Pause to Say Goodbye: Christians Who Died in 2014

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Some well-known Christians died this year—along with many nameless believers who were martyred. (J. Lee Grady)

7. Ann B. Davis. The world knew this ditzy actress as the housekeeper Alice Nelson on ABC's 1970s sitcom The Brady Bunch. Few knew that she was also a charismatic Episcopalian who shared her testimony wherever she went. When she retired from show business she fully dedicated her life to ministry at a time when many Episcopalians were being baptized in the Holy Spirit. She told People magazine: "I'm convinced we all have a God-shaped space in us, and until we fill that space with God, we'll never know what it is to be whole." In her later years she led a Bible study at her home church in Texas. Unlike the maid she played on TV, she did not enjoy childcare or cooking. She died after a fall at age 88.

8. Richard Dobbins. He was both a Pentecostal and a psychologist—terms that do not often go together. But Dobbins, an Assemblies of God pastor and prolific author, believed that Pentecostals should do a better job addressing mental health challenges. He started a nonprofit Christian counseling ministry, Emerge, in 1973 after he realized there were few counselors who integrated faith and psychology. Also a local church pastor in Akron, Ohio, he broke new ground by offering counseling resources to ministers—who are often expected to have no emotional problems of their own. Dobbins was 86.

9. Maria Von Trapp. The last survivor of the seven Von Trapp children portrayed in The Sound of Music, Maria was called Louisa in the film to avoid confusion with her famous stepmother. When she contracted scarlet fever as a child, her father, Georg, decided to employ a governess, Maria, who was played by Julie Andrews in the film. The musical family fled the Nazis in Austria and came to the United States in 1938, where they purchased a lodge in Vermont and made it their base. Like her famous stepmother, Maria was influenced by the Catholic charismatic renewal movement of the 1970s and spent 30 years as a missionary in Papua New Guinea. She was 99.

10. The martyrs of 2014. Perhaps the most "famous" people on this list are the ones we forget. In November, Sajjad and Saima Massih, a Christian couple in Pakistan, were beaten and then thrown alive into a brick kiln near the city of Lahore. They were falsely accused of blaspheming Islam—and incinerated. Hundreds of thousands of people like the Massihs were killed for their Christian faith in 2014 in places such as Nigeria, Syria and Iraq—where 40,000 have reportedly died at the hands of ISIS terrorists. Mark Arabo, a spokesman for Iraqi Christians, told CNN in August that Islamic militants were beheading children of Christian parents. "The world hasn't seen an evil like this for a generation. There's actually a park in Mosul that they've actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick," Arabo said.

All of these people made a mark on the world because of their faith. I pray you will do the same in 2015. Happy New Year.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His newest book is The Truth Sets Women Free (Charisma House). You can learn more about his ministry, The Mordecai Project, at themordecaiproject.org

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