurance is taken away from them.
Furthermore, their wives and family members are also frequently punished. Their sons and daughters are often banned from attending university or college. Subsequently, many of the ‘living martyrs’ we are honored to support are left destitute, and in dire need of additional help over and above what their own families are able to provide.
The monthly amount we give to these faithful servants of God goes a long way to relieve some of their daily struggles. They come from churches that believe in the supernatural healing of God, and they have been prayed for many times. They remain gravely ill or injured, however, and so they deeply appreciate the support they receive, which is often used to buy medicine and other daily essentials like nutritious food and clothing. The local churches in their area are also expected to take care of these saints as is fitting for believers to do, but some live in remote areas where there are few Christians to assist them.
Many of the testimonies we receive from our project leaders are heart-rending. One former church leader in Vietnam, who boldly stood for the truth of the Gospel for decades and endured horrible punishment for the sake of Christ, was found by our colleagues to be living in a bamboo shack on the edge of a jungle. This widower, in his 70s, was struggling to scavenge enough food to stay alive. His relatives had long ago deserted him, ashamed of his stubborn faith in God, and the believers in that part of the country had lost touch with him and didn’t know his whereabouts.
For the past several years this precious Vietnamese brother has been helped through the Living Martyrs’ Fund. He is deeply thankful and tears well up in his eyes whenever he thinks of how God’s people did not forget him in the time of his greatest need.
In the following pages we will share a few short summaries from among the hundreds of applications that have come across our desk for the Living Martyrs’ Fund. Some of these we are already supporting, while others we hope to begin helping soon. Although we have changed their names and details to protect their identities (and the pictures are not of these specific believers), their testimonies are true.
Brother Vue is in his late 50s. For decades, he and his wife faithfully took the Gospel to the lost, establishing countless believers in the Christian faith. In the course of serving the Lord they endured terrible hardship and persecution. Several years ago his wife suffered a trauma which left her paralyzed. Now she has a growth on her neck and a brain disorder which doctors are unable to treat. She experiences constant pain and neither Brother Vue or his wife is able to earn an income. They have exhausted their personal funds after selling their property and Brother Vue must devote his time to caring for his wife’s failing health. This precious couple needs help just to survive.
Sister Qui is a widow, all alone and almost 90-years-old. She told our co-workers of her deep loneliness as her health deteriorates. She suffers from insomnia and cardio vascular difficulties and is partially blind. In the last few years her memory has also been fading as she nears the end of her life in this world. Sister Qui misses her husband greatly, and deeply appreciates the support we send her as it enables her to afford medicine and daily food.
Brother Trinh, who is now in his late 60s, was enlisted into the North Vietnamese army as a young man. As payment he received a small block of land to build a hut. Trinh became a Christian in 1991, however, and served the Lord by sharing the gospel at every opportunity. The Communist authorities labelled him a traitor and began to severely persecute him. His government support was stopped and the police continually harassed him. Despite these hardships he continued to serve the Lord. Some time ago he had an accident and suffered a broken jaw, which never healed properly. He also has dangerously high blood pressure, the result being that he can no longer work for a living. The amount Brother Trinh receives through the Living Martyrs’ Fund is a great blessing to him. It allows him to buy medication and receive treatment for his health issues. Subsequently, he is still testifying about Jesus Christ to everyone he comes into contact with.
Simon had been an effective church planter for several years when radical Hindus ran his motorcycle down in an attempt to murder him in February last year. A few days later the Hindus came and attacked him and other believers during a church service. Simon was hospitalized for weeks with head and chest injuries, and his leg was broken in several places. He thanks God for helping him survive, but his family is now destitute and he is unable to work due to the severity of his injuries. Please pray for this courageous and faithful family.
Brother Sodi and his family were ostracized from their village by Hindus because they refused to participate in idolatrous festivals. They were severely beaten and their goats and all worldly possessions were seized and sold, to force them to pay for the village rituals. Now they are not allowed to draw water from the village well, and the entire community refuses to speak to them or do business with them. Brother Sodi and his family are in great need of help just to survive. Despite this persecution they refuse to deny Christ and are faithfully continuing to worship Him.
Martha was a widow when she met Jesus Christ and surrendered her life to Him. Her simple home was used as a place to worship God, until one day radical Hindus sexually assaulted Martha and mercilessly beat her and her two children. They were forced to flee the village to a neighbouring state, where they are hiding from packs of bloodthirsty men who are hunting for them as they seek to take their lives. We are providing funds for this precious family as they reconstruct their lives and Martha learns a new trade.
Brother Zhou has been a house church leader for more than twenty years, faithfully leading God’s flock and reaching many people for Jesus Christ. Because of his refusal to close his house church and join the government-approved Three-Self Patriotic Movement, Zhou was abducted from his home by the secret police and tortured mercilessly in 2008 and 2014. As part of his punishment, the guards held him on the ground and poured some unknown liquid down his throat. As a result, ever since that time Brother Zhou has suffered severe stomach diseases which have ruined his health and caused untold suffering. Through it all, Brother Zhou has remained faithful to the Lord, but he is unable to work for a living and his family is destitute. Because he has been in prison, Brother Zhou is denied access to any government assistance and is not permitted to have medical insurance. The Living Martyrs’ Fund helps Brother Zhou buy medicine and treatment, as well as providing basic necessities for him and his family.
Brother Wan, who is now in his sixties, has served God as an evangelist since the time he first met Jesus Christ many years ago. Over the years he has been targeted by the authorities and has been called to endure four imprisonments for the sake of the Gospel between 1996 and 2013. On each of those occasions Brother Wan was tortured and treated with utter contempt. He is now a broken vessel and was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. Brother Wan is a dear brother who needs a “cup of cold water in Jesus’ Name” to help him make it through to the end. He is deeply appreciative of the prayers and assistance to help alleviate his struggles.
Although he is a relatively young man in his late 40s, Brother Xin has been a bold witness for Jesus Christ and has led many people to repentance. He is also a highly respected Bible teacher. The Communist authorities targeted him because of his house church activities and he was arrested and jailed three times (2004, 2009 and 2014). During those incarcerations, this man of God was publicly humiliated and nearly beaten to death. Now a widower without any family members to help him, Brother Xin suffers from post traumatic stress and has a slipped lumbar disc in his lower back, causing him constant and severe pain. He does not complain, however, and has patiently endured the scorn of sinful men. By receiving support through the Living Martyrs’ Fund, this precious brother will be able to afford treatment for his injuries and will hopefully begin on the road to recovery. Meanwhile, he continues to be a great blessing to many believers by encouraging them in God’s Word when they come to visit his home.
Brother Chee, who is now approaching the age of 70, faithfully served as a house church leader in north China for many years. After shepherding God’s flock through many trials and difficult times, Brother Chee was arrested and thrown into prison four times for the sake of the gospel, most recently in 2013. On each occasion he was brutally tortured and and forced to pay a heavy fine, all because he refused to compromise his testimony about Jesus Christ. Despite massive pressure, he withstood the tests and continues to love the Lord and His people to this present day. All the hardships over the years have taken their toll on Brother Chee. He and his wife are now destitute and he is battling Parkinson's disease. In China, being a convicted criminal means he is forbidden from receiving any government pension or medical benefits. He is relying on the Lord Jesus, and is thankful that believers around the world have not forgotten him.
If you would like to support one or more living martyrs then you can give to this project via our website.
All supporters of this project will receive a laminated prayer card of a living martyr, with a short summary of who they are and their testimony so you can pray for them.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon