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April 27 belongs to two martyrs. They never knew one another, never met, and indeed, lived centuries apart. One was married on this day, then killed shortly afterward. The other marks this as the day of his death. The latter was a Christian named Pollio in the town of Gibalea (modern Vinkovce, Hungary). On April 27, 304 he was hauled before a judge who demanded his name. “Pollio,” he said.
“Are you a Christian?”
“What office do you hold?” Pollio replied that he was chief of the readers in his church, one whose duty it was to read God’s Word to the congregation. For that offense, Pollio was promptly burned to death.
Sixteen hundred years later, another Christian named Roy Orpin, a New Zealander, considered missionary service. He had been deeply moved by the martyrdom of John and Betty Stam in China. He went to Thailand, and there, on April 27, 1961, married an Englishwoman named Gillian. She was also a missionary in that country. At the reception, the two sang a duet, the hymn “Calvary.”
The couple moved into a shanty in a Thai village and spent their first year of marriage amid growing danger. Violence was escalating in Southeast Asia. Gillian became pregnant, and Roy became afraid. “I had no peace,” he wrote friends, “until I remembered 2 Corinthians 10:5.” Gillian moved to a regional town having a missionary hospital while Roy stayed in the village of Bitter Bamboo to work with a small band of Christians. Suddenly three robbers appeared, demanded his valuables, and shot him.
He was taken to a government hospital, and Gillian rushed to his side. He lingered for four days. His dying wish was for his wife to join him in singing a favorite hymn. The two lovers raised faltering voices and sang, “Jesus! I am resting, resting / In the joy of what Thou art; / I am finding out the greatness / Of thy loving heart.” Then Roy, age 26, passed away. They had been married less than 13 months.
We live in this world, but we don’t act like its people or fight our battles with the weapons of this world. Instead, we use God’s power that can destroy fortresses. We destroy arguments and every bit of pride that keeps anyone from knowing God. We capture people’s thoughts and make them obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day: 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Apr. 27.
ALSO ON THIS DAY
1721 – In England, an order in council is issued, denouncing “Hell Fire” societies whose members allegedly held meetings to ridicule religion and offer blasphemous toasts.
1550 – Georg von Polentz, the first Reformation bishop of Samland and Pomesania, a region in Prussia; died.
1848 – John Bird Sumner was enthroned as archbishop of Canterbury. An evangelical, he vigorously improved the diocese of Chester, consecrated over two hundred new churches; voted for the removal of restrictions on Catholics; and wrote many books. In Records of Creation, he held that Moses’ accounts of creation were credible and fit well with scientific findings. As archbishop, he dealt even-handedly with the high and low church parties.
1955 – Christian Missionary Alliance pilot Albert Lewis crashed his flying boat in a pass leading into Baliem Valley in what was then Netherlands New Guinea. Before his untimely death, ten thousand souls had been brought to Christ in part because of his supporting ministry.
Accessed ChristianHistoryInstitute.org 26 April 2022.
*Photo in header by MirkoS18 – Own work