Johnnie Moore is one of America’s most prominent evangelical leaders, but he’s also among the preeminent voices for the persecuted global church, shining light on both horrors and perseverance.
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Moore, who recently coauthored “The New Book of Christian Martyrs: The Heroes of Our Faith from the 1st Century to the 21st Century” alongside Jerry Pattengale, spoke about the importance of learning about and studying the stories of Christian martyrs.
“The stories of Christians who’ve died for their faith have been the sort of like [a] spiritual shot in the arm for generations of Christians,” he told CBN’s Faithwire, noting how “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” has been a staple for Christians to process such stories over the centuries.
Moore said he began to feel called to re-approach these accounts and codify them into a new, more digestible book more fitting for modern audiences.
“About eight years ago, [the] Lord put it on my heart that it was time to record these stories again for a new generation — to update the book, to revise the book,” he said.
Thus, “The New Book of Christian Martyrs” brings a clear understanding of the types of persecution Christians face across the globe.
“I want people to understand that we’re calling these people heroes because they are heroes — because they died for their faith,” Moore said. “But everyone in this book, while they are heroes, they’re also everyday Christians like the rest of us. … This is the story of everyday Christians like you and me whose faith costs them something.”
There was so much content at the end of the first draft Moore said the publisher had him and Pattengale cut around 200 pages from the initial total of 600; he believes this is the first of a number of volumes.
Tragically, Moore’s new book comes as global persecution hits a fever pitch.
Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List, which ranks the 50 nations where persecution is worst, warned earlier this year of the “horrifying growth” of persecution.
While the “situation’s really, really bad,” Moore said there are some important — and even encouraging — dynamics to keep in mind, as embattled believers remain resolute.
“Persecution is at its height — there were more martyrs in the last century than in the previous 19 centuries combined — most of that at the end of the 20th century,” he said. “And yet the church is so strong, and all around the world, in the most difficult places, at the most difficult times, I meet the most amazing Christians that, like, walk off the pages of the New Testament into your life.”
Moore continued, “The strength of the church … has made my own faith alive and it encourages me.”
He described the “depressing situation” in western Africa, where Islamic radicals and ISIS are wreaking havoc, and also noted the continued pestilence communism inflicts.
“It’s a really depressing thing to look at the rise of communism,” Moore added. “Communism is still the foremost persecutor of Christians and devoutly religious people of any other ideology.”
Still, he remains encouraged by the perseverance as well as some of the positive developments unfolding in other locations.
As for “The New Book of Christian Martyrs,” Moore said it was impossible to pick just one story included in the text that most resonated with him, noting the book starts with the story of Polycarp, “the first Christian outside of the New Testament who was martyred.”
“It’s an amazing story,” he said. “I mean, it’s this elderly man. They put him through incomprehensible things, and yet he dies professing his faith.”
The book also covers contemporary stories of believers who have lost their lives over their faith. Find out more here.
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