THE TWENTIETH DAY OF FEBRUARY IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN
Last Sunday, the jihadist group calling itself ISIS (The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) martyred 21 young Egyptian Christians working in Libya, one of Egypt’s four next-door neighbor states.
Ramez Atallah, a leader in gospel outreach worldwide, is general director of the Bible Society of Egypt. Within days of the executions, Atallah published an article in the Society’s Newsletter titled “A MESSAGE SIGNED WITH BLOOD,” which he addressed to fellow-Christians everywhere as “THE NATION OF THE CROSS.” In the article, Atallah notes the faithfulness unto death of these simple believers, reports that this barbaric act has strengthened the resolve of other followers of Jesus, and requests prayers for Egyptian Christians and for their country.
The martyrs were murdered on Sunday, and Atallah arrived at his Bible Society office on Monday with a heavy heart. Then he met a coworker who said she was “very encouraged.” He could not imagine why, and she explained. “Now I know that . . . Egyptian Christians being martyred for their faith is not just history,” she said; “there are Christians today who are brave enough to face death rather than deny their Lord!”
If the executions were intended to trigger religious violence between Egypt’s Muslim majority and its tiny Christian minority (est. 10%), it appears that the atrocity so far has had the opposite effect. Almost immediately after Egyptian television broadcast the video of the simultaneous executions, the President of Egypt officially declared seven days of national mourning. The Prime Minister personally traveled to the home village of most of the 21 martyred men, where he paid respects and offered words of comfort to their families. Rather than hating their Muslim neighbors, says Atallah, many Christians have turned to God in prayer, and many Muslims have shown care and concern for the Christians.
In closing, Atallah asks all Christians to pray for the martyrs’ families; for God’s blessing on a Scripture tract that the Bible Society of Egypt is about to distribute; and for Egypt and for all its people during “this painful period.” (See the original article here, or go to http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=017b6b7c5bf6d7468fcc6aedc&id=ea8fa5435c .)