Halloween is here. I have been engaged in an interesting discussion with Keith, an old childhood friend. The dialogue has prompted me to think about how I should commemorate the Halloween festival. My boys will don superhero costumes and get more candy than I will ever let them eat. Aside from the normal kid stuff, how should we, as followers of Jesus, observe this time of the year?
Halloween began as a pagan festival that invoked a fear of dead spirits who were thought to roam the world. In modern America, the pagan roots are lost to our collective memory, but still the focus upon death, fear, and suffering dominate this holiday. In stark contrast, the Scripture says we need not fear death because, through Jesus, we have conquered it.
So I ask again, how should followers of the Way of Life memorialize a very popular holiday that encourages a fear of death? The answer is to turn our attention toward those who, in the name of Jesus Christ, have conquered the fear of death.
According to the Voice of the Martyrs “Around the world today Christians are being persecuted for their faith. More than 70 million Christians have been martyred for their faith since 33 AD. This year an estimated 160,000 believers will die at the hands of their oppressors and over 200 million will be persecuted, arrested, tortured, beaten or jailed. In many nations it is illegal to own a Bible, share your faith, change your faith or allow children under 18 to attend a religious service.”
As All Hallows Eve draws near, let us then put a name and face to the thousands upon thousands who have conquered fear through hope in eternal life.
Migsti Haile, 33, died September 5, 2007 and is the fourth Christian known to have been killed in Eritrea which is a country in northern East Africa. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast.
Migsti Haile was tortured to death in a military facility for refusing to renounce her faith in Jesus Christ, Open Doors, a Christian persecution and human rights watchdog, said Haile was tortured for refusing to “sign a letter recanting her faith”. It is believed she spent 18 months in prison “under severe pressure” since she and nine other single Christian women were arrested at a church gathering in Keren.
Migsti Haile suffered death because she beloved in the God of life. So this Halloween, I choose to remind my family, my Church, and the world that we need not fear death. Instead, let us celebrate the faith of those who have conquered death and entered into everlasting life.