By faith Moses … chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. Hebrews 11:24a, 25-26

On 4 December 1623, 50 Christians from Edo (now Tokyo) were taken to be burnt alive on slow fires. Among them were two ministers, who encouraged the others and proclaimed their faith to bystanders.

A Japanese nobleman was riding by and asked who the criminals were. When he was told they were Christians, he said that he also was a Christian and should be with them.

His courage caused others to confess their faith in Christ and fall on their knees. The officers were afraid there would be a riot, so they hurried on the executions.

Among those who died were missionaries Jerome and Francis, and Simon Yempo, one of a number of Japanese Buddhist monks who had converted to Christianity.

Whatever sort of tribulation we suffer, we should always remember that its purpose is to make us spurn the present and reach out to the future.
John Calvin (1509-64)
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.