the look of joy on his face

I got a free download of one of John Piper's books yesterday, and as I was reading the introduction I was really gripped by the story of the deaths of John and Betty Stam.  They were missionaries to China and were beheaded by Communists in 1934.  Their three-month-old baby daughter, Helen Priscilla, was alone in the world, hidden in a basket by her mother, with a ten dollar bill and the hope that someone kind would find her.  I hope this short excerpt telling the story of the deaths of these two brave martyrs encourages you as it did me.

   *Never was that little one more precious than when they looked their last on her baby sweetness, as they were roughly summoned the next morning and led out to die… Painfully bound with ropes, their hands behind them, stripped of their outer garments, and John barefooted (he had given Betty his socks to wear), they passed down the street where he was known to many, while the Reds shouted their ridicule and called the people to come and see the execution.
   Like their Master, they were led up to a little hill outside the town. There, in a clump of pine trees, the Communists harangued the unwilling onlookers, too terror-stricken to utter protest—but no one broke the ranks! The doctor of the place and a Christian, he expressed the feelings of many when he fell on his knees and pleaded for the life of his friends. Angrily repulsed by the Reds, he still persisted, until he was dragged away as a prisoner, to suffer death when it appeared that he too was a follower of Christ.
   John had turned to the leader of the band, asking mercy for this man. When he was sharply ordered to kneel—and the look of joy on his face, afterwards, told of the unseen Presence with them as his spirit was released—Betty was seen to quiver, but only for a moment. Bound as she was, she fell on her knees beside him. A quick command, the flash of a sword which mercifully she did not see—and they were reunited.
-- Geraldine Taylor

 * excerpt taken from "This Momentary Marriage" by John Piper, page 14

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