Faithful Witness

David Bast

Read: Revelation 2:12-17

Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you. (v. 13)

There is often a high cost for being “not ashamed of the gospel.” On a visit to a small Bible college in a rural district of India, I heard the story of Navin Doman. The students at the college were from the Kuruk people and Navin Doman was the first Kuruk Christian, converted through the witness of German Lutheran missionaries in the 19th century.

When Doman accepted Christ and was baptized in 1850, the tribal elders seized him, bound him, and told him he would be killed on the spot if he did not renounce Christ. Navin Doman replied, “I will not deny my faith. If you kill me, from each drop of my blood a thousand Christians will spring.” The Kuruk leaders were so impressed with Doman’s courage they allowed him to go free. He became an evangelist, and spent the rest of his life bearing witness to Christ.

The word martyr comes from a Greek word that means “witness.” It is because so many of the early Christian witnesses were like Antipas–faithful to the death–that martyr gained its modern meaning. The African church father Tertullian famously said that the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church. In God’s providence Navin Doman was not called to seal his testimony with his life’s blood. But his prophecy has come true in other times and places. From every drop of martyr’s blood, a thousand Christians have sprung.

—David Bast

Lord, give me the strength to be a faithful witness.