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They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. Heb.11:37-38
My Brothers and Sisters,
On this day, 3 years ago, the Islamic State terror group (ISIS) shared video footage of 21 followers of Jesus being martyred on the shores of Libya. The 20 Egyptian men and 1 from Chad/also linked to Ghana, had traveled to Libya for jobs as laborers to make a living and care for their families back home. They were captured and had their throats slit by ISIS for being ‘people of the Cross’. Each one died with the name of Jesus on their lips.
Shortly after this tragedy, the Bible Society Egypt quickly printed and distributed a scripture tract with encouraging verses and promise of blessing amid suffering to the nation. More than 1.6 million copies of the tract called, Two Rows by the Sea” was printed and shared with the churches. It was designed to be given to any Egyptian and included Bible verses to comfort the mourning and challenge people to commit to Christ.
In response to their execution, the tract also included a poem written by Dr Shady George. In the link below a brother reads this moving poem in his heart language of Arabic, but with English subtitles.
Based on the poem, a dear sister put together a beautiful music video remembering these martyrs of Jesus.
Richard Wurmbrand had often commented that it was never considered a first century church service unless the martyrs were remembered. Dear saints, let us remember those who paid the ultimate price in following their Savior, the martyrs, the witnesses of Jesus who lay down their lives on the altar and slain for the word of God and the testimony that they maintain. For sure they will be honored by Jesus and receive the reward of their inheritance.
Then I saw thrones and they sat on them and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, Rev. 20:4
Posted in honor of those who have been slain for Jesus.
Serving as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch,
Cairo – The Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II canceled yesterday, for the third consecutive time, the weekly meeting of public prayer and catechesis he held every Wednesday afternoon in the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo.
On announcing the cancellation of the meeting, the Secretary General of the Council of Churches in Egypt Fr. Bishoy Helmy justified the cancellation on behalf of the Patriarch by making explicit reference to the current difficult moment the country is facing, affected by the violence that followed the overthrow of Morsi’s government and the beginning of a new phase of political transition under the protection of the army.
“Since June 30” explains to Fides Agency the Coptic Catholic Bishop of Minya Botros Fahim Awad Hanna,
“Pope Tawadros avoids appearing in public, not so much because he fears for his life, but because he does not want people to gather for fear that some fool could throw a few bombs. At the moment there are those who accuse Christians of being responsible of the popular uprising of 30 June.”
According to Egyptian sources consulted by Fides, the Ministry of the Interior has given order to increase the levels of protection around Pope Tawadros and the Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al Tayyeb. Both the Patriarch and the Imam had appeared at the side of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on July 3, when the strong man of the Egyptian army had exposed the transition plan for the next phase to the deposition of Islamist President Morsi.
In the clashes that followed Morsi’s arrest, 6 Copts were killed by gangs of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis. In the transitional government presented on Tuesday, July 16, there are 3 Copts ministers out of 33: environment Minister Laila Rashed Iskandar, tourism Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour and scientific research Minister Ramsi George.
Archbishops pledge solidarity with Christians in Egypt
Following fresh turmoil in Egypt, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have sent a message of ‘committed solidarity’ to Pope Tawadros II and Bishop Mouneer in Cairo
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have joined the call for prayers for unity, reconciliation and an end to violence in Egypt.
Archbishop Justin Welby and Archbishop Dr John Sentamu wrote to the Coptic and Anglican leaders in Cairo today, pledging their ‘committed solidarity’ amid the recent turmoil in the country.
Writing to His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and to the Most Revd Mouneer Anis, the President-Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Archbishops said they had been ‘very mindful of recent developments taking place in Egypt’ as they presided over the Church of England’s General Synod in York this weekend.
They added they were ‘very grateful’ for the presence of Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of The Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, who attended Synod as an ecumenical observer and spoke powerfully of the present situation in Egypt and his hopes for reconciliation.
The Archbishops wrote:
‘As Presidents of the General Synod, we are sending this message of committed solidarity with you at this time. We join in the call to pray for Egypt for unity and reconciliation and the ending to all violence, praying that all parties may be able to work together for a common future.’ They added: ‘May the Lord grant you grace and strength in this ministry of reconciliation.’
Egypt president promises to fight chaos before pro-Mursi rallies
The Muslim Brotherhood plans to demand the return of the ousted Islamic leader Mohamed Mursi. They have stirred up supporters to protest against the military overthrow this Friday, July 19.
Egypt’s new interim President, Adli Mansour vows to fight anyone steering the nation towards chaos.
“We are going through a critical stage and some want us to move towards chaos and we want to move towards stability. Some want a bloody path,” he said in a televised address. “We will fight a battle for security until the end.”
The Brotherhood along with the Alliance for Legitimacy groups shocked and against the new military-backed government, called for rallies on Friday, planning on millions to take to the streets. A statement by the alliance said,
“To every free Egyptian man and woman: Come out against the bloody military coup.”
A Brotherhood official, Gehad el-Haddad recently stated the organization would not retreat from its demand for the reinstatement of Mursi. Brotherhood had proposed through an EU envoy a framework for talks to resolve the crisis in Egypt and are now showing a willingness for negotiations. “We never close the door to dialogue,” Haddad added.
