Stories of Christian martyrs are the best stories there are. At youth camp or around a campfire at night, there is nothing more inspiring.
(Jump straight to the stories below)
You should learn these stories, put them in your own words, and tell them with passion.
They matter even to God …
It's a beautiful thing to God when a Christian does battle with pain. When he faces threats, punishments, and tortures by mocking death and treading underfoot the horror of the executioner; when he raises up his freedom in Christ as a standard before kings and princes; when he yields to God alone and, triumphant and victorious, he tramples upon the very man who has pronounced sentence upon him. God finds all these things beautiful. (Minucius Felix, The Octavius 37, c. 200)
In the past, when history was primarily preserved by grandfathers and storytellers around the campfire, everyone's favorites were the stories of brave warriors.
Christian martyrs are our mighty warriors.
Christians are not physically violent people. Our kingdom is from heaven (John 18:36), and our warfare is with "principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in the heavens" (Eph. 6:12).
This does not mean our weapons are not real. Our weapons are real, and they overthrow the world.
Martyrdom was the Christian's primary method of warfare, and stories of Christian martyrs were met not with mourning, but with triumph.
The oftener we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow. The blood of Christians is seed. (Tertullian, Apology 50, c. A.D. 200)
Christian Martyrs from Early Christianity (Pre-Nicene Era)
The stoning of Stephen in Jerusalem
- Pliny the Younger: Epistle to Trajan -- This is a terrific description, between a governor and emperor of Rome, of the treatment of Christians in early Christianity.
- The Martyrdom of Justin Martyr and Companions -- The faithfulness of Justin earned him the name he is known by, Justin Martyr. This is the actual ancient text describing the testimony of Justin and friends before the Roman prefect, Rusticus.
- Perpetua and Felicitas -- Perhaps we Americans are unworthy to read the story of the bravery of these two young ladies and the men who accompanied them to the wild beasts. Secundulus mourned that he died in prison and missed out on being killed by beasts in the amphitheater. It's in sections:
- You may enjoy this art from holyart.com. Fortunately, the prayer called "prayer to Christian martyrs" is actually to God about martyrdom. I get no commission for this link. I'm just supplying it for your benefit.
Christian Martyrs from the Reformation Period:
Where'd I Learn All This Stuff???
Nothing deep. Most of these stories of Christian martyrs were taken from the books Martyr's Mirror
and Foxe's Book of Martyrs
. (If I use any others, I'll reference them.
) They are all retold in my own words.
Which is how you should tell them, too!