Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 4, 2010

The Son of the Martyr

The seventh chapter of Acts records the account of the death of Stephen, an early Christian stoned to death by an angry mob. Just before he died, Stephen “gazed into heaven” and saw “Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55). The Bible makes it clear that after completing His redemptive work and returning to heaven, Jesus “sat” at the right hand of the heavenly Father. However, when Stephen died, Luke recorded that Jesus was “standing” — perhaps to welcome Stephen, the first of many martyrs, home.

Martyrdom is not a thing of the past. Since the time of Stephen, many faithful Christ-followers have paid the ultimate price for their devotion to Christ. More Christians were martyred in the twentieth century than in the previous nineteen centuries combined. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and the more recently published Jesus Freaks record the moving accounts of these individuals of whom the world was not worthy (Heb. 11:38). By some estimates, 100 million Christians around the world are currently suffering some form of persecution for their faith — from abuse, imprisonment, and hostilities to death.

Bill Hyde

While visiting Cambodia last year, I met Steve Hyde. Steve is the Director of Asia for Jesus, a dynamic ministry that is sowing seeds of life throughout the land of Pol Pot’s former killing fields. But, Steve is also the son of a martyr. Steve’s father, Bill, was martyred on March 4, 2003. Bill and his wife Lyn served as Southern Baptist missionaries in Davao City on the southern island of Mindanao. They trained national Christians to plant churches in remote Muslim villages. Over their years of service among Muslims, Bill received many death threats. However, these threats did not deter him from traveling to and working in some of the most dangerous places in the Philippines.

Seven years ago today, Bill went to the small airport outside of Davao City to pick up fellow missionaries who were returning from Manila. While at the airport, members of one of Mindanao’s Muslim rebel groups detonated a bomb hidden in an unattended bag. The explosion injured more than one hundred fifty Filipinos and killed twenty-one people – including Bill Hyde. The news devastated Steve. At his father’s funeral in Iowa, Steve spoke about avenging his father’s death, but not in the way in which you might expect. This is what Steve said at his Dad’s funeral service:

“I will avenge my father’s death, but not like the plans of the Evil One. To kill and destroy is easy, but to love your enemy is God’s command. The plans of Jesus are peace and love through the forgiveness of sins. I will go and bring Jesus throughout this evil world and take the light of Jesus into the darkness. Please, all of you whose lives were touched by my father, who were motivated and encouraged by him in church planting, evangelism and the Kingdom of God — please join me in avenging my father’s death. Let us together go into every dark area, those hard to go places, those places that bring fear just by mention of their name. Go, as my father went. My Dad will not be the last martyr, but in the end the Lord Jesus Christ will have the victory. Take the light into the darkness with me.”

After his father’s death, God spoke these words to Steve’s heart: “Son of the martyr, you will follow in your father’s footsteps to bring glory to Me. You are to bring Christ’s love and peace and show sinful people the way to salvation from their sin.” Steve has remained faithful to that call. He and his family returned to the site of the explosion and placed a wreath there. The banner on the wreath said: “From the Bill Hyde family and Americans who love Filipinos and know they are worth dying for.”

Those who sought to silence Bill Hyde’s voice unwittingly amplified it. The men who came to Christ under his ministry continue to plant more than three-hundred churches per year. And, through the outreach of these churches, thousands of people have heard and responded to the message of Jesus Christ every year since Bill’s death. Tertullian was right, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” As for the son of the martyr, God continues to use him to reach thousands throughout Southeast Asia with the love of Jesus Christ.


Responses

  1. Omar C. Garcia
    Steve H.

    I have found Steve’s site and I have been read some of his posts. I learned that, his father ‘Bill H. worked in Philippines and God allowed him to gave His (Bill) life for Him!!

    As you (Omar) mentioned your previous post ’Counting the Cost’’ ultimate price’ for the Lord Jesus Christ!

    We’re seeing that, so many crops grow through the people those people who gave their lives for the Lord. Definately uncountable number of people will hear about Jesus, through Bill’s death.

    Mortuza Biswas
    Bangladesh


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