â€œThey were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated, the world was not worthy of them.â€ (Hebrews 11:37- 38)
This is a very sad time in Egypt where we are in seven days of official mourning for the 21 young Christian men who were brutally slaughtered by ISIS in Libya on Sunday. The gruesome, professionally-produced video of that execution shocked the country and has united Christians and Muslims as never before. As soon as the video was broadcast on Sunday evening, the President delivered a speech declaring 7 days of mourning for the nation. Shortly afterwards the Egyptian Air Force bombed ISIS targets in Libya.
As I arrived at the Bible Society office in the morning, feeling sad and depressed, I met a young coworker who told me that she was â€œvery encouraged.â€ I could not imagine what on earth could encourage her!
â€œI am encouragedâ€ she said, â€œbecause now I know that what we have been taught in history books about Egyptian Christians being martyred for their faith is not just history but that there are Christians today who are brave enough to face death rather than deny their Lord! When I saw these young men praying as they were being prepared for execution and then many of them shouting â€œO Lord Jesusâ€ as their throats were being slit, I realized that the Gospel message can still help us to hold on to the promises of God even when facing death!â€
This same sentiment is being reflected in different ways by people who watched that gruesome video!
I donâ€™t think I will ever read Chapter 11 of the Epistle to the Hebrews again without seeing in my mind the images of these men dressed in orange jump suits with black-clad, masked executors behind each one of them!
As many of you know, these men were simple, Egyptian laborers who had gone to Libya to make a living. They were captured and executed by ISIS for being - as the video caption charges - â€œPeople of the Crossâ€. Egyptians have been shocked by this news and it is the most talked about event in our country at this time.
The purpose of the video was to foment sectarian strife in Egypt between Christians and Muslims. Those Islamic extremists clearly intended to provoke the 10 million Christians in Egypt to rise up violently against their Muslim neighbors.
But the loving and caring response of Muslims all over the nation softened the blow which many Christians felt. Up till now the Christians of Egypt have responded with restraint, sorrowfully calling out to God.
The President and dozens of political leaders personally gave their condolences to the Coptic Pope. The Prime Minister travelled to the small village where most of these men come from, sitting on the floor with their poor relatives to express his concern. All this sends a clear message that Christians are considered an integral part of the fabric of Egyptian society.
1. Pray for comfort for the families of the victims who are in a terrible emotional state.
2. Pray for the effective mass distribution of a Scripture tract we have just produced (above left), that Godâ€™s Word will comfort and challenge the many who will receive it.
3. As I write, there is news of more Egyptians being kidnapped in Libya. Lord have mercy!
Please pray for Egypt as we pass through this painful period.
With much thanks,
The Bible Society of Egypt
P.S. For CNN news coverage, please click here.