"By faith... others experienced mockings and scourgings..." I once met a man who was hog-tied and hung from a tree. His elders dipped him in the river and beat him with a cane. They demanded that he recant, and if he didn't they'd tie a millstone to his feet, baptize him once and for all. He held to his confession so the accusers left him for dead, left him as easy pickings for the hyenas. If you ask him his story, he'll tell you of faithfulness. Faith is a river, he'll say.
"...yes, also chains and imprisonment..."
He was a long-haired hippy, a child of the earth with a clear understanding of redemption theology. He smuggled bibles into the eastern block back before the wall came tumbling down. He was arrested, threatened under a heat lamp, burned with cigarette butts. His wife, a twenty year old peace-child, believed herself to be widowed on more than one occasion. If you ask them their story, they'll tell you of white-hot faithfulness.
"...They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword..."
By now, we've all seen the video footage. Bearded man. Boot knife or scimitar. Kneeling believer commanded to recant. Heads roll. You know that story. Faith runs red, like spilled blood.
There is a quieter type of belief, one not splashed across the pages of books or websites. It's accused, beaten, jailed, and ultimately put to the sword. There are workers in these fields who can't blog, tweet, or update statuses for security reasons, but they hang in the war zones, living out lives of relative obscurity.
They are my heroes.
**All quotes taken from Hebrews 11:32-39