My previous two entries have been historical accounts of people who lost their lives for their faith in the area of England where I spent my childhood.
I now want to make note of another martyrdom that was even closer to home than those above, it happened almost exactly 20 years ago, in August 1989.
I met Jackie Hamill in the mid 1980s. She was a student at the bible college run by Vision Ministries Australia, which at the time was based in Parramatta to the west of Sydney.
The college held regular Saturday night meetings that were open to the public and every couple of weeks I’d make the hour and a half drive to attend. Jackie always made sure that my friends and I felt welcome with her cheerful greeting. Of all of the students, she is the only one I remembered, so it was quite a shock when years later I saw her on the evening news.
She was huddled with a group of people taken hostage by rioting prisoners at a Philippines Jail. In the news footage, the group were being shuffled around the front of a building at gunpoint. Jackie and the others had been taking the gospel to the inmates of the prison when the riot began.
According to reports, she and other female hostages were raped repeatedly, yet witnesses said that throughout the horrific ordeal she continued to sing praise to God and to share the gospel with the others present.
After three days there was a shootout between the prisoners and the authorities. In the exchange Jackie was mortally wounded but continued to sing until her life finally slipped away.
A more vivid account and other details can be found at the following links (but note the dating inaccuracy found in one report: