The twenty-one Coptic martyrs have been making the news all over the world, including in the United States, where our president refers to them as "Egyptian citizens" rather than as Christians. Not many have been quick to connect their deaths with tomorrow's feast, the feast of the Forty Martyrs. There is a strong connection, one that exceeds Apologetics or bad sermons.
One of the Coptic martyrs was not a Coptic Christian at all. Matthew Ayariga converted on the spot and joined the twenty Coptic Orthodox in dying with the words "Lord Jesus Christ" on their lips. Tomorrow we remember forty soldiers of the Roman army who were found to be Christians while on duty in Sebaste, Armenia. The Romans compelled their own soldiers to stand on a frozen lake until hypothermia set in and they died. One could not endure and rejected martyrdom in favor of a hot bath. Moved by the remaining thirty-nine, the watchman declared himself now a Christian, stripped his clothes, and joined the others in the lake to freeze.
Love of Christ will gain more conversions, either by human friendship or great martyrdoms, than all the "apologetics" we can muster.