Pastor David Witt was a Mission Representative speaking on behalf of the persecuted church for The Voice of the Martyrs from 1998 to 2007. The Lord spoke to David’s heart in those days that he should engage the Body of Christ with the three greatest gifts of the spirit: faith, hope and love. During his ten years with The Voice of the Martyrs and visiting persecuted Christians in restricted nations, David witnessed a genuine love and spirit of martyrdom (faithful witness) from these believers. This fruit of love was illustrated powerfully by a believer in Indonesia. While the gun was pointed at the head of the believer, he cried out, “Father, please forgive him for he knows not what he is doing.” The shot rang out and the believer went to be with our Lord. David was honored to meet with this beloved widow who shared, “If my husband could forgive the gunman, so could I.”
God strengthened David’s understanding of faith by the lives of our overcoming persecuted brothers and sisters. One Iraqi pastor was a mighty example of this faith. He was arrested by Saddam Hussien’s secret police for his Christian witness. He was beaten, tortured and interrogated while continuing to share Christ’s love to the Muslim inmates. He said, “God spoke to me and told me that if I would be faithful to speak His name inside of prison, then I would be faithful to speak His name outside of prison.”
Last of all, David met believers who held on with hope and vision for the Kingdom of God when few others had any hope. A wonderful example of this kind of hope was found in Egypt. The Muslim background believers have found hope in the prophecy of Isaiah 19:23-25. This prophecy speaks of the day when a highway of worship and peace will come to this area of the Middle East. God will pour out his blessing upon Egypt, Israel and Iraq. The followers of Christ believe they are preparing for this day. They told David that the blood of the martyrs will be the pavement of the highway. Their hope is contagious and inspires great courage. (All the above stories are told in greater detail in David’s book, Fearless Love, In the Midst of Terror.)
The week before the 9/11 attacks, David was attending meetings at The Voice of the Martyrs office. An international lawyer, who was a Muslim and now is a believer in Jesus Christ, was briefing the staff on Islam. This Muslim background believer in Christ is considered a Hafez in Arabic, which means he has the Qur’an memorized. He reported to the staff that week how there are over 3,000 Islamic organizations in the United States alone. Islam is infiltrating the United States with propaganda in every major sector of society, including millions of dollars pouring into universities, public school systems, libraries, media, financial markets and the government. He outlined the belief of Islam and the teaching of jihad and warned the VOM staff of impending danger in America. His teachings were alarming. That weekend David spoke at various churches in another state and pondered the report he had been given regarding the growth of fundamental Islam. David traveled home late Monday night and on Tuesday morning, September 11th, he woke up with a call from a friend who told him to turn on the television to see the present attack happening in New York and Washington, DC.
God has taught David that there are no coincidences, but only God incidences. Considering the warning David had been given just a few days before September 11th and now seeing jihad unleashed before his eyes was a wakeup call. He felt the Lord calling him to begin to study Islam and become informed so that he could teach and equip the Body of Christ around the world.
David felt the Lord speak, “American Christians have fallen into fear. Go preach my message and set them free.” The message God had previously given him was on the topic of “spirit of martyrdom” since the beginning days on staff at The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) in 1998. David preached in churches on Biblical and current Christian martyrdom. As he traveled around the world serving persecuted Christians, he witnessed overcoming love, courageous faith and unbending hope with forgiveness for their enemies. David recognized these beautiful believers as living martyrs – witnesses for Christ. (The Greek word for martyr is martus which translates as “witness.”) The Holy Spirit continued to open up his eyes to see the Biblical principles alive in these precious believers. They were living martyrs with a fearless love that comes from the Spirit of Christ. About this time, Sabina Wurmbrand, a Romanian Jewish background believer in Jesus and co-founder of The Voice of the Martyrs, said to David, “Martyrs do not make truth, but truth makes martyrs.” David continued to discover this as he built relationships with our brothers and sisters who risk all for the sake of Christ.
The message David discovered in his own life from global visits with the persecuted Church and personal studies is that the Bible tells us in the end times the love of most will wax cold. It is fear that waxes love cold. We live in days of terrorism. Love overcomes terrorism. Biblical love is martyrdom. Jesus demonstrated sacrificial love and died for His enemies. Jesus invites us to pick up our cross and be known for our sacrificial love. In his research, he found very few books written on Biblical martyrdom. He also found that there was a lack of concise teaching on Islamic martyrdom in the western culture.
From 2001 to 2004, David began to teach on Islam, jihad and witnessing the Gospel to Muslims. Also, he would teach on Biblical martyrdom in context with the persecuted Christian Church around the world. Christianity is the number one persecuted minority in the world and Islamic nations are the leading persecutors. Presently, there are 50 Islamic majority controlled nations that restrict Christian freedom and are hostile to the Gospel. If the institutional Church in America is to be effective in ministry to persecuted Christians in Islamic nations, Christians must understand the worldview that supports the human rights violations. Now America is under spiritual and physical attack from the same philosophy that supports persecution of Christians. In this environment, David found churches open to receive teaching regarding these issues.
