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A Martyr People

"All of creation watches expectantly for the springing up of a disciplined, freely gathered, martyr people who know in this life the life and power of the kingdom of God." Richard Foster

A martyr people, a people willing to die rather than abandon or turn against God.  But how can we be willing to die for Jesus, being tortured and suffering great pain unless we are willing to suffer small pain in order to be faithful and obedient?

I am faithless.  I can't consistently tolerate the "pain" of walking past attractive food without indulging; I protest getting up and am often drawn back to my bed rather than endure the discomfort of being tired even when I know getting up is important for my mental health and productivity and it's something God commands against, calling people like me "sluggards." How can I expect to be faithful to God in more important matters?

I like my comforts and dislike pain and yet it seems that growth happens only in the presence of pain: The pain of going hungry in order to lose weight; the pain of sore muscles when exercising; the pain of getting some place slower because one wants to make a smaller ecological footprint on the planet.  Pain is important and needs to be embraced (ask a leprosy patient who loses a finger or toe because they don't have any pain to tell them the digit in question is in danger).

Spiritually, it is the same.  We need to be a martyr people, unafraid of pain to hold to a higher calling.

I've started using a phone app called LIFT, a motivational tool that allows a person to set some daily goals and check them off as they're achieved.  The app sends words of encouragement when you've managed to be consistent for three days, seven days, etc.  Already I've failed.

Oswald Chambers mirrors Richard Foster's statement when he says, "I never am a sacramental disciple until I deliberately lay myself on the altar of the Cross and give myself over emphatically and entirely to be actually what I am potentially in the sight of God, viz. [that is], a member of the Body of Christ.  When I swing clear of myself and my own consciousness and give myself over to Jesus Christ, He can use me as a sacrament to nourish other lives."

Chambers asserts that when we are "consciously serving [and] consciously devoted to God," when we're conscious of the cost of following God, we are immature.  By this definition, I am definitely immature for I am not only conscious of the cost but too often unwilling to pay it.

"When you are laid on the altar of the Cross all consciousness of self is gone, all consciousness of what you are doing for God, or of what God is doing through you, is gone."  I would like to attain this kind of un-self-consciousness, to be free of self-absorption, self consciousness and the restraints of selfishness, self-centredness and self-indulgence.

Chambers warns us, "Beware of stealing souls for whom Christ died for your own affectionate wealth."  Affectionate wealth?  What's this?  Gaining the affections of others?  Being rich in affection from others?  Thinking that others are drawn to me (if they are) because of my own giftedness, my own ability to say things just right, etc.?  In contrast, Chambers says I need to be "broken bread and poured-out wine for [others]."  Can I do this?  It requires being "a martyr people," in Foster's words.  I can't be a martyr people if my sleep, my belly, my comfort, my "need" for approval and affection all take precedence.  Martyr people are those who make these things secondary to God and who do so so completely they're totally unaware that they're giving something up.

God's purpose for us is service--service to him and service to others but never service to ourselves.  A martyr people relinquishes all measure of self-service.  God help me to be one of his martyr people.


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About the Author


I'm married (35 years in December 2008) with four grown sons. I love my city (Winnipeg) and my country (Canada) and promote them both to whoever will listen. God (through Jesus Christ) is the biggest part of my life. I am learning to let him take control of all areas--though I do better at this some times more than others.

I have written a book that's recently been published about part of my journey with God. In it I tell how God confronted me with the same-sex attraction issues I've struggled with all my adult life and how he led me through them to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with him. God is amazing—his forgiveness, his love, his movement in our lives when we allow him and so much more. I suspect God will never run out of things to teach me or ways to make me grow and that’s a good thing (though often very painful).

I suppose I can say that what gives me the greatest pleasure in life is telling others about…

Memories of Mikael Vincent Tien Doe Chan

Reviews of Searching for Love

If you have read the book, I would love to hear your thoughts on it. You may e-mail me at or post them in the comments section below.

A Real Testimony
I finished your book. A real testimony to what God does for us.
Leona March 3, 2009
I Had Tears Coming

I sat down to read it about a week later and ended up finishing it the same night. At first I admit I was a little bored and thought that the whole book was about a battle all in your mind, but as I continued reading this creeping thought came over me of a different...struggle in my own life, that I would never in my right mind have shared with anyone accept maybe God. I've mentioned your book to a few people because it stirs up age-old controversies that I have myself argued and wondered about, namely about whether or not homosexuality can be cured or just managed like alcoholism--you just have to stay away from temptation. I noticed at the end of your book that your struggle story …