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Martyr's Grace: Stories of Those Who Gave All For Christ and His Cause
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Martyr's Grace: Stories of Those Who Gave All For Christ and His Cause

by Marvin J. Newell
 

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"Have you grace to be a martyr?" D.L. Moody was once asked.

"No," he replied, "I have not. But if God wanted me to be one, he would give me a martyr's grace."

They came from around the world. Administrators, teachers, doctors and nurses, church planters and pilots. Regular people in the prime of

Overview

"Have you grace to be a martyr?" D.L. Moody was once asked.

"No," he replied, "I have not. But if God wanted me to be one, he would give me a martyr's grace."

They came from around the world. Administrators, teachers, doctors and nurses, church planters and pilots. Regular people in the prime of life.

United by their love for Christ and their studies at the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, these twenty-one men and women set out with the gospel. From the jungles of South America to the parched African plain, and from the dark cloud of communist China to the dangers of the Middle East, they displayed God through service and love.

In A Martyr’s Grace, Marvin Newell tells the individual stories of these faithful men and women who made a difference in the places they served. He also describes—in many cases for the very first time—how Jesus called them home. Their legacies live on in the rainforests, villages, churches, and cities where they died.

What is it that compels ordinary people to sacrifice their lives in this way? Only Christ. They didn’t go expecting to die. But they went—having already given their lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802478290
Publisher:
Moody Publishers
Publication date:
10/01/2006
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt



A MARTYR'S GRACE



By Marvin J. Newell


Moody Publishers


Copyright © 2006

Marvin J. Newell

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8024-7829-8




Chapter One


Bonnie Penner Witherall

"Help me to remember these four words: 'This is My doing'"

Born: October 12,1971, California

Nationality: American

Graduated from Moody: 2000

Country of Service: Lebanon

Mission: OM/Christian & Missionary Alliance

Ministry: Clinic worker

Martyrdom: 2002, age 31, Sidon

Bonnie is the latest, but almost certainly not to be the final, martyr
of Moody Bible Institute. She was an energetic, full-of-life, risk-taking
woman who loved God and loved showing His love to the unloved. But
Bonnie was more than a martyr. She was a living example of how God
can take a young life and mold it over time into one fully surrendered
to Him, making it a delight to Himself and to others.

Bonnie walked and talked with God. Not that she was perfect, as
her husband, Gary, would attest. She was a woman who over time
learned to commune with God. She recorded her conversations with
Him in a journal. Through it they talked back and forth with each
other-like God desires all His children to do.

Total Abandon

Bonnie may well have been talking to God on that fateful
November 2002 morning as she walked from her seaside apartment
to the prenatal clinic where she cared for disadvantagedpregnant
women. She could have been so caught up with God's presence that
she was unaware of being followed by a gunman who was intent on
taking her life.

Arriving at her destination, she stepped up to the entrance, turned
a key, and gained entry to the small Christian complex that housed a
chapel and clinic. This Christian outpost was centered in the midst of
an overwhelmingly Muslim majority population and served the disadvantaged.
Displaced, expectant Palestinian mothers especially took
advantage of the clinic's prenatal services. Loving care rarely found
anywhere else, but provided by Bonnie along with two other staff
members, drew these women to the clinic.

Bonnie and Gary knew they were living and ministering in a cutting-edge,
high-risk corner of God's harvest field. They lived next to an
area so fanatical and violent that it was off-limits even to the local
police. Their surroundings were a stark contrast from where they had
come.

Two years earlier they had chosen to leave their comfortable
American lifestyle in Portland, Oregon, to minister on the bleeding
edge of humanity where nothing was certain except violence and
great spiritual need. They did not go in ignorance. They knew the risk
and understood the potential cost, but went anyway. They were certain
God had called them there. They were totally abandoned to His
will.

Bonnie now passed along the side of the chapel and then climbed
a set of stairs leading to the second-floor clinic. Turning a second key,
she entered the clinic's main room. It was then that she realized
someone was behind her. As she turned to greet the person she
expected to be her first patient of the day, three shots rang out.
Bullets fired at point-blank range struck her squarely in the head.
Instantly her body fell to the floor. Streams of blood flowed from her
wounds. Her spirit soared into her Savior's presence. She was now
with her closest Friend.

