This, of course, works against the Word of God which nowhere suggests we should be hidden from scrutiny, but rather that we should be known for who we are and the God we represent, even expecting persecution, and, for some, the possibility of martyrdom.
Here is the true story of a real Christian martyr, whose name reverberates today as a true believer with the courage of his cause.
John Williams, Missionary to the South Pacific
On a street adjacent to the road on which we live in North London is a building with a plaque that recognises one of its most famous sons.
Born in 1796, John Williams was an English missionary who served in the South Pacific, where he was eventually martyred after many successful years preaching the gospel.
He was commissioned in 1816 by the London Missionary Society and, with his wife Mary and fellow ministers William Ellis and his wife, journeyed to the Society Islands in the Pacific, which was then a long and arduous voyage with many potential dangers.
The Society Islands include Tahiti, and the Williams’ established their first missionary post on the island of Raiatea, from which they travelled to other Polynesian island chains. They used Tahitian converts to take the gospel into the Cook Islands in 1821, and were part of a sea journey which discovered Rarotonga.
The Williams’ were the first missionary family to visit Samoa. These brave missionaries were never afraid to take their families into even the most dangerous of places because they worked as a unit. John and Mary Williams had ten children, but only three survived to adulthood. They were totally committed to their mission, and they were all part of it.
In 1834 the Williams family returned to Britain where John supervised the printing of his translation of the New Testament into the Rarotongan language. He also published a ‘Narrative of Missionary Enterprises in the South Sea Islands’, before returning to the islands in 1837.
Williams was martyred on the island of Erromango in the New Hebrides in 1839. He was with fellow missionary James Harris attempting to bring the gospel to the cannibalistic islanders when they were set upon, murdered, and eaten.
The people of Rarotonga erected a memorial stone in 1839 which is still there. Mrs Williams lived until 1852, and was buried in London. A memorial to her husband was included on a stone monument in the cemetery where she was buried.
Her son, Rev Samuel Tamatoa Williams was born in the New Hebrides, where his father was martyred, such is the courage of true ministers of the gospel.
As recently as 2009 their descendants travelled to Erromango to accept the apologies of descendants of the cannibals in a ceremony of reconciliation, and Dillons Bay was renamed Williams Bay.
What shines through these stories is the fact that missionaries work as families. Many times their children were and are born on the mission field. Many lost family members, including children, to sickness, disease, or martyrdom at the hands of the people they were trying to evangelise.
They would say, if asked whether they feared death, that they had died in Christ before they set sail for the mission field.
To this day the South Pacific Islands have been largely Christian as a result of the work of missionary families like the Williams.
Partly sourced from wikipedia article