Dear Friend in Ministry,

We, at The Voice of the Martyrs Canada, are grateful to God for your prayerful support as we serve Christ's mission to rescue His followers from the modern-day clutches of evil that's being wielded against righteousness. Often, we pray for and gratefully acknowledge our supporters when encouraging those whom we serve. These persecuted Christians are greatly comforted knowing that they are an integral part of a functioning universal "body of Christ," and that they are remembered by fellow believers. This reality alone brings tremendous strength to their sense of purpose under God's plan.

There is something Scripturally unique about the structure and double-edged purpose of certain verses in Luke 6:20-26, particularly as they pertain to our deeper understanding of the persecution that's now being routinely levied against Christian believers in so many countries of the world. But these verses, commonly referred to as "The Beatitudes," speak clearly of impending blessing and/or inevitable calamity in response to one's disposition and demeanor in and through our circumstances and daily witness.

Verses 20 to 22 provide a key to unlocking a blessed life: "Blessed are you who are poor...blessed are you who hunger...blessed are you who weep...when men hate you...insult you...reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man." Though the principles espoused in these verses are contrarian by any of 'man's' standards, we can take our Lord at His eternal Word, resting on such promises as being timeless and irrevocable.

By God's standards and His desire for us all, one might interpret these three verses as being relative to, and ostensibly for, those who are persecuted for their faith and, thereby, "bearing such crosses." If that is God's intent in speaking through Luke, then the verses that follow (vs. 24 to 26) are surely meant to admonish and refocus those who are self-serving and striving for "worldly" or temporal gain.... "Woe to you who are rich...who are well fed now...who laugh now...when all men speak well of you...."

We might say that the verses of warning are counter-contrarian to the previously mentioned blessings. For those upon whom have been placed a great burden for Jesus' sake, even these verses serve as comforting assurance that their rewards are beyond measure and eternally availed thereafter. Yet there is one more verse of consequence at the fulcrum of this passage, referencing Luke 6:20-22, and that is the following verse (vs. 23): "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets."

The author is referring to the very day of suffering, comparing the suffering of the persecuted to that of the ancient prophets. But I am struck by the elation described as their heavenly reward through words such as "rejoice" and "leap for joy." And I'm reminded that when God blesses those of us who suffer, as did His prophets and other believers mentioned in verses 20 through to 22, it is not just an act of restoration (resetting our lives back to "normal"). God's blessings are never neutral (which in itself would be miraculous). Rather His blessings always leave the recipient better...healed...leaping for joy! It's enough to make one long for the spiritual benefits of persecuted souls who are, even today, receiving more from their Heavenly Father than could ever be measured against their suffering.

May you know the joy of Christ's presence in greater measure, and may you and your family bask in His love with hearts full of thanksgiving as we all reflect on the matchless blessings that are bestowed upon us daily by our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

In Him,

Doug J. McKenzie
Chief Executive Officer
The Voice the Martyrs Canada