By LESLIE LUDY
Few spiritual activities are more edifying to my soul than learning about heroes of the faith; reading the testimonies of men and women from generations past that “left it all on the field” for Jesus Christ, often at the cost of their comforts, homes, reputations, and very lives. Because I don’t have a lot of time to read, I’ve been listening to audiobooks of Christian biographies. Anytime I’m in my car, working around the house, folding clothes, or getting ready in the morning, I usually have a Christian biography (or audio Scripture) playing in the background. Recently I’ve listened to some riveting and awe-inspiring testimonies that have challenged me to the depths of my soul and convicted me in so many areas of my life.
With the holidays in full swing and Christmas break looming, we often feel entitled to spend our “down time” on shallow novels and holiday movies. Watching The Grinch or It’s A Wonderful Life can be fun traditions that give us warm, fuzzy feelings inside, but those pastimes can’t possibly refresh us spiritually or point us to Jesus like real-life testimonies of heroes of the faith.
This holiday season, a great way to keep your focus centered upon Jesus is to surround yourself with true stories that build your faith and deepen your level of surrender to Him.
Here are some “heroes of the faith” stories that have deeply impacted me in recent months:
The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun
For years I have esteemed the spiritual commitment of our Christian brothers and sisters in persecuted countries, but never have I truly understood the cost they must pay for their decision to stand with Christ. This is the true story of a man who suffered unthinkable persecution because of his unwillingness to compromise his faith in Christ. As I listened, I was impacted and challenged beyond words. I was reminded of what real Christianity is all about. I was convicted afresh with the question: Am I willing to give everything to Jesus Christ, no matter what it costs?
God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew
As American Christians, how often do we take the Word of God for granted? This is the powerful true account of a man who risked his life time and time again to smuggle Bibles to Christians who had no access to the Holy Scriptures. The stories of pastors who grasped the illegal Bibles with tears of gratitude running down their faces, and Christians who were willing to risk prison and torture for the privilege of owning a Bible, reminded me how truly priceless the Word of God is. It challenged me to treasure God’s Word as my most precious possession and reminded me that this Book is truly worth fighting for.
Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose
All I can say is “Wow!” to this remarkable account of a young woman missionary who was taken prisoner by the Japanese during World War II. In the face of death, torture, and widowhood, Darlene continued to place all her hope, faith, and security in Christ. He was the anchor of her soul, giving her peace and joy even in the most dire of circumstances. This book challenged me to freshly surrender everything to the One who gave everything for me, knowing that in all situations, His grace is sufficient.
Peace Child by Don Richardson
This is the true story of how the Gospel of Jesus Christ penetrated one of the darkest places in history. A young missionary couple risked everything to bring truth to headhunters in the dangerous jungles of New Guinea – a place where betrayal and butchery was esteemed as the highest form of heroism. This story clearly portrays the power of the Gospel to change even the most seemingly “unreachable” people in the world and shows the miraculous protection and provision of God toward the missionaries who risked their lives for the sake of the lost. This story challenged me afresh with the question: Will you go anywhere for Jesus, no matter what the cost? In addition, this book is a profound meditation upon the birth of Jesus Christ, as the missionaries use a key part of the native’s culture – the offering of a “peace child” as a sacrifice to make wrongs right – to communicate the Good News to those who have never heard.
It may not seem very “Christmasy” to read about Christians suffering for their faith or missionaries laboring to bring the Gospel to cannibals in the jungles of New Guinea. But when you stop to think about it, those stories are far more in line with the true meaning of Christmas than any holiday special on TV The message of Christmas is simple and powerful: Jesus Christ gave everything for us. The least we can do is give everything to Him in return. In the hustle and bustle of gifts and celebrations, may we never forget that it’s really all about Him. Christmas should not be merely about remembering what He did for us. Rather, it should prompt us to consecrate our lives to Him afresh. Is not the Lamb who was slain worthy to receive the reward of His suffering?