Many paradoxes fill the Christian life: grace and strength through weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9); wisdom through foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18); greatness through humility and surrender (Matthew 20:26).

Add one more to the list: a “living” (vibrant and alive) “martyr” (suffering one).

In the New Testament, “martyr” translates as “witness.” A witness is somebody who testifies in an ethical or legal context of what has been seen or heard. A “living martyr” loves Jesus more than his own life.

Living Martyrs in Scripture

There are thirty-five references to martus, the majority being in the book of Acts in the Bible. Peter describes the first-hand account of witnesses testifying of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection at Pentecost (Acts 2:32). A strong LIVING witness (martyr) is someone bold to share Christ and witness His resurrection despite opposition, persecution, and oppression.

Consider the list of those mentioned as martyrs (martus) in the Word of God:

  • Jesus (Revelation 1:5)
  • Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32)
  • Stephen (Acts 22:20)
  • Those walking by faith (Hebrews 12:1)
  • Apostle John (Acts 1:22)
  • Antipas (Revelation 2:13)

For those in restricted nations where laws prohibit sharing the Gospel and the Bible, this spirit of courage and resolve is vital for reaching out and growing up new believers into deeper faith and maturity.

The Name “Spirit of Martyrdom”

Why is the ministry called Spirit of Martyrdom? The focus of SOM International is on reaching out to the most restricted and persecuted nations on the globe, targeting the 40 percent of the world’s population that has limited access to the Gospel. Only 3 percent of the resources generally given to missions affect this remote group.

Jesus is clear that whoever wants to follow Him must deny himself and take up their cross (Matthew 16:24), identifying with Him in death to be raised to the resurrected life. Therefore, the true believer can boldly take on the spirit of the very martyr (witness) who has given his life to the flames.

“Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life,” Jesus said (Revelation 2:10 ESV).