In 2004, David was led to begin writing his first book, The Spirit of Martyrdom (later changed the name of the book to Fearless Love –In the Midst of Terror). He had developed a dear friendship with Dr. Mujahid El Masih from Pakistan. Dr. Masih and David had taught together on Islam many times. David asked him if he would collaborate in the writing of the book because his teaching on jihad was the best David had found anywhere. With the spirit of love and desire to equip the Church to witness the Gospel to Muslims, they wanted to write the book to give Christians an understandable premise of the teaching and danger within Islam; specifically the Islamic teaching regarding jihad. David and Dr. Masih saw the contrast between Islamic martyrdom and Biblical martyrdom and how these two specific subjects were the perfect springboards to bring all these issues together. Between their busy speaking and traveling schedules, they began to write the book while David’s wife, Cindy, helped edit the book. In 2007, Casscom Media offered to produce The Spirit of Martyrdom – For the Love of Muslims as an audio book. The president of Casscom Media and his staff shared that this project was very significant and timely. They rushed it into production and in November 2007 they completed the audio book and began to distribute it.
December 20, 2007 Spirit of Martyrdom was incorporated as a non-profit ministry. On April 1, 2008, David transitioned from staff to Associate Representative with The Voice of the Martyrs until spring 2011. David now serves the Spirit of Martyrdom ministries full-time as the Chief Executive Officer. David credits the Holy Spirit in expanding the scope of Spirit of Martyrdom ministries to the global Church of courageous witnesses of Christ.
Spirit of Martyrdom has grown significantly each year and now has a global and domestic outreach. In 2009, American missionary to Colombia and good friend, Russell Stendal, approached David about joining forces with Spirit of Martyrdom ministries. Spirit of Martyrdom became the umbrella and the United States office to communicate with USA partners the work in Latin America and vital ministry in war-torn Colombia. The ministry in Colombia is touching the lives of people through Christian radio broadcasting and distributing Bibles and Christian materials. Most importantly, there are relationships being built with Colombians of all political, religious and ethnic persuasion as we demonstrate peace and love through faith in Jesus Christ.
In 2011, Spirit of Martyrdom began to support Pastor Singh’s leadership of a house church movement. The house church movement is focused on unreached people in remote and restricted areas of India. Most of these Indians are from a low caste background and are severely impoverished. In the beginning of 2011, Pastor Singh had discipled 7 other men and started 15 house churches. In April 2011, we graduated our first 30 students from our Church Planting School. Spirit of Martyrdom continues to see lives changed in every way as these young believers are freed from the control of sin and are now walking in their new identity in Christ. As of August 2015, this network surpassed 10,000 house churches with over 150,000 Indians involved.
In 2011, SOM-India also started a Women’s Sewing Discipleship School that ministers to mostly non-literate widows. Over six months, they are given a Biblical foundation about living and being a witness for Christ while learning sewing skills. After graduation, the women use their new sewing machines to start a tailoring business while being a witness for Christ. By the end of 2015, nearly 300 women have tailoring businesses and support the house church movement.
Every six months, a new class of graduates completes their training at the Church Planting Schools and the Women’s Sewing Discipleship Schools. Upon graduation, with God’s provision, Spirit of Martyrdom is able to equip these graduates with Biblical training, sewing machines for the women, bicycles for church planters, Bibles and Christian resources. Spirit of Martyrdom has also been able to equip SOM-India with motorcycles for regional leaders and a van and car for ministry use and outreaches.
From the beginning days with David’s book, Fearless Love-In the Midst of Terror, the underground church in the Muslim world has been a major passion for Spirit of Martyrdom. SOM is honored to partner with Muslim background believers in Jesus Christ and supports church planting movements and their leaders with funds, materials, training and resources for outreach and witness development. From North Africa to the ends of Asia, SOM is encouraged by the rapid growth of Muslims coming to faith in Jesus Christ. The ministry has built strategic relationships in the Muslim world and will continue to support the courageous witness of Christ and advance of His Kingdom in this region.
Spirit of Martyrdom’s priority is serving the living martyrs (national believers) in restricted nations, witnessing their faith in Christ at great cost and sacrifice. From these examples of faith internationally, the ministry developed domestic outreaches to embolden the witness of Christ in the United States. Spirit of Martyrdom offers three 3-day trainings to serve the American Church. The three trainings are: Witness Development Evangelism, Witness Development Discussion and Discipleship Method, and Witness Development Muslim Outreach. We have a growing staff traveling the United States training others in these methods.
Spirit of Martyrdom is grateful to God for allowing us to participate in the expansion of His global work. We praise God for the many Christians domestically and internationally who sacrificially serve and give to further the Kingdom of Christ. If you would like to join us on this journey of what God is doing around the world, please contact us.