As Christians, we have all pondered what our response would be if faced with a life or death choice to be true to our faith in Jesus and die, or deny Him and live. It’s impossible to read the Book of Acts and witness the unwavering martyrdom of James the Son of Zebedee and Stephen and not wonder if we would be so bold and firm in our faith when faced with such a choice.
This week we were given a rare modern example of the power of Jesus Christ and faith in the brave death of our Christian brother James Foley at the hands of ISIS terrorists. Mr. Foley was a devout Catholic and knew that only through prayer could he find the strength and courage to put himself in the midst of chaos and war. During his 45-day captivity in Libya it was reported that:
“Prayer, it turned out, was central to Foley’s survival. He’d pray the rosary…he asked his Lord to deliver him from this very present evil. After a few days in jail, he recalled hearing a knocking on the wall of his cell. He put his ear to a wall socket and heard the muffled voice of a detained American contractor, who read to him from the Book of Matthew and asked that they pray together.
“In a very calm voice, he’d read me Scripture once or twice a day,” Foley reported. “Then I’d pray to stay strong. I’d pray to soften the hearts of our captors. I’d pray to God to lift the burdens we couldn’t handle. And I’d pray that our Moms would know we were OK.”
This peace and strength in the face of such immeasurable evil is surely supernatural. Only God can pour that much mercy and grace into a hopeless situation and bring someone out of such darkness.
When I watched the video of James Foley in the moments before his captors brutally beheaded him, I saw a man totally at peace and confident in his destination. He did not cry, he did not beg for mercy, he did not curse his captors. He was peaceful because his eyes were on Jesus.
I pray that I should be so bold every day, without a knife held to my throat, to proclaim the victory that Jesus won for each and every one of us. God bless James Foley for his amazing example of courage and absolute reliance on God.