A gun barrel is pushed against my temple. “You write a letter--or you die!” The militant jabs the gun again, but harder this time. “Write. Write,” he commands. A pen and paper are thrown on my lap.
I move my head slightly, but the barrel is pushed closer. Although one eye is swollen shut, I catch a glimpse of movement from my good eye. I see Martha and the other missionary women standing, huddled together in a corner. They’re quietly praying. Two other militants with assault rifles are standing guard over the women. The guards speak in their native tongue, and I can’t understand what they’re saying. The guard with me speaks fluent English, though, and he appears to be the leader. I hear several other guards outside.
I see three bodies in pools of blood. They were dragged in, one by one, and left as a display in the center of the room. Two are men from our missionary group, the other is our translator. They’ve been beaten, and each one has been shot dead.
Daniel, the youngest of our group, is dragged back into the room and thrown on the floor next to me. His face is unrecognizable, but he's alive. He moans as he gets a final kick in the stomach. His tormentor speaks to my guard, but not in English.
My guard leans over me; he’s in my face. I feel his hot breath against my cheek. “You write a letter now,” he demands, as he pushes the pen into my hand. “You were wrong to come to our country with your Bibles. If you forsake Jesus, you will live.” His boot nudges Daniel’s leg. “Your friend here--he wrote a letter; he has forsaken Jesus. Now, we’ll let him live.”
I look at Daniel--did he do it? Did he forsake Jesus? Daniel is very much like Timothy of the Bible; I am his mentor. I find it difficult to believe Daniel would deny Christ. But torture….
Daniel moans again. Did he say “ohhh” or “nooo”? I can’t quite understand.
With a trembling hand, I begin to write.
Martha wails, “No, Charles, don’t do it, don’t do it….”
A guard is slapping Martha now. Slapping. Slapping. Slapping. He’s yelling uncomprehensible words at her.
I must protect Martha. “Don’t hurt her; please--don’t hurt her.” I struggle to my feet; the butt of a gun knocks me down again.
Martha collapses to the floor. She no longer cries, but her lips are moving. I know she’s praying. Martha’s faith is strong, and she’ll pray till her dying breath. Such faith my dear wife has…always stronger than mine….
My guard grabs my hair and twists until I face him. “Write!” he growls through gritted teeth.
There’s nothing I can do to save Martha, myself, or anyone. I am helpless.
I finish writing the letter; the guard smiles and takes it from my hand.
Daniel is stirring; I hear a guttural moan, but this time it’s very clear. “Nooo….”
My guard pays no attention to Daniel--he’s concentrating on my letter. His face reddens, his eyes flash hatred as he reads:
I know you are in control of this situation, although our captors believe they are.
You have blessed our ministry in this land. It has been very fruitful and many have come to know you as Lord and Savior though it.
Thank you for dying for me. Now I give my life for your name’s sake.
You have promised me eternal life, so I do not fear death. When I am absent from my body, I will be present with you.
Strengthen me, Lord, that I’ll remain faithful to the end. May I hear you say, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.’
In your service,
P.S. To my captors, I say: You, too, can have forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ; for there is no other name under Heaven by which we must be saved.
The guard spits on the letter, and snarls, “For this--you'll all die!” He barks out an order to the other militants.
With closed eyes, I whisper my final prayer, “Jesus, receive my spirit--“
I hear a blaze of gunfire; the door is kicked open. Bullets fly everywhere. Blood splatters on the walls, ceiling, floor, and on me. In seconds it’s over.
A rescue team is here.
The militants lie dead.
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