I AM A CHRISTIAN, but we Christians do not do evil,» repeated the young woman Blandina, speaking to the consciences of the Roman soldiers who were tearing apart her body, but were not able to break her faith. It was the year 172 in the city of Lyons, which today is in France and was then Roman territory under the control of Marcus Aurelius. Those were the days of persecution of Christianity by the Roman Empire.
Blandina was thrown every day into the amphitheater at Lyon to make her renounce her faith as she saw the martyrdom that her fellow Christians suffered. Her weak body was jailed, lashed, martyred, and taken to a final spectacle where she was first fastened to a red-hot metal chair, then tied to a post and gored by a bull. However, in spite of all the efforts to break her, nothing was able to get Blandina to deny her faith. On the contrary, she encouraged other Christians who died before she did so that they remained firm in their last moments. Her persecutors, not knowing what else to do with her, finally decided to decapitate her. A voice for Christianity was thus extinguished in France.
Many centuries have gone by, but they have not been enough to silence or erase the footsteps left in history by the martyrs who died for not denying Christ. Their story of faith, love, and devotion is a source of inspiration for us today.
We read in The Great Controversy: «The confession of faith made by saints and martyrs was recorded for the benefit of succeeding generations. Those living examples of holiness and steadfast integrity have come down to inspire courage in those who are now called to stand as witnesses for God. They received grace and truth, not for themselves alone, but that, through them, the knowledge of God might enlighten the earth. Has God given light to His servants in this generation? Then they should let it shine forth to the world» (ch. 26, p. 459).
You and I are that «succeeding generation» that can find strength and hope in the biographies of those men and women who bravely faced martyrdom. I encourage you to read them for your spiritual growth and to derive spiritual strength for your own struggles of faith from those examples of integrity.
«Through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day» (1 Peter 1:5, NLT).