PetrA former prisoner of faith who faced a death sentence in Sudan has added his support to Release International’s new Martyrs’ Day initiative.

Release has declared June 29 to be Martyrs’ Day – a day for remembering and honouring Christians who have died for their faith.

Czech-born missionary Petr Jasek was arrested in Sudan while gathering news on the persecuted Church there. He was falsely accused of spying and faced a death sentence, before being finally released after diplomatic pressure.

During his 445 days in prison, he was beaten and threatened with death by members of Islamic State, including a former bodyguard of Osama Bin Laden. He was delivered from their hands and taken to another cell, where he led many prisoners to Christ.

Lending his support to Martyrs’ Day, he urged Christians to remember not only those who have laid down their lives for their faith, but also their families. And he warns we should prepare for persecution ourselves.

He said: ‘We should remember these people, and not forget their family members, because often these [who have died] were the breadwinners for their families.

‘Remember them’

‘We should feel about them like we are feeling about parts of the same body of Christ’s church on this Earth. This is what we read in Hebrews 13:3, that we should remember them as if we were with them, because we are also in the body.

‘When we share their testimonies, it is not to frighten people. It is to show that this is normal for Christians to be martyred and persecuted. The day may come when we, too, will face the same persecution.

‘When we feel the pain of others and hear their stories, we feel their pain. Sometimes we have tears in our eyes, when we hear horrific testimonies of Christians losing their beloved ones. But that’s the reality that we should get ready for, if we want to follow Christ with all our heart and sincerely, not making any compromises in our lives.’

You can hear Petr Jasek giving his views on Martyrs’ Day here

Release has launched Martyrs’ Day in the year of its 50th anniversary, to remember courageous Christians who suffer for their faith to the point of death.

Release is calling on Christians to set aside time to pray for the families of those who have lost their lives because of their faith in Christ.

Resources available include stories of modern martyrs, prayers and readings. They can be downloaded here

Petr Jasek is on a speaking tour for Release International. For details of where you can hear him tell his remarkable story, click here