Esther Helland’s father was an overcomer who founded Project Amazon (PAZ – meaning peace in Portuguese) that works in partnership with all organizations like Joyce Meyer Ministries and Samaritan’s Purse/Billy Graham Evangelistic Assoc. They were a big part in BGEA’s My Hope Project of 2008.
Esther’s father died in Brazil at the age of 44 in 1944. His by-plane hit a tail wind and crashed. Early in his life, he had a dream where Jesus asked if there was anyone in this crowd who would be willing to die for him. No one raised a hand except her dad. He woke up in sweat knowing he’d had a visitation from the Lord. His whole life he mentioned off and on to his family to expect him to die young. He knew he would be a martyr, but it was very difficult for his family.
Esther was born and raised in Brazil. Her brothers are leading in the planting of churches in all the little villages along the Amazon. Their mother remarried and is a missionary in Japan. Esther and her husband Aaron and their four children moved back there almost ten years ago. Their mission? To bring the vision to a close – for all of Brazil to be saved!
When the Hellands returned, it was estimated that only 35,000 more villages were left to be evangelized. Today, they have a Christian president and are close to seeing their Father’s vision materialized. And the family’s testimony lives on––with one member wearing a CROWN OF LIFE in heaven.
For an introduction to the 5 Eternal Crown Rewards and their meanings, with links to the article about them, click this link for a nice printable summary>>5 ETERNAL CROWN REWARDS.
THE OVERCOMER WILL RECEIVE REWARDS IN HEAVEN
All five crowns are referred to as imperishable and are victor crowns for those who overcome. Whether there are actually five crowns when we get to heaven, or all five are rolled up into the one CROWN OF LIFE, we will find out one day soon. For me, I want to know about all five mentioned in the Bible, so I can be ready to come face to face with Jesus––without any regrets. How about you?
The Crown of Life is described in Revelation 2:10: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” This crown is the reward for the Christian who is faithful until death – whether that death is natural or not.
The nickname for this crown is ‘the martyr’s crown’ which caught on early, because most Christians in the days after Jesus was martyred were martyred also. All the disciples were killed; one was not: John.
John was banished to the isle of Patmos because of his testimony of Jesus. He had a vision, wrote the book of Revelation and sent it to the seven churches in Asia. He later died and was buried in Ephesus as an old man.[i] It’s certain he received the crown of life as well.
The character and spiritual makeup of this Christian can be described as follows:
THE OVERCOMER PERSEVERES
To fully understand this crown, we need to read the full Scripture: To the persecuted church in Smyrna, John wrote: “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10: NKJV).
The root Greek word for tested is peirazō which means to try, to prove and “describes the testing of the believer’s loyalty, strength, opinions, disposition, condition, faith, patience of character. Peirazō determines which way one is going and what one is made of”[ii]
James 1:12 tells us this person is blessed because he preserves under trial; for once he has been approved [or passed the test], he will receive the crown of life.
Do you feel you’ve ever been in a trial where you know God was trying to see how you would respond––what you were made of?
THE OVERCOMER ENDURES UNDER TRIAL
Perseverance moves us to endurance under trial as James said. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24 what to expect in the days we are living in. The first sign of the times is deception; then, wars and rumors of wars; nations rising against nations; tribulation to be killed and hated by all nations for Jesus’ sake; betrayal and hate of one another; and false prophets will deceive many.
“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matt. 24:12-13).
The root word for endures is hupomeno: “to hold one’s ground in conflict, bear up against adversity, hold out under stress, stand firm, persevere under pressure, wait calmly and courageously. It is not passive resignation to fate and mere patience, but the active energetic resistance to defeat that allows calm and brave endurance.”[iii]
“Treasure your moments when you are the only one who believes, when you are the only one standing; you were just given a gift. In other words, if all you are left with is God, consider that a gift.” ––Brian Johnson
THE OVERCOMER PATIENTLY ENDURES UNTIL THE END
The apostle Paul wrote in Hebrews 6 that it was time to go on to perfection beyond the elementary principles of salvation. What follows salvation, or merely obtaining our ‘fire insurance’ is this:
10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end,
12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Paul goes on to recount the promise and blessings given to Abraham,
15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise [of multiplication,: a child, a nation, a land].
“Do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” This encompasses the character and disposition of the overcomer: This Christian is busy helping to care for others’ needs; not lazy, but 100 percent surrendered to Jesus Christ.
