During our mid-week services at St. Luke's, I will use a book called "Lesser Feasts and Fasts", which examines the lives of saints throughout the centuries. Each saint has his or her own collect, propers and a brief biography. This slim volume is an excellent resource for anyone interested in church history. We read stories about early church martyrs and influential teachers and bishops who changed the religious landscape of their countries. Two of my heroes - Charles Simeon (November 12) and John Wesley (March 3) - are in LFF.
There are many poignant stories, such as how young priests under the tutelage of Simeon, left the comforts of Cambridge and Eton in order to go some South Sea island or Africa. Then, within a few months or years they were killed for the sake of the gospel. Yesterday, March 7th, was Perpetua and her companions, martyrs at Carthage in 202. These women were killed in a dramatic and violent manner for refusing to retreat from their faith in the Lord Jesus.
I used to think that this was not right - what was accomplished by "throwing away" a life like that? Gradually, I realized that a Christian's life is not measured in years but in faithfulness. The saints would go to some far off place and be murdered, but in the way they died the people saw in them something which they had never seen before.
The missionaries who came after them were the ones who could actually do the work of bringing people to Christ because of the witness of those deaths. These saints had short lives but they made a difference. So, when you and I are not afraid of putting our lives on the line, when we are not afraid of situations which may cause us trouble or stress, and when we realize that the Holy Spirit is at work in us, then we are capable of doing what others would not dare to do. That is really quite extraordinary!