Faith Under Fire
Dramatic Stories of
By Matthew Archbold
176 pages, $15.99
In Faith Under Fire: Dramatic Stories of Christian Courage, Register writer Matthew Archbold knits together nearly 20 contemporary accounts of ordinary Catholics or Christians more broadly who, as a result of their faith, confronted significant and, in some cases, life-threatening challenges.
A very digestible account, the book is well-suited for a lay audience seeking stories of inspiration to fortify them for their own journeys.
The stories selected by Archbold are diverse. They include pro-life witnesses like nurse Jill Stanek; former New York City Fire Department chaplain Father Mychal Judge, who perished during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; martyred monks from North Africa; Lauren Hill, a young woman from Ohio who valiantly battled a deadly brain cancer; and the Pennsylvania Amish community that suffered a mass murder yet forgave the spouse of the killer.
Archbold also includes stories about individuals who have been persecuted for seeking to pray in public spaces or at public events and who have faced lawsuits and government fines for refusing to provide a good or service for a same-sex wedding.
A number of other stories include examples of those who have been persecuted for practicing their faith in regions of the world where doing so is a matter of actual life and death. Though the incident occurred more than 20 years ago, the story of kidnapped and murdered Trappist monks in Algeria during that country’s civil war conjures images of current threats and attacks against Christians in the same region of the world.
The entry on Hill is particularly powerful, as she focused on living by achieving her dream of playing in a collegiate basketball game and raising money to fund research into her rare form of cancer in doing so:
“Lauren, however, came to understand that her life could still be a gift to others. She came to understand that through the attention on her, she might be able to do some good for other children diagnosed with DIPG (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma).”
At the close of each chapter, Archbold poses a set of questions perfect for either individual reflection by the reader or for use in a discussion group.
The diversity of the entries makes for a particularly worthwhile read, in that it captures the range of challenges the faithful — Catholic and non-Catholic Christians — will encounter during their lifetimes. And while the stories are those of struggle and hardship, including in many cases death or physical violence or loss of jobs or reputations, Archbold focuses on the positive dimension of suffering and how many of the examples found hope and solace by living their faith.
Faith Under Fire provides some inspiring real-world and contemporary stories to strengthen our resolve and would be a welcome edition to a home library.
Nick Manetto writes from Herndon, Virginia.