You expect to hear about persecution in North Korea or Iran, but it was surprising to discover two American missionaries dead in Jamaica this past weekend.
Harold Nichols and Randy Hentzel died exalting the Christ they served. The duo went out on a trail in the Albion Mountain area Saturday, according to the Jamaica Observer.
"Reports from the St. Mary police are that the two men rented motorcycles in Ocho Rios and went on the trail," the paper reports. "Residents stumbled on Hentzel's body after 12:00 p.m., and the police were summoned."
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"Deputy Superintendent of Police Dwight Powell said Hentzel's body was found face down with his hands bound with a piece of cloth believed to be torn from his shirt. One of the motorcycles was seen beside his body," the Jamaica Observer continues. "The second motorcycle was found approximately three chains away. However, there was no sign of the second missionary."
Nichols was found a day later with his head bashed in. The men of God had been making missions trips to Jamaica for 14 years and were known for their home Bible studies and outreach to children as well as for building homes for indigenous people.
The motive for the violent murders is yet unknown. Unfortunately, missionary deaths are not uncommon. All told, at least 105,000 people die each year because they believe in Jesus Christ, according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
That's about one Christian every five seconds—and that doesn't even include accidental deaths. We're talking about martyrs here, people who died for the cause of Christ.
This shouldn't surprise us. 2 Timothy 3:12 tells us, "Yes, and all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."
Of course, persecution is one thing. Having your life in this age taken away is another. Still, Jesus told us, "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt. 10:28).
The reality is thousands of Christians die standing for the gospel every year. These are true martyrs—and it's a true privilege to live and die for the Lord. Jesus said whoever loses his life for His sake will find it (Matt. 10:39). Most of us will probably never have to die for what we believe, but we should be willing to lose our lives.
As for Hentzel, Nichols and the 100,000-plus who give up the ghost for the gospel every year, they will ultimately be vindicated. But there will also be more martyrs. Revelation 6:9-11 spells it out:
"When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony they had held. They cried out with a loud voice, 'How long, O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?' Then a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers should be completed, who would be killed as they were."
We can pray for the comfort of Hentzel's and Nichols' families. We can pray for the persecuted church. And we should. But ultimately, we can't pray away end-time prophecy. We should not seek martyrdom, for that is seeking our own glory, but we should be willing to glorify God with our lives even unto death.
Jennifer LeClaire is senior leader of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, founder of the Ignite Network and founder of the Awakening Blaze prayer movement. She is author of over 25 books. Find her online at jenniferleclaire.org or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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