Nicholas secretly threw money into a home to keep two girls from being sold to a brothel. Using his inheritance to help the poor, he boldly followed in Christ's footsteps, once even grabbing an executioner's sword to save the life of a political prisoner. His fearless Christian stand caused many to hate him.

On February 23 in the year 303, the Emperor Diocletian began one of the longest, most brutal persecutions of Christians. Bibles were burned. Christians' homes were confiscated and their furniture was thrown in the street. So many Christian men and women were murdered that executioners were exhausted and took turns at their work.

During these years of persecution, Nicholas was imprisoned and branded with hot irons. He was pinched with metal pliers. After his skin healed he would be tortured again for refusing to deny that Jesus is God.

After the persecution ended, a popular preacher taught that Jesus was not God. This preacher wrote a blasphemous song about Jesus that many began singing in the street. This anti-Christian doctrine was dividing the organized church.

At a conference of Christian leaders, many of whom had survived the torture, the evil preacher began singing the evil song. Nicholas walked up to the man and hit him in the mouth! Perhaps he felt as Jesus did in the temple with the moneychangers.

Nicholas was not allowed to preach after that but spent his last years of life founding orphanages and protecting poor children.

Many years after his death, Nicholas was called Saint Nicholas. The details of his fearless Christian witness were then buried under centuries of storytelling changing him to "Santa Claus." Covered by God's love, Nicholas suffered abuse as he chose to follow Christ. His life was a gift to others and to God, as ours should be.

From The Voice of the Martyrs Newsletter, December 1996. Used with permission.

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