Ready for Heaven – Father Jacob Magdy from Saint Mark’s Church in Sydney, Australia, recounts this story .
In the early 1970s, I used to serve a group of small villages in El Giza governorate, not far from Cairo. The villages had a lot of fanatics and they weren’t happy fbr us to serve there. They warned us not to come again. Of course, we didn’t listen to their threats. We continued serving for a couple of weeks. By the second week they started harassing us more. The third week, they told us clearly that if you come here again, we will shoot you. It would have been quite easy for them to do that, as we used to pass through large fields of maize. The maize was very tall and they could easily have disposed of our bodies there.
I went back to my Sunday school super-intendant and shared with him the threat. We had about 150 servants in our Church and he stood up in the meeting where all the servants were gathered and announced the threat. He said “if you choose to go to this village, there is a likelihood of you being martyred for Christ.” He clearly articulated “as a Church we can’t force people to serve there, but we are asking for volunteers who are willing to serve in this village.”
A number of people came forward to do this service fully understanding that they might be martyred. I asked one of them, why are you willing to do this? He told me that his father was martyred and he saw the blessing of this martyrdom in his life every day. That’s why he was willing to be martyred for Christ.
As Bishop Kallistos Ware writes in his hook The Inner Kingdom: “The only triumph that the Church on earth can or should expect is that of martyrdom. The martyr is a witness not only to the Crucifixion but to the Resurrection, martyrdom involves anguish both physical and mental, of a most acute kind; yet the suffering if the martyrs is a Joy-creating sorrow, both for others and for themselves.”