Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD [is] the death of his saints.
Although it has gotten minimal coverage, a terrible tragedy occurred on January 30, 2011. Steven Ocean and Tite Sifra, 23 and 24 years old respectively, were shot and killed after sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with an 18 year old teenager in Florida. The 18 year old, Jeriah Woody, has been charged with two counts of first degree murder. The news reports stated:
Woody’s phone reportedly rang and he turned and walked away to take the call. But then he turned around again and started walking towards the street preachers. Sufra approached him and Woody allegedly shot him in the head. Ocean tried to run away, but police said Woody allegedly shot him in the back and then walked up to him and shot him again in the head at point-blank range.
The police account is based on the third street preacher that was with Sufra and Ocean when they talked to Woody. The unidentified third minister had escaped by running in the opposite direction.
Both Ocean and Sifra came from difficult backgrounds and had run-ins with unlawful behavior as teens but turned their lives around once they became born-again Christians. From that point they became ministers and regularly reached out to the youth of their area trying to encourage them to give up the lifestyle they had both experienced and seek a godly life by salvation in Jesus Christ. According to Ocean’s sister: “They go around and minister to boys and say where they came from,” the sister said. “They did that all day and all night.” Their frequent witnessing to gang members, leading them out of a life of violence and crime, led to a lot of resentment of them by gang members in their area and was the suspected motivation behind the shooting according to the Christian Defense Coalition.
This is truly a sad event, but a sign of how much things are changing in America. While we have documented the persecution of Christians overseas, where some can be jailed or killed for even possessing a Bible, this level of anti-Christian hostility has not been seen in the United States.
As believers we should lament over fallen saints of the Lord Jesus Christ. But also remember that we too have the same mission and command from Jesus: go forth into the world and spread the Gospel. Despite this tragic end, these two young saints were victorious! It is our obedience that God wants. And they obeyed to the very end.
Where Is the Media Coverage?
With such a stunning crime occurring right here in the United States, where is the news coverage of this event? One has to search and search to find any stories from any of the major news outlets. Why have we seen no comments from the Attorney General about potential hate crimes? Where is the ACLU and other advocacy groups who seek to protect “victims of hate” and discrimination? They seem to be silent in the face of Christian persecution.
Why The Gospel is So ImportantOnce you are certain that you are a born again Christian, this is your main mission and purpose in the world. The last command Jesus gave to Christians was: “..repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations.. 48And ye are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24) And it does not require traveling to a foreign country to spread the Good News. It can start right in your own home.
Are you too frustrated with family members to continue to share God’s Word with them? Do you feel too embarrassed to testify to God’s greatness and His grace when at social events? Are you a student worried that your friends will laugh and mock you if you start speaking to them about their eternal destiny? If so, hopefully the courage and bravery of these two young Christian men will inspire you to overcome your own anxieties to witness to those around you. If you are too scared to witness to strangers at this point, share the Gospel with family and friends. If that is too challenging, then just leave tracts in public places where they can be picked up and read by others. We can all do our part to share God’s Word and help plant seeds that can lead to souls being saved.
Pray for strength and also pray for the young man who killed them. that in this horrible sin, he can understand that the victims of this crime were only trying to make sure he would be forgiven for all the sins he had committed in his life, including this one. And as long as he is alive, Jesus is still waiting to forgive him. With repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior, even this young men, who killed two Christians can have all his sins forgiven. And that is the beauty of the Gospel. Spread the Word.
Romans 10: 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!