Date: October 20, 2015
Egypt (MNN) — The foundation stone was laid this week for a church in Egypt dedicated to the 21 Christians who were murdered by militants allied to ISIS earlier this year.
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gave permission shortly after the February slayings, but work was delayed due to Muslim opposition. More to the point, says E3 Partners Middle East expert Tom Doyle, “al-Sisi, the leader, has taken a strong stand. And even when the 21 Egyptians were killed on the beach in Libya, he ordered air strikes against Libya.” El Sisi has taken a dim view of extremist groups, which has been good for Christians. “There seems to be a temporary reprieve because the government is hitting hard against any of the Muslim groups that have been after Christians.” The situation for people of the Cross has improved somewhat, but it’s not over. “There’s still strong Islamic brotherhood and other groups within the country that are actively going after Christians.”
Referring to the video of the grisly slayings on 15 February, the video was the latest example of the ruthless persecution the Church faces around the world. It was meant to terrorize, but Doyle says, “This, for the body of Christ, was victory. Revelation 12:11 says, ‘They conquered him [the enemy] by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimonies. They did not love life more than death.’” In fact, ISIS threw everything they had at these Christians. They didn’t bend. They didn’t recant. “They stood firm for Jesus. The last words on their lips were ‘Jesus, I love you. Jesus, forgive these killers.’”
The video backfired in Egypt. What was meant to intimidate Christians into silence instead rallied and united the body of Christ. Doyle says people of the Cross realized that “this isn’t a war against us. Jesus said, ‘They’re going to hate you because they hate Me.’ This is a bigger war. This is a war on Jesus, and we just want to show them that we’re standing shoulder to shoulder with them.” But how?
On November 1, Christians across the globe will observe the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. This special day is an opportunity to stand as one with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Doyle adds that during that week, through E3 Partners, a delegation will take notes of encouragement, prayer, and more to these 21 families of the 21 men who were murdered for their faith in Christ. “We want to hand-deliver these letters to the families, to the widows, to the fathers and mothers that lost their sons, and just tell them that the body of Christ stands with them. We’re praying for them; we want to send them a verse of encourage and just want to let them know that we walk side by side with them.”
Yet, the reassurance and comfort flows both ways. Doyle says one of the mothers asked, “‘How is it that we were given the high honor to have someone in our family die for Jesus as a martyr? We miss him. We love him. We can’t wait to see him again, but we’re so honored that God would use our family to help somehow bring the body of Christ together.’” Church leaders who visited the families meant to comfort and encourage. “But the families charged them and refreshed them in their faith. They were pretty overwhelmed after meeting them.”
They are standing with us as much as we are standing with them, united in Christ. If you want to send a short note to the families, click here to get started. Once the E3 team gets your e-mail, they’ll print it out and pack it up for the delegation to deliver.
Earlier we mentioned the IDOP Sunday, a worldwide prayer vigil for believers under fire. You can also follow the 8thirty8 network on Facebook to get the latest about how to pray for persecuted Christians around the world.
And finally, your support of any amount will help E3 Partners care for the persecuted and partner with them to advance the Gospel.