Modern day martyrs
St Stephen is the protomartyr of the Christian faith: he was the first person to be persecuted and die for his faith in salvation through Jesus Christ.
It is a story which we should consider to be consigned to history. But it isn't.
Christianity is the world's most persecuted religion. The current crisis in Iraq is the prime example of this. In a few months the Nineveh plains have been cleared of Christians, people who have lived and worked and worshipped here since the very start of Christianity. Two thousand years of living in one of the world's more volatile regions did not destroy this people or their faith, but a savage militia, in 2014, backed by local popular support, has achieved one of the greatest acts of ethnic cleansing the world has seen. One million people removed; their architecture, their physical presence, erased from the land too.
Luckily many of these people have escaped with their lives, but there are plenty of tales of loss either at the hand of the Islamic terrorist groups and their supporters, or on the road fleeing from them. These are our modern day St Stephens; our martyrs of the 21st century.
As Christians across the world, we must continue to remember those who are martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ, and work to support those who strive to keep the faith in even the most persecuted parts of the world.
'Why should we stay here and die for our faith, whilst the West sits by and watches?' It is a question we must ask ourselves, and show our brothers and sisters in Iraq that we are doing more than watching.
Image Copyright Al Qurtas News, 26th July 2014