Overcomers from the Bible
So, let’s look at a few overcomers from the Bible in order to see some examples. What did they endure, and what was the result?
Heb. 11:2 Abel: by faith, obtained a good testimony and a witness that he was righteous. Being dead, he still speaks. He was the first martyr, killed by his brother Cain
Heb. 11:5 Enoch: by faith did not see death but was not found, his testimony was that he pleased God and God took him.
Heb. 11:7 Noah: By faith prepared the ark and saved his family, by which he condemned the world and obtained righteousness which comes by faith.
Heb. 11:39 “And all these obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise.”
Look at that! They did not receive the promise personally, but they endured by BEING faithful until death; thereby obtaining a good testimony that lives on and on to the next generation. Their lives still speak, and their testimony is recorded and bearing fruit–just as Missionary Helland’s life.
THE OVERCOMER CROWN-OF-LIFE REWARD GOES TO THE FAITHFUL MARTYR
The crown of life reward goes to martyrs and faithful Christians who endure and persevere until death. John records to the church at Pergamos in Revelation 2 about Antipas who was a faithful martyr.
The lives of faithful martyrs still speak in our present day: Remember the image of 21 Egyptian Christians with the orange jumpsuits facing beheading in 2015?
The Center for the Study of Global Christianity, an academic research center that monitors worldwide demographic trends in Christianity, estimates that between the years 2005 and 2015, 900,000 Christians were martyred — an average of 90,000 Christians each year.
The center explained the definition of “martyr” it used for its study. Two of the qualifying factors for “martyr” is that the slain Christians must have been in a “situation of witness” and have been killed “as a result of hostility.”[iv] They leave behind a testimony of a witness.
Before many martyrs accept Christ, they know they are facing immediate death. Evangelist Daniel Kolenda, of Christ for all Nations, reports of a young lady who accepted Jesus in his crusade in Muslim territory, returned home and was murdered by her father. Her witness lives on. Missionary Helland’s death was not immediate, but he knew what he was facing.
It’s impossible to name today’s many martyrs. Mainstream media ignores those martyred in Nigeria, who have no one to help them. During 2018, more than 6,000 were killed by Boko Haram, and genocide is threatening them.
Especially relevant, Revelation 6:11 says that martyrs in heaven are told to rest a little while longer until the full number of their fellow servants and brothers join them.
THE OVERCOMER CROWN-OF-LIFE REWARD GOES TO THE FAITHFUL SERVANT
Epaphras and Tychicus were hailed and recorded as faithful servants and bond-servants by Paul in the book of Colossians but not because they were martyred. Moses is said to have been faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony, yet, not a martyr. He gave his life for God’s mission to set His people free from bondage and take them to the Promised Land.
To two out of three servants, the master said twice in Chapter 25 of Matthew: “‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord’” (Matt. 25:21 and 23). The third was fearful and hid his talent.
No doubt the joy of the Lord is eternal rewards in heaven and joy on earth. Our goal is to hear these words from Jesus in Matthew 25..
THE OVERCOMER LOVES THE LORD
We must ask ourselves, is it possible to endure this hard life, persevere, pass every test, never deny the Lord’s name, and yet not receive any eternal reward?
John recorded Jesus’ words to the church at Ephesus: “You have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Rev. 2:3-4).
Jesus goes on to tell them and us to repent or else He will remove our lampstand from its place. He looks at the heart more than the works. He wants a relationship with us–not our religious works.
It all comes down to love, doesn’t it? We could be the most dedicated overcomer and faithful servant with all the faith in the world, but without love, we are nothing. (See 1 Corinthians 13.)
What are we made of? What is our character, our motives, our disposition? Do we love Jesus and others? Is what we are doing out of love or selfish ambition?
May we always look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin” (Heb. 12:3).
And they overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death––Rev. 12:11
He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more . . . . I will write on Him the name of My new name. Rev. 3:12
And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work––Rev. 21:12
HERE IS YOUR FREE PRINTABLE SUMMARY OF ALL FIVE CROWNS>>CROWN JUDGMENT SUMMARY
[i] The Time Chart of Biblical History, Third Millennium Trust, Chippenham, England, 2002, XXIX.
[ii] NKJV Spirit-Filled Life Bible Word Wealth, Rev. 2:10.
[iii] NKJV Spirit-Filled Life Bible Word Wealth, Matt. 24:13.