Bonnie had not always experienced an intimate walk with God.
Like a blossoming flower, her relationship with God was one that
developed and grew over time until reaching full bloom.

Growing Up in the Northwest

Born in northern California, she was raised in Vancouver, Washington,
where her father worked for an oil company and delighted in
raising his family on a quaint hillside farm. In this idyllic setting
Bonnie Penner grew up riding horses, walking fields, watching stars,
and sledding across the frozen pond. In this environment she developed
into a strong-spirited girl who did not shy away from adventure.

Blessed with loving parents, she learned early about God's provision
of a Savior. One Sunday morning after church when Bonnie was
ten years old, her mother led as she placed her trust in Christ.

However, Bonnie was a strong-willed child, and there were many
times as a teenager when her willfulness got her into trouble. She was
sensitive enough toward the feelings of others, though, that if she
knew she had hurt or offended someone, she would ask forgiveness
and make things right. She went through emotional highs and lows
and spiritual ups and downs, but was learning to let God have His
way. God's molding was refining her stubborn, willful character.

Preparation and Life Partner

Following high school Bonnie placed herself in another of God's
molds-training at the Moody Bible Institute. A few months of study
with Torchbearers in southern Germany helped her gain a deeper
appreciation for God and His Word. Moody became her school of
choice for further learning and character shaping.

Not all was smooth sailing at Moody. While there she experienced
struggles with doubt and rebellion that brought her close to jettisoning
her relationship with God altogether.

In the end, though the process was excruciating, God won her
heart. Totally surrendered from that point on, she never questioned
God's plan for her and His presence in her life.

It was then that she began her regular intimate times with God:

Father, I want most of all to be completely surrendered to You. Lord, more
than anything I need Your fellowship ... If there is something in my life
that is keeping me from experiencing You in a deeper way, forgive me. I
need You. Lord, create in me a clean heart. Reveal to me even now where
I need to change to be more like You!

In a beautiful wedding, Bonnie was married to classmate Gary
Witherall in 1997. Despite a happy marriage and successful professional
careers in Portland for both of them over the next three years,
the mission-trained couple was feeling dissatisfied and out of place.
They had it all-money, cars, a house-but keenly felt the emptiness
of the secular mold into which the world had squeezed them. Surely
God had more in store for them than this.

They began searching out ministry possibilities, but they became
frustrated over several overseas ministry options they pursued that
never panned out. Finally one day while on her knees pleading with
God, Bonnie distinctly felt Him say to her, I have not called you to a
place; I have called you to Myself
. That realization made all the difference
in the world. She and Gary were now completely surrendered to
whatever possibility God had for them. Bonnie could now write in her
journal:

I don't know what God has for us, but I want to be available to go....
I feel like God has me blindfolded and is leading me along a path I don't
quite understand. But I will follow Him.

Sidon, Lebanon

Not long afterward, Bonnie and Gary became convinced that God
was pointing them to Sidon, Lebanon. In obedience, they quit their
jobs, sold their possessions, packed their bags, said their good-byes,
and were off to that Mediterranean port city. Operation Mobilization
in partnership with the Christian and Missionary Alliance had a
strategic ministry waiting for them:

Lord, here we are in the Middle East. How many people will die in this
city of Sidon today without knowing You? How can I worry about my life
or Gary's life when tens of thousands of people may die and face eternal
damnation today? Lord, my life is already hidden with You. I know You.
I have the truth. There is nothing they can take from me!

In September 2001 Bonnie started working at the prenatal clinic.
She struggled with God about her new job and her long desire to have
her own baby.

Dear Lord, I want to first of all thank You for helping me yesterday at the
clinic. I was nervous because it was my first day, but I thank You because
You gave me the courage and the strength to do fit. God, I just want to
surrender all my plans to You today. I want to give You the complete,
utter control in my life. I want to lift You high above all else.

