One of the greatest assurances Christians have, no matter where they live in the world, is that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. What a wonderful promise. This week, particularly, many Christians in Egypt are holding desperately close to this love as they grieve the loss of 21 of their own.
A jihadist group linking themselves with the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS – formerly known as ISIS) released a video on Sunday 15 February showing the beheading of the Egyptian Coptic Christian men on a beach in Libya. The men were captured in two separate kidnappings – in December 2014 and January 2015.
With Egyptians desperate for jobs in a country where opportunities are not always plentiful, one of the only options is to travel to neighbouring Libya looking for work. In this incidence, the men – a number of whom were related to one another – were all taken from the coastal town of Sirte in eastern Libya. The jihadists had first confirmed what religion was written on the men’s I.D. cards before taking them hostage and allowing their Muslim co-workers to go free.
Christians in Egypt have shown remarkable grace to those who have most recently devastated their community, one that has known increasing persecution within its own country in recent years. Coptic Christians make up around 15% of Egypt’s population.
“From the Egyptian church to ISIS: we love you and have pity on you, and pray that God may open your eyes so that you can see the true light in Jesus Christ,” an Egyptian pastor was quoted as saying a day after the release of the video. “We’re not intimidated by your threats. Death is a vanquished enemy for us, vanquished by the power of The Christ, in his resurrection from the dead. We are not armed and we’re not militant but our prayers are stronger than all your weapons.”
We can take comfort from the words of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39
Would you join us in prayer for the members of Islamic State, and for all those who persecute Christians?
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– Egypt seeks international help against IS after 21 Copts beheaded