This book is both an easy and difficult read. It is easy because the storyline is gripping and well written. It is difficult because the story is about the gruesome murders of three fine Christian men.
The story takes place in 2007 and is based in Malatya, eastern Turkey. It begins with the murder of the three men and then describes the events leading up to it. One of the victims was German, while the other two were Turks. The latter two were born into Islam, but came to faith in Christ. Both men spoke of being gripped by the Sermon on the Mount and enthusiastically reading the New Testament before they were saved.
The murderers, all Turkish Muslims, had a deep-seated hatred of Christians. They viewed themselves as heroes and the Christians they slew as monsters. What emerges from the story is the distinction between evangelical Christians and fundamentalist Muslims. The Christians were driven by love for Muslims, the murderers by hatred of Christians.
Having said this, the book is not a tirade against Muslims in general. It mentions how some Muslims have aided Christians. Wright also mentions that some, though calling themselves Christians, have used the story in unethical ways to solicit funds for their own work.
As I read the book, it underlined the fact that many Christians walk through the valley of the shadow of death in a way that few western Christians do. These men proactively set out to share the love of Christ with people who would murder them. It reminds us that for people who would speak of Jesus Christ in this kind of environment, betrayal is a reality.
The story of the Martyrs of Malatya is not as well known as it should be. This readable book should go some way to rectify this. It could be given to virtually anyone, including Muslim friends who are becoming disillusioned with Islam.
The only improvement I would suggest for future editions would be to include a map showing places mentioned in the book.
Jon le M. Trac