Five months later, Bonnie's walk with the Lord and fellowship with
Him was deepening.

Still wrestling with the disappointment of not being pregnant,
Bonnie could still say to Him:

God, You are the Lord of our circumstances. We did not come to Lebanon
by accident-we are exactly where You meant for us to be. Lord, I want
to worship You in the place where You've put me today. Help me to
remember these four words: "This is My doing."

Then as summer came, Bonnie radiantly announced to Gary that
she was pregnant! Her heart was filled with inexpressible joy. What
she had waited for so long was now to be a reality. She was going to
have a baby! Bonnie began buying baby clothes and making all those
preparations expectant mothers do before their child arrives. Since
she worked at a prenatal clinic, she would compare notes about body
changes and morning sickness with the others.

Disappointment and Death

But then gladness turned to sudden sadness when in August her
dreams were dashed with a miscarriage. Divine molding, though
painful, continued to do its work. That devastating disappointment
brought the ever-trusting Bonnie into deeper fellowship with her
God:

God, I know that You love me and I know that everything that happens
in our lives is for our good. God, You alone know how much I wanted this
baby. Thank You, Lord, that Your ways are perfect and that You love and
care for me so much. God, I want to trust You again for another child.
God, I want Your will to be accomplished in my life, not my own. It still
hurts, God, not to have this baby, but I know it was the best for Gary and
me. I want to thank You for Your mercy and kindness. Even though at the
time I don't recognize it as Your mercy, I know You love us and the last
thing You want to do is hurt us. God, help me to trust You. Help me to
draw close to You during this time.

At a time when many would have cracked, questioned, quit, or
turned their backs on God, Bonnie drew ever closer to her intimate
friend. He alone understood and could bring comfort.

Two months later, just days before her life was taken, Bonnie
reflected on the importance of the unconditional love she was asked
to give day after day at the clinic. She reminds all who would serve
God by serving the poor and the weak and the oppressed with the
thought:

Jesus says to us that when we give a cup of water to "the least of these"
we do it unto Him. Every time someone at the clinic asks me for a cup of
water I give it to them, knowing I'm giving it to someone Jesus loves and
cares for.

Bonnie died on that cold cement floor in a pool of blood while
giving that cup of love.

Lasting Impact

Since Bonnie's death, Gary has been speaking powerfully
throughout North America and Europe. He is seeking one thousand
students who will become missionaries-one thousand who will fill
Bonnie's shoes. After speaking in two chapel services at Moody in
December 2002, dozens of students packed the front of Torrey-Gray
auditorium to surrender themselves anew to Christ and His cause. At
Nyack College in February 2003, the stage set up in Bowman Gym
became an altar flooded with students surrendering themselves to
devotion and service to Christ. This same kind of impact is being
repeated again and again as Gary continues to speak in schools,
churches, and youth groups, telling Bonnie's story.

To those who would ponder her selfless example, Bonnie has left
a lasting challenge from her journal:

Dear Jesus, Today I read in Your Word about loving our enemies. God,
we have so many enemies these days.... In Romans 12 You tell us not
to repay anyone evil for evil, but rather to be careful to do what is right
in the eyes of everybody. To live at peace with all men.


Chapter Two


Hattie J. Rice

"Salt of the earth"

Born: 1858, Haydenville, Massachusetts

Nationality: American

Graduated from Moody: 1892

Country of Service: China

Mission: China Inland Mission

Ministry: Bible teaching/drug rehabilitation

Martyrdom: 1900, age 42, Kao-ping, Shanxi province

As Hattie trudged barefoot and half-naked in the intense July
heat, it may have dawned on her that her flight for life could end in
death. Because she was starved, dehydrated, and in a state of perpetual
thirst, her resolve surely wore down with every painful step her
blistered feet took. She never would have thought that the people she
had come to love and serve would turn so violent and cruel-treating
her and her fleeing companions worse than animals. Yet, the poison
of the Boxers had agitated the Chinese populace into such frenzy that
there remained no place of refuge for her or any foreigner in the
north-central province of Shanxi. Totally exhausted, Hattie thought
she would not be able to bear up under any additional hardship. But
the worst was yet to come. What a contrast the end of her life was
from the beginning.

