2010, Afghanistan. Aid workers were in the midst of helping a group of remote Afghan villagers, especially mothers and their children who needed it most, with eye care and other medical needs. Suddenly gunmen appeared and lined the workers up. They shot each worker one by one, including Cheryl Beckett, age thirty-two. The only survivor was the Afghan driver, who was reciting Koranic verse. Their Land Rovers were also riddled with bullets and found next to the ford of a swollen river. In an official Taliban statement in Pashto, at the time claiming responsibility, a key charge was the assertion that they’d found Dari language Bibles.
According to her parents and her heartfelt journal entries, Cheryl graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a global passion for love and justice. Having already visited numerous countries before Afghanistan, she developed a clear call to spread Christ’s love—a call that led her to a village near Kabul in 2005.
The sponsoring group was the International Assistance Mission, a Christian charity group that had worked in Afghanistan since 1966. It reported that she had joined the medical team for their three-week trip as a translator, helpful as a Pashto speaker for the local women. Her family’s release states that “Cheryl loved and respected the Afghan people. She denied herself many freedoms in order to abide by Afghan law and custom.”
Her father, Reverend Charles Beckett, had little doubt about her driving faith. After her death, he read her journals and reflected:
She wrote in her journal, which has been a spiritual oasis for me. Over and over again I read this theme: no longer my own, I’ve been bought by Christ, with His own blood. I want to know Him better.
And then she wrote, “I want to die to myself.” And then she asked the question to herself, “What does that look like? How do I make that tangible?” That is what she devoted her life to, knowing Him but knowing Him by sacrificially suffering in order to show Him.
“No longer my own.” The heart cry of Cheryl has been the impulse of hundreds of thousands of Christian martyrs over the centuries. No sacrifice is too large. What some people may not realize is that Christians are still dying cruel deaths throughout much of the world. Millions have given their lives since the fall of Rome, and it is estimated that today thousands die annually for their faith in Jesus. Most of these modern stories are not legendary; in fact, the majority of them are unknown. That’s why Johnnie Moore and Jerry Pattengale have sought to compile a new book of martyrs that includes contemporary martyrdom stories with ancient ones (The New Book of Christian Martyrs). By even the most conservative accounts, we are experiencing a new generation of martyrs.[i] There were, in fact, more martyrs in the last century than in all the previous Christian centuries combined. In solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are experiencing persecution and martyrdom, we should echo them: “no longer my own.”
Learn more by exploring The New Book of Christian Martyrs by Johnnie Moore and Jerry Pattengale.
About the Authors:
Johnnie Moore is a popular speaker and acclaimed human rights and religious freedom activist known for his consequential work at the intersection of faith and foreign policy, especially in the Middle East. He is president of JDA Worldwide and president of the Congress of Christian Leaders. Rev. Moore’s many awards and honors include the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s prestigious Medal of Valor. He was twice appointed to the US Commission for International Religious Freedom, and in 2020 was named one of America’s 10 most influential religious leaders.
Jerry Pattengale is inaugural University Professor at Indiana Wesleyan University and holds distinguished posts at Sagamore Institute, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Waverley Abbey College (UK), Excelsia College (AU), and Tyndale House–Cambridge (UK). He was a founding scholar of the Museum of the Bible (Washington, DC). In 2021, he received the National Press Club’s Vivian Award and a Telly Award for the TV series, Inexplicable: How Christianity Spread to the Ends of the Earth.
 Rod Nordland, “Gunmen Kill Medical Aid Workers in Afghanistan,” New York Times, August 7, 2010. The accounts vary slightly on details; see also Jason Motlagh, “Will Aid Workers’ Killings End Civilian Surge?,” Time, August 9, 2010.
 Liz Robbins, “Ten Aid Workers Killed by Taliban in Afghanistan,” Desert News, August 7, 2010.
 Reverend Charles Beckett in The Global Impact Bible, senior ed. Jerry A. Pattengale (Franklin, TN: Worthy Publishing, 2017), 1649. Cheryl’s testimony accompanies 1 John 3:16.
[i] This is a key point made by John L. Allen Jr., The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution (New York: Image, 2013). Also, see websites from the following organizations: Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, The Voice of the Martyrs, and Open Doors. For a list of how the apostles died, see David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson, World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2200, Part 4: Martyrology (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2001).
Posted on March 16, 2023
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