Standing with today’s persecuted Christians is central to our mission. But it is also important for us to draw inspiration from those who have gone before us…We have established this date, [June 29] coinciding with the anniversary of the martyrdom of the Apostle Paul, as an annual day of remembrance called Day of the Christian Martyr. — Cole Richards, President of The Voice of the Martyrs
Elise Wixtrom writes reviews of VOM resources for readers of kidsofcourage.com. Enter “Elise” in the search box to read about Elise and to find more of her reviews. Read below her review of Paul: God’s Courageous Apostle, a book from The Voice of the Martyrs’ Courageous Series. The six books in the series are available at vombooks.com.
The apostle Paul was not always called Paul, nor did he begin his relationship with Christianity as an apostle. Paul, born Saul, was a Roman citizen by right of his Jewish parents, who were most likely granted citizenship by their former slave master. Paul became a Pharisee as his career. Jewish leaders at the time advised those under their jurisdiction to leave the Christians alone and to let them die out. But Paul pursued new converts to Christ with a furious, deadly energy.
Paul held an unmatched hate in his heart toward the Christian faith. But that all changed when he headed to Damascus to arrest Christians in their house churches and secret gatherings. Paul was nearing the city when a bright light flashed into his vision, and he fell to the ground.
He heard a voice ask, “Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” the voice replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Saul stood up, but when he opened his eyes, he couldn’t see anything. He had to cancel his mission to arrest Christians in the area and instead was guided to a house in Damascus.
Meanwhile, a man named Ananias who lived in Damascus was praying to God. Suddenly Jesus appeared to him and told him to visit the Pharisee called Saul and that through Ananias, this man would regain his sight. Ananias, with apprehension, obeyed God’s words and visited the house where Saul was staying.
Saul, after being visited by Ananias, regained his sight and immediately stopped persecuting the early Church. In fact, he became a strong Christian and began a mission that would continue until his death at the hands of the Roman government.
Before Paul’s death, he was shipwrecked, imprisoned, stoned, and chased out of cities and synagogues. All the while, he did not ever hesitate to tell those around him about the Gospel of Christ. The Apostle Paul also wrote many letters to the early Church that are now translated and make up much of the New Testament.
Paul’s story of redemption reminds us that no matter who we are, God can do great things if we give our lives to His purpose. It also reminds us that no matter what a person has done, they can always be redeemed through God’s grace.