In the United States, Memorial Day is when people honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives. From the Revolutionary War of Independence to modern times, people still give their lives in war.

Some people willingly volunteer to serve in the military during wartime, because they believe in the cause. In the United States, the draft ended about 50 years ago. However, during the draft, the government selected people to serve in the military.

 If a person did not report to the military after being drafted, they would be labeled as a draft dodger, arrested, and imprisoned. Rather they volunteered or drafted, brave soldiers were asked to risk their lives for the war cause. This is whether the person agrees with the cause or not.

My father often told the story that after he graduated from high school, many of his classmates were drafted into the military, because the Korean conflict had just begun. However, just out of high school, my father decided to go to college. The Korean conflict began during his first year in college, so he was draft-exempt.

Unfortunately, many of his former classmates were drafted and sent straight to Korea. I can vividly remember the story because my dad emphasized the fact that 100% of his classmates from his graduating class were either injured or killed in Korea. So, if my father did not decide to go to college after graduation, I may never have been born.

After a year in college, my father was drafted into the military. Instead of going to Korea, he was sent to Germany. When a person joins the military, the military tells them where to report and what to do. The decision is no longer the soldiers. I mention this because, in the military, one of my father’s jobs was to jump out of airplanes.

So, one day I asked my father if he liked jumping out of airplanes. His response was, “No, I hated it”. He did it because he was ordered to do so. While he was in the service, he had to jump out of airplanes, because the military told him to do so.

However, after the military, the division patch that was displayed on the shoulder of his uniform was one of the proudest achievements of my father’s life. When my father passed away, we felt compelled to place his military picture not only in his obituary but also, we displayed it next to his casket.

As Christians, we are not drafted into Christendom. We voluntarily signed up for service. However, many Christians either do not realize or simply ignore God’s command structure. Even more than the military, when God gives a command, we are supposed to obey it.

So, for Memorial Day, I not only want to honor the military veterans who gave their lives for the service of this country but also, the brave men and women who gave their lives as martyrs for God.

The birth, the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus, is a good example of someone who completely carried out their mission for GOD. Jesus was sent to earth on a top-secret mission. It was a special mission to seek out, destroy, and conquer the works of the enemy. Jesus was fully aware of the cost he would have to endure to accomplish the task.

“Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19 NKJV).

Jesus followed the explicit instructions of the Father, and he did them. However, even though Jesus knew his purpose, his assignment, and what was at stake, even Jesus had to pray his way through the torment that he was about to endure.

“And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”  (Matthew 26:37-39 KJV).

This transpired in the garden of Gethsemane just before Jesus was arrested, tortured, and put to death. In verse 42 it says,

“Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42 KJV).

These two passages in the scripture show that Jesus had to make his flesh line up with his Father’s will. Jesus overcame the flesh and completed his mission.

Stephen was one of the first deacons. The Bible says that Stephen was full of faith and power and did mighty miracles and works. That was until he was accused of blasphemy against God for preaching about Jesus. Stephen was credited as being the first Christian martyr. As the people stoned him to death, he prayed that God did not hold this sin to their charge. Stephen was the first of what became a multitude of martyrs for the body of Christ.

The death of Stephen was the start of great persecution for the church in Jerusalem. In so much that the church was scattered throughout Samaria and Judea. Saul was one of the main people in Jerusalem, causing Christians to be arrested and placed in prison. Saul was present at the death of Stephen. The men who stoned Stephen laid their clothes at the feet of Saul, and Saul was consenting to his death.

But let’s discuss Saul a little later.

King Herod Agrippa began to persecute believers in the church. He had ordered the death of the first apostle to be martyred, James. James was one of the sons of Zebedee, he was one of the three disciples that Jesus took with him up to the Mount of Transfiguration, and he was one of the three that he took with him further into the Garden of Gethsemane. James was also the brother of the apostle John, who wrote St. John.1,2, 3 John, and the Book of Revelation. The Bible doesn’t say much about the death of James, except that he was killed with the sword.


Peter was arrested and thrown into prison after the execution of James. Herod did it because it pleased some of the Jewish people to kill James. The night before Peter was scheduled to stand trial and certainly suffer the same fate as James, he was asleep in prison. Peter was surrounded, imprisoned by guards, and chained between two soldiers.

If you missed it the first time, the night before his possible execution, Peter was asleep in prison. Peter was in such a deep sleep. That the angel of the Lord had to hit him on the side to wake him up. Peter escaped the prison and certain death.

The Bible doesn’t discuss the eventual death of Peter, but tradition says that Peter was crucified upside down. Peter felt that he was unworthy to die the same way as Jesus, so he asked to be placed upside down. Crucifixion was one of the worst ways to die, but imagine it upside down.



Yes, Saul was the same person who was consenting unto Stephen’s death, and who went from house to house persecuting Christians. Saul was eventually converted and changed his name to Paul. Yes, this is the same Paul who wrote 2/3 of the Bible’s New Testament. Tradition states that Paul was small in stature, however, Paul was one of the toughest people not only in the Bible, but one of the toughest people who ever lived.

I will not discuss all that Paul endured in his life. You can read many of the things that Paul encountered in 2 Corinthians, however, I will mention a few. Paul was whipped receiving 40 stripes five times, he was beaten with a rod three times, and he was stoned once. By the way, Paul was stoned to the point that people believed he was dead. Paul then rose up and went back into the city where the people stoned him. The next day he left the city in which he was stoned and preached in another city. Then, Paul went back again to the city in which he was stoned. He encouraged the people there, telling them to continue in the faith and saying that through many tribulations they will enter God’s Kingdom. This story can be read in Acts 14.

Tradition says that Paul was eventually beheaded in Rome. Before he was killed, Paul wrote to Timothy these words,

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy4:7-8 KJV).

What a man of God!

Since the death of the first Christian martyr Stephen, there have been multitudes of Christians martyred for Christ. As I write this article, throughout the world, Christians are being persecuted, and killed in many nations. Just because the persecutions and deaths are not reported, doesn’t mean they did not happen. Unfortunately, there will be many more Christian martyrs before the return of Jesus.

So, on this Memorial Day, let’s honor the soldiers who fought and died for this country. However, as Christians, let’s also honor our brothers and sisters in the Lord who continue to give their lives for Christ. Remember to pray for our persecuted family, that GOD may deliver them in the face of death.

I wish you and your family a Happy Memorial Day!

G. Edward Wyche

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