I found an insightful story from Forbes.com on the true meaning of martyrdom. The article looks at the very different religious commitments of a Muslim and a Christian. Here is an excerpt:
This past Christmas Day brought us the stories of two young men, both willing to martyr themselves for their beliefs, but in ways and for visions so utterly different that their tales might serve as a parable for the defining struggles of our time.
One, as you surely know, was the underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a wealthy young Muslim from a prominent Nigerian family. Following his embrace of radical Islam, he tried to sacrifice himself–allegedly–in a botched attempt to sow terror and death by blowing up an American airliner packed with 289 other people, en route to Detroit. Having entered American air space decked out as a suicide bomber, he is now availing himself of U.S. constitutional rights, granted to him by the Obama Administration, to plead not guilty to criminal charges.
The other martyr, in stark contrast, was a 28-year-old Christian missionary, Robert Park. An American of Korean descent, Park offered himself up peacefully, on Christmas Day, for the cause of life and liberty for others. He went to northeast China, and from there walked across the frozen Tumen River into North Korea. Witnesses told reporters that as he went, he called out, in Korean, messages of God’s love, as well as “I am an American citizen.” He took with him a letter to North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-il, asking Kim to open his country and shut down his prison camps.
…Before he crossed that frozen river, he [Park] gave an interview to Reuters, asking that it be held until he was in North Korea. In that interview, which Reuters released shortly after he had crossed over, Park spelled out “I do not want to be released. I don’t want President Obama to come and pay to get me out.” What he wanted, he said, is for “the North Korean people to be free. Until the concentration camps are liberated, I do not want to come out. If I have to die with them, I will.”
Two men wholly committed to their faith. Thanks to the Wintery Knight for bringing this story to my attention.