A Martyr's Grace: Stories of Those Who Gave All for Christ and His Cause [NOOK Book]


"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 ...

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

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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 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 to bring the gospel to those in need. 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 revealed the character of 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 served. 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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781575676036
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/1/2006
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • File size: 2 MB

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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A Martyr's Grace

stories of those who gave all for Christ and His cause

By Marvin J. Newell, Pam Pugh

Moody Publishers

Copyright © 2006 Marvin J. Newell
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-57567-603-6


Bonnie Penner Witherall

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

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 disadvantaged pregnant 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, Wash-ington, 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 it! 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.


Hattie J . Rice

"Salt of the earth"

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 born 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.

The Boxer Uprising

All was going well until the spring of 1900. At that time political events came to a crisis in China. A combination of several factors, including unfair treaties imposed by foreign powers, extreme famine caused by prolonged drought, and preferences granted to Chinese converts to Christianity and foreign Christians, fueled widespread discontent among the populace. A militant group called Boxers United in Righteousness (originally called the Spirit Boxers) took it upon themselves to react by righting the wrongs imposed upon the Chinese citizenry. They particularly singled out foreign missionaries and Chinese Christians as their victims. The Boxers fomented mass panic and hysteria by propagating unfounded charges that the Christians and foreigners were responsible for drought-induced deaths and environmental destruction. They circulated anti-missionary rumors that these foreigners engaged in such horrendous crimes as kidnapping children, immorality, licentiousness, sorcery, and the poisoning of wells.


Excerpted from A Martyr's Grace by Marvin J. Newell, Pam Pugh. Copyright © 2006 Marvin J. Newell. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
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.

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Table of Contents




Serving in
1. Bonnie Witherall--"This is My doing" / 17

2. Hattie J. Rice--"Salt of the earth" / 27
3. Josephine Elizabeth Desmond--"It is such a joy" / 35
4. Eleanor E. Chestnut, M.D.--"I am so fond of the people" / 43
5. Robert Elias Blomdahl--"We must be faithful" / 51
6. Gustaf David Nathaniel Tornvall--"Made in China" / 55
7. John Cornelius Stam--"Whether by life or by death" / 63
8. Betty Alden Stam--"To live is Christ" / 75
9. Esther Victoria Nordlund--"The mission work is dear to my heart" / 87

10. Ella Mary Schenck--"That which our lives cannot do..." / 95
11. Hulda Jane Stumpf--"On bended knee and with heart bowed to God" / 103
12. Lucia Hammond Cozzens--"The great privilege that is mine" / 111
13. Mary Elizabeth Baker--"Settled long ago" / 117
14. Stanley Gordon Ridgway--"Jesus will make it all right"' / 127

15. Erle Frederick Rounds--"We can meet again" / 137
16. Signe Amelia Erickson--"I have been charmed with the people" / 145
17. Alfonso Gaspar Taqueban Makil--"Few have ever heard of Christ. I must go." / 151

18. Arthur Francis Tylee--"I am in the will of God" / 161
19. Mildred Pauline Kratz--"Faithful and dependable" / 171
20. Karl Bregenzer--"Somehow His name will be glorified" / 177
21. Ancel Edwin Allen--"Why This Waste?" / 185



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