New England Upbringing

Hattie was horn in 1858 in the rolling hills of western
Massachusetts. The picturesque village of Haydenville where she grew
up was nestled in some of the loveliest hill country in New England.
As they do now, people in the 1800s would come from distances to
enjoy the beautiful fall foliage of the area. It was in this setting that
Hattie was nurtured in a warm Christian home. Attending the town's
Congregational church with her family, she learned early her need for
a Savior.

Following graduation from high school, Hattie became a schoolteacher.
She took a position at the Haydenville public school and soon
gained the reputation of being a loving, caring teacher. Her strong
Christian character made her a positive role model for her students.

It was while she was teaching that she learned about evangelist
D. L. Moody, whose fame was growing. She also heard about the two
schools he had recently founded, Northfield and Mount Hermon, not
more than thirty miles from her home. In 1886 Mr. Moody invited college
students from around the country for a twenty-six-day training
conference at Mount Hermon. From this group the Holy Spirit called
one hundred to declare in writing their intent to give themselves
to world evangelization. Branded the "Mount Hermon 100," they
became the impetus for the formation of the Student Volunteer
Movement two years later.

That was when Hattie showed up at the annual conference. In
1888 she attended the Northfield Convention where she heard
Moody and other well-known speakers teach and preach on the spiritual
need of the world. Hudson Taylor was one of the speakers, giving
a passionate plea for the unreached millions of China. His appeal
so gripped Hattie that she went back to her home a changed woman.
She now had no other desire but to follow God's call to China.

Obstacles and Preparation

Back in Haydenville, Hattie encountered obstacle after obstacle
that threw her into times of discouragement. On the one hand, she
continued in her teaching role that she loved so much, but on the
other, she continued to feel keenly God's call to China. Yet she did
not have the means or opportunity to go to college for the training
needed. It was at this time of crisis that a friend came to her and suggested
she attend Moody's Bible school in Chicago. She was even
given the assurance that her church would provide the necessary
means of making her education possible. Hattie was delighted and
now confident that her calling would be realized. She resigned her
position and made plans to go to Moody's school. In a letter of recommendation
to the school, H. G. Smith, the clerk of her church,
summed up her reputation by stating, "She is a lady of most estimable
Christian character and one of whom it can truthfully be said is 'the
salt of the earth.'"

Hattie entered Moody Bible Institute (then called Chicago Bible
Institute) in September 1890. She spent the next year and a half training
to be a missionary, graduating in March of 1892. On her record
the summary evaluation of her time at Moody succinctly stated that
she was "Sensible. Faithful. Devoted. Will make an excellent missionary."
How prophetic those words were to be.

Having completed her studies at Moody, she left for Toronto to
await appointment under the China Inland Mission (CIM). After visiting
family and friends and gaining the support of her Haydenville
church, she sailed for China in December of 1892.

First Years in China

Hattie arrived in Shanghai in early 1893. She began her missionary
career in the city of Yang-chau, where she studied the language
and culture of the Chinese people. Following that, she was assigned
to the CIM work at Lu-ch'eng, Shanxi province. Along with her
coworkers, the Lawsons, and another single woman, Mary Huston, the
work was able to expand.

(Continues...)





Excerpted from A MARTYR'S GRACE
by Marvin J. Newell
Copyright © 2006 by Marvin J. Newell.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

D. L. Moody wrote: "If we live for God we must suffer persecution.  The kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light are at war...As long as the kingdom of darkness is permitted to exist, there will be a conflict, and...if you want to be popular in heaven, and het a reward that shall last forever, you will have to by unpopular here."  Moody Bible Institute has a history of training and equipping soldiers to enter into the kingdom of darkness and fight for the souls of man.  In Marvin Newell's A Martyr's Grace, you will read about twenty-one Moody students who were found "unpopular" among militants, combatants, guerillas, rebels, extremists, communists, and bandits, all because they chose to engage in the battle for souls in God's kingdom.  After reading their stories of relentless courage and resolve in the face of death, you will be challenged and inspired to live a life engaged in the same battle and consider it an honor to fight alongside others who are "unpopular."
-Tom White, Executive Director, The Voice of the Martyrs, USA

