Raised in a nominally Christian home, I found it easy to reject my faith when it came time to declare myself. But, as I later learned, my rejection was out of ignorance. Some years later, as the returned prodigal and a new parent, I was surprised to come across some Christian children's literature that looked very familiar.
Shopping for edifying material for my daughters, I discovered Arch Books, a series of square, staple-bound volumes of Bible stories for children. Suddenly I remembered the three my grandmother had given me as a child: the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, and the Rich Fool.
What rocked me in that store was not that I remembered so vividly each illustration and word, but that these stories had penetrated so deeply. I knew without doubt that these illustrated parables had formed my foundational notions about love, grace, giving, God, the role of money, and more. I bought several volumes for my daughters.
I suspect it is this type of encounter with stories that Susan Bergman has in mind when she opens our cover feature (see "In the Shadow of the Martyrs," p. 18) by recounting her memory of a narrative she heard in church of a Chinese child who forsook life for faith. Something sharp entered her young mind and changed her: That is what faith is. That is what faith costs. That is how seriously I am to take my relationship with God.
Bergman's article is about integrating this story and the others like it into her adult life.
And it is precisely this kind of story--about martyrs and about suffering--that the American church most needs to hear.
At CT we have again and again been struck by how our brothers and sisters in other countries handle persecution and suffering. They fight it, but they also accept it as part ...1
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