After they had been tried, found guilty, and sentenced to die, 26 Christians were marched to the place where crudely made crosses stood.
Almost 3 months earlier they had been arrested in Kyoto, Japan and been charged with following Christ. One of them was Ibaragi Kun. Seeing how young Ibaragi was, an officer took him aside and urged him to recant his faith to save his life. Looking the officer in the eye, Kun said confidently, “Sir,it would be far better if you yourself became a Christian. Then you could go with me to Heaven.” (I imagine he was smiling as he said it.) The officer stared, startled by the young man’s faith. Finally Ibaragi broke the silence and asked “Sir, which cross is mine?”.
The bewildered officer slowly pointed to the smallest of the 26 crosses. Young Kun ran to it knelt before it and embraced it. When the soldiers began to nail his hands and feet to the cross he did not cry out in pain. He courageously accepted the path that was laid before him. The crucifixion of the 26 Christians on November 23,1596 was the beginning of an intense period of persecution in Japan. In the next seventy years close to one million Japanese believers laid their lives down for their faith. Many would embrace their own crosses to follow the example of young Ibaragi Kun: a mighty man of God, a martyr, a 12-year-old.
Writing that you might joyfully & willingly embrace your cross, because God embraced His,
Story adapted from “Extreme Devotion”, VOM. http://www.persecution.com/