Stephen: The First Martyr
Parents and Teachers
The following excerpt is from Stephen: God’s Courageous Witness, a picture book for children about Christianity’s first martyr. The book, and other children’s books about Christian heroes, are available at VOMBooks.com. Preview is recommended before sharing the books with younger children.
When Jesus returned to heaven, He left behind His followers. But they were not alone or without help. As promised, Jesus sent His Holy Spirit. He knew the Holy Spirit would give His followers the strength and courage they needed to do His work. One of those followers was Stephen.
With the Holy Spirit’s help, Stephen courageously told others about Jesus and performed miracles. He was so good at convincing others to follow Jesus that in the end the Jewish leaders tried to stop Him….
[A group of angry Jewish leaders had Stephen arrested, taken to court, and executed.]
“Silenced for good!” one sneered. Soon, the Jewish leaders would learn that they were wrong. They may have silenced Stephen, but his death pushed the gospel outside the walls of Jerusalem.
Saul, one of the many who had witnessed his death, decided to go after the church….Many fled the city…As Christians fled and took the gospel throughout the region, an amazing thing happened. Saul was traveling to another town to arrest more Christians when Jesus appeared to him in a blinding light. He later became known as Paul, one of Christ’s most passionate messengers..
Today, Christians are arrested and sometimes killed in countries around the world for telling others about Jesus. In Pakistan, where most follow a religion called Islam, one young boy was courageous when he defended the Bible at school.
His teacher told him that the Bible had been changed. Standing among his classmates, he declared, “The Bible has not changed, but whoever reads it is changed.” Radical students yelled at him. But like Stephen, he stood firm.
[Read more about the boy in Pakistan here.]
Telling others about Jesus is not always easy. We may not be arrested or hurt, but others may not like what we say and may want to find ways to keep us quiet. Just remember, we may be their only chance to hear about Jesus. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can be courageous like Stephen and pray that Jesus will change their hearts.