Missionaries have been described as ordinary people with an extraordinary calling.  Dr. Newell's compelling research of these who were called to martyrdom is both inspiring and instructive.  Each step of obedience these servants took brought them closer to God until one day--quite unexpectedly in most cases--they found themselves in His very presence.  Our call into ministry is not without cost.  Some in our churches today must answer the call to the hard places.  I highly recommend this book as an excellent way to enrich our understanding of being called into missionary service.  I am looking forward to the day when there will be no need for a martyr's grace, but until that day comes, these stories powerfully demonstrate God's faithfulness to those He called to martyrdom.
-Dr. Mike McDowell, Mission Pastor, Christ Community Church--Zion, IL

Psalm 46:10 reads, in part: "Cease striving and know that I am God's."  A Martyr's Grace stops us in our tracks as we reflect on brothers and sisters in Christ who were called upon to give their all.  Story after story draws the reader to consider afresh what God calls us to do, and what we as leaders are calling others into.  The lives detailed here resonate with the rest of Psalm 46:10: "I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth."  In the end, it is God who is calling and we don't know where that might lead.  We do know that ultimately, it will end with him.
-Rev. Greg H. Parsons, General Director, USCWM

In Africa, I stood before hallowed soil at the grave markers of missionaries, some of whom had died violently for the cause of Christ.  I was sobered and at the same time motivated in my own service to Christ.  Dr. Newell's work serves as an importnat marker to remember and honor some of those who experienced A Martyr's Grace.  This book is carefully researched with grace, and Dr. Newell in his telling of the stories has preserved the dignity of those who suffered under brutal hands.  In their own words taken from their letters and journals, the missionaries' thoughts and motives ring clear.  Loss for Christ is always gain.
-Dr. John H. Orme, Executive Director, IFMA--Wheaton, IL

This is a very unusual and challenging book.  It will not be easy to read, especially in this day of so much shallow commitment to the Lord.  These are people who truly gave their all and we can learn so much from them.
-George Verwer, Operation Mobilization

In reading this book, I was struck again by how "ordinary" these martyrs were.  Yes, many had outstanding abilities and displayed mature Christian character even during their school years, but, as the author points out, no one would have picked them out during their days at Moody as future martyrs. Yet, as martyrs, most of the people Marvin Newell writes about had an incredible impact on the kingdom of God.  The martyrdom of Arthur Tylee and Mildred Kratz was the event that most shaped South America (Indian) Mission for two decades after their death and still has an impact on us today. Their story, along with that of the nineteen other "Moody Martyrs" will encourage you to entrust your life to God and allow Him to use you for His glory as He chooses.
-Bill Ogden, Executive Director, South America Mission

Will the 21st century witness many martyrs for Christ?  Will North American Christians suffer persecution in great gospel advance?  Signs point that way.  Marv Newell's inspiring collection of Moody Bible Institute students who've suffered martyrs' deaths while on mission for Christ will provide wisdom for the future by looking to the past.  Moody grads, missionaries, and all believers will be blessed to consider afresh the cost of the cross for 21st century faith.
-Jim O'Neill, President, CrossWorld 

Meet the Author


MARV NEWELL (D. Miss. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is the Executive Director of CrossGlobal Link (formerly IFMA). Prior to that he was professor of Missions and Intercultural Studies at the Moody Theological Seminary in Chicago and he currently still serves as an adjunct professor. Previously, he and his wife, Peggy, served as missionaries for 21 years with TEAM, first as field missionaries in Papua (Irian Jaya), Indonesia and then Marv served as Asia-Pacific Regional Director. He is author of A Martyr's Grace: Stories of Those Who Gave All for Christ and His Cause. Marv has also written Commissioned ¿ What Jesus Wants You To Know As You Go (2010).

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