When ISIS released its gruesome propaganda video depicting the slaughter of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya in early 2015, little did they realise that it would become a powerful symbol of Christian victory over devil-inspired slaughter.
The intended ‘victory’ proclaimed was instantly nullified by the steadfast voices of the 21, putting their trust in Christ to sustain them, not in whispers but in shouts, “Yasouh, Yasouh, Jesus, Jesus”, for the world to see and hear. It echoed in living colour the prophecy in Revelation 20:4 – ‘And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus, and because of the word of God.’ But also the promise in Rev. 2:10 – ‘Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.’
The beheadings resulted in unprecedented sympathy for Egypt’s Christians, who are increasingly finding common identity across denominational lines. The martyrdoms have also allowed Copts a platform to witness to the realities of their faith, as they publicly forgave the terrorists. A few days after the slaughter, the brother of two of the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded presented an extraordinary message of grace to the killers. Beshir Kamel thanked ISIS for including the men’s declaration of belief in Jesus, saying it had strengthened his own faith. Then, asked if he would
forgive his brothers’ murderers, he said that his mother would open her home to the men, and ask God to open their eyes. He even prayed for the men involved, asking God that they would be saved.
The golden thread running through these stories is this remarkable notion of forgiveness, even in the face of unspeakable horror. People who’ve been directly bereaved, whose lives as they knew it are over, expressing grace, forgiveness and peace to the very people who caused their pain. “What kind of power produces that much strength?” asks columnist Martin Saunders of Christian Today. “I don’t think we should underestimate the power of this reaction. In the face of brutal radicalism, forgiveness is an even more radical response, that might ultimately throw ISIS’ plans and ideology off course.”
Source: Joel News International
Bible Study: Ephesians 4:31-32
MAY Pray DEEPER for grace to forgive in your own life. Knowing the blood-bought grace which Christ has won for you, who can you show mercy to today?