Perpetua, a 22 year old mother of an infant son who had given her life to Christ, lived in Carthage, North Africa around 202 AD. At that time the emperor ordered anyone who converted to Christianity must be persecuted. Perpetua had not kept her faith a secret and was thrown in prison. Her father begged her to renounce her faith and when he could not convince her to, he brought her hungry baby to her. Not even her nursing son could keep her from renouncing her faith. She had to give her son to her family to raise as she knew she would be killed for her faith. She told her family
“This will be done on the scaffold which God has willed; for I know that we have not been placed in our own power but in God’s.”
The next day she was tortured by a “mad heifer” in the arena for the entertainment of a large crowd. When the torture became too much for the crowd to endure they began chanting, “Enough”. She was then taken to the executioner but on her way she told her grieving Christian friends
“Give out the Word to the brothers and sisters; stand fast in the faith, love one another, and don’t let our suffering become a stumbling block to you.”
The gladiator charged with beheading her, missed his first time! She yelled in pain, took the gladiator’s hand and directed the sword to her throat. Wow, what courage this young woman had!
I read this true story in the book From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya a Biographical History of Christian Missions; required reading for our mission organization. I have to admit, I was a little overwhelmed at reading such a large book (482 pages) but I have been amazed and humbled by the sacrifices that people have made for the spread of the gospel and I am only on page 132! Would I have been able to do what she did and with her attitude? As I (Dana) continue on this journey to Africa, God is asking me to make sacrifices for Him. How far am I really willing to go for Him to see the nations reached with the Good News of Jesus Christ? I wonder what encouragement and conviction await in my next chapter? Hmm….and I wonder what my personal story tells others…