A Clear Witness – Br. Lain Wilson

Luke 12:1-12

We remember today the southern African missionary and martyr Bernard Mizeki. Born in modern-day Mozambique, he came to the Christian faith while a young man in South Africa, where he was baptized in 1866 by Father Puller of our Society. In 1891, he traveled to Mashonaland, in the northeast of modern-day Zimbabwe, to serve as a missionary to the Shona people.

In the year of his death, 1896, rebellion against the British South African Company spread to the Shona people, and Mizeki resisted orders to escape to safety. Resentment and violence served as a backdrop to Mizeki’s own death that June at the hands of one of his adopted kinsmen, the tension between traditional religion and Mizeki’s work spreading the Gospel message coming to a tragic head.

Martyrs capture our imaginations. We may read about the great martyrs of the early church who endured shocking, inhuman treatment, and we can wonder at their strength of conviction, at their fearless resolve, at their seeming superhuman capacity. They were very close, in time and culture, to Jesus and his words from our Gospel lesson: “do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more” (Lk 12:4). As we read about these martyrs, it is easy for us to wonder at and admire them . . . and at the same time to handle them with a critical distance: then and now, them and us. Read More