History of Spirit of Martyrdom
A Voice for the Church at Risk
Spirit of Martyrdom Internationally Serves Leaders Who Risk Much For Jesus
The SOM International network consists of kindred-hearted national leaders who assist each other to advance the gospel. These leaders have a “spirit of martyrdom” . . . they trust God to lead them in effective outreach as they live in restricted and hostile regions. These leaders are the “boots on the ground.” They are a credible witness of Jesus Christ and have much faith by leading lives of courage. They are leaders who are discipling other leaders. The regions they serve have limited or no access to the Word of God.
Pastor David Witt
History of Spirit of Martyrdom
Pastor David Witt was a Mission Representative speaking on behalf of the persecuted church for The Voice of the Martyrs from 1998 to 2008. David visited persecuted Christians in restricted nations and witnessed a genuine love and spirit of martyrdom (faithful or credible witness as defined from the biblical Greek language). A believer in Indonesia illustrated this fruit of love powerfully. While the gun was pointed at the head of the believer, he cried out, “Father, please forgive him for he knows not what he is doing.” The shot rang out and the believer went to be with our Lord. David was honored to meet with this beloved widow who shared, “If my husband could forgive the gunman, so could I.”
God strengthened David’s understanding of faith through the lives of our persecuted brothers and sisters. One Iraqi pastor was arrested by Saddam Hussein’s secret police for his Christian witness. He was beaten, tortured and interrogated while continuing to share Christ’s love to the Muslim inmates. He said, “God spoke to me and told me that if I would be faithful to speak His name inside of prison, then I would be faithful to speak His name outside of prison.”
David met believers who held on with hope and vision for the Kingdom of God when few others had none. In Egypt, the Muslim background believers have found hope in the prophecy of Isaiah 19:23-25. This prophecy speaks of the day when a highway of worship and peace will come to this area of the Middle East. God will pour out His blessing upon Egypt, Israel and Iraq. The followers of Christ believe they are preparing for this day. They told David that the blood of the martyrs would be the pavement of the highway. Their hope is contagious and inspires great courage. (All the above stories are told in greater detail in David’s book, Fearless Love – In the Midst of Terror.)
Overcoming Fear with Fearless Love
The message David discovered in his own life from global visits with the persecuted Church and personal studies is that the Bible tells us in the end times the love of most will wax cold. It is fear that waxes love cold. We live in days of terrorism. Love overcomes terrorism. Biblical love is martyrdom. Jesus demonstrated sacrificial love and died for His enemies. Jesus invites us to pick up our cross and be known for our sacrificial love.
Presently, there are over 50 Islamic majority controlled nations that restrict freedom and are hostile to the gospel. If the institutional Church in America is to be effective in ministry to persecuted Christians, Christians must understand the worldview that supports the human rights violations. Now America is under spiritual and physical attack from the same philosophy that supports persecution of Christians. In this environment, David found churches open to receive teaching regarding these issues.
History of Spirit of Martyrdom
In 2004, David was led to begin writing his first book, The Spirit of Martyrdom along with a friend Dr. Mujahid El Masih from Pakistan. In 2007, Casscom Media offered to produce The Spirit of Martyrdom – For the Love of Muslims as an audio book. In 2008, the book went to print and the name changed to Fearless Love – In the Midst of Terror.
December 2007, Spirit of Martyrdom was incorporated as a non-profit ministry. In April 2008, David transitioned from staff at The Voice of the Martyrs to an Associate Representative until spring 2011. David now serves Spirit of Martyrdom full-time as the Chief Executive Officer. David credits the Holy Spirit in expanding the scope of Spirit of Martyrdom to the global Church of courageous witnesses of Christ.
In 2014, SOM-North Africa was established with the assistance of SOM-USA. The President of SOM-North Africa has grown this work in outreach to the greater region by establishing Church Planting Schools in 2017. The schools are multiplying leaders and the Christian witness in unreached villages. The work of SOM-North Africa is unique as it is founded and run by ex-Muslims.
SOM-USA has supported Bangladeshi Christian leadership with assistance of distribution of tens of thousands of Bibles and Christian materials since 2008. In 2017, a faithful Bangladeshi Christian leader established SOM-Bangladesh. In 2019, they started their first Church Planting School to empower the leadership and multiplication of the church at risk in the region.
In 2011, SOM-USA started supporting the first Church Planting School within the SOM International network. In 2012, Pastor Singh established SOM-India with a heart to serve persecuted Christians and advance the gospel. India is considered the most unreached nation of the world to God’s Word and currently in the top ten nations to persecute the small minority of Christians. In 2012, Ladies Sewing Schools were established which trains widows in the skill of sewing and biblical discipleship. By 2019, over 3,800 Indian Church Planters have been trained in leadership and discipleship making. Over 1,400 ladies have started microbusinesses “Lighthouse Centers” in their homes as a witness to their villages.
In 2009, American missionary to Colombia and good friend, Russell Stendal, approached David about joining forces with Spirit of Martyrdom. Spirit of Martyrdom became the umbrella and United States office to communicate with USA partners the work in Latin America and vital ministry in war-torn Colombia. The ministry in Colombia is touching the lives of people through Christian radio broadcasting and distributing Bibles and Christian materials. The work has now expanded to the people of Venezuela and other Spanish speaking nations. Most importantly, there are relationships being built with Latin Americans of all political, religious and ethnic persuasion as we demonstrate peace and love through faith in Jesus Christ.
In 2019, faithful Mexican leaders bringing the gospel witness to the unreached tribal areas of the Sierra Madras Mountains established SOM-Mexico. This is a dangerous area to navigate with banditry and drug cartels. They are using aviation to access remote and hostile areas with the gospel. When nurturing new house churches in the mountains, they bring practical supplies and Bibles.
In 2012, SOM-USA started the Witness Development Department. David helped create a Discussion Discipleship Method and Evangelism method that is being used around the world. Specifically, Discipleship and Evangelism weekend workshops were developed in the USA to encourage believers. These methods are patterns found in scripture. They are the effective practices that David observed in his global travels.
Today SOM-USA domestically uses these workshops to serve the American Church. SOM-USA strengthens the leadership of the American Church with monthly updates – via printed newsletters, emails and web content, speaking and teaching at Christian gatherings and the distribution of Christian books and materials.
Spirit of Martyrdom is grateful to God in the expansion of His global network. We praise God for the many Christians domestically and internationally who sacrificially serve and give to further the Kingdom of Christ. If you would like to join us on this journey of what God is doing around the world, please contact us.
Spirit of Martyrdom International honors the martyr’s heritage. We teach the Hebrew and Greek doctrine of Scripture regarding martyrdom. We determine to bring attention to the sacrifice of the living martyrs and global leaders throughout history. We give special tribute to Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand and their influence in this ministry. We also seek to honor even the smallest sacrifice and contribution of the friends of Spirit of Martyrdom International.