The EU envoy, Bernardino Leon, said the two sides remained far apart. It is hard to imagine the army letting Mursi return to power. The military has denied orchestrating a coup, saying it intervened to prevent chaos following mammoth protests on June 30 against Mursi’s much-criticized, year-long rule.
Egypt, the most populous nation in the Arab world, is a strategic hinge between the Middle East and North Africa and has long been a vital U.S. ally in the region. (Although in a recent statement, President Obama said, the U.S. would no longer consider the Egyptian government an ally, “but we don’t consider them an enemy.” Later, The State Department, cutting through the confusion over President Obama’s claim that Egypt is not a U.S. ally, contradicted his characterization when spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, Egypt is considered a major ‘non-NATO’ ally.)
Worried about war, the African Union warned on Thursday that Egypt was in being immersed by civil war unless its government embraced Islamists, none of whom were included in the 33-strong cabinet.
Nour party spokesman Nader Bakkar told Reuters,
“I believe that those in power need to realize that increasing pressure on the Muslim Brotherhood and playing down the emotions of their supporters will lead to extremely bad results.”
A security source told the official Middle East News Agency that policing would be intensified at “all important and vital facilities” on Friday.
Tamarud, the movement which organized the massive anti-Mursi protests, has also called for rallies on Friday, including one close to a Cairo intersection where thousands of Brotherhood supporters have been holding a vigil for weeks.
It called the rallies “the people against terrorism”, blaming Mursi followers for recent violence.
Three members of the security forces died overnight in attacks blamed on Islamist militants in the Sinai peninsula, which borders Israel and the Gaza Strip. The militants have pledged to continue the fight until the return of Mursi, who has been held in an undisclosed location since his downfall.
Among the many accusations leveled against Mursi was mismanagement of the economy. The budget deficit has soared to about $3.2 billion a month, foreign reserves are more than 50 percent below their December 2010 levels and unemployment is more than 13 percent.
Bread has traditionally been one of Egypt’s most explosive issues and an ex-minister from Mursi’s government said last week that the country had less than two months’ supply of imported wheat in its stocks, well below its preferred six-month supply.
Looking to narrow the shortfall, Egypt’s main wheat-buying agency, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), bought 300,000 tonnes of wheat from global suppliers – only the second such purchase since February.
The cash-strapped government got a fillip with the arrival of the UAE aid, part of $12 billion that Gulf Arab states pledged after Mursi’s removal. Saudi Arabia is due to transfer $2 billion in the coming days, Egypt’s central bank said.
The funds should buy the cabinet time to try and fix Egypt’s numerous problems, although analysts have warned it might also persuade officials to delay difficult decisions needed to right the listing economy.
Concern for the safety of Egypt’s Christians grow by the day. Pray the rallies remain peaceful and for the protection of the Christian Community that has been targeted and caught in the middle!
Morning Star News reports a Priest, four others slain; more violence expected over Ramadan.
CAIRO, Egypt, July 8, 2013 (Morning Star News) – Following the shooting death of a priest in Northern Sinai, Christians in Upper Egypt and elsewhere are living in fear after four Coptic Christians were killed near Luxor in the wake of the deposing of Mohamed Morsi as president.
“I am too scared to leave – I haven’t been able to go outside my house for four days,” said Maria, a Coptic woman in her 30s who attends the Church of the Virgin Mary in Luxor, which Salafist mobs have attacked unsuccessfully several times since June 30. She requested her last name be withheld for security reasons.
A funeral service was held Sunday (July 7) for the four Christians killed in a village outside of Luxor. In Al Dabaya on Friday, Islamists attacked Coptic Christian Emil Naseem Saroufeem, 42; for reasons that remain unknown, they blamed Saroufeem for the death of Hassan Sayyed Segdy, a Muslim whose body had been found earlier that day, according to a human rights worker and other sources. Saroufeem was known to be a supporter of the Tamard or “Rebel” movement that began gathering in cities across Egypt on June 30 to demonstrate against Morsi of the Freedom and Justice Party, created by the Muslim Brotherhood.
A mob formed and began beating Saroufeem, who escaped briefly when two relatives, Mouhareb Noushy Habib, 38, and Romany Noushy, 33, hid him, according to Safwat Samaan, a director at human rights group Nation Without Limits. The rabble caught up with the three Christians in the apartment of Rasem Tawadrous Aqladios, 56. Saroufeem and Aqladios were bludgeoned to death. The other two, Habib and Noushy, died when they were beaten and repeatedly stabbed, Samaan and others told Morning Star News.
The assailants then turned their attention to other Coptic villagers, beating many of them, and then looting and burning down their homes. Three other Copts were seriously wounded, according to Samaan and others.
In all, roughly 20 homes were destroyed. The village is calm now, but most of the Christian residents have left and are homeless because they are too afraid to return or have no homes to return to.
Samaan said it was very difficult to pinpoint the cause of the attack, saying a mix of religious, political and possibly even criminal motives may all have been factors.
“The situation is calm there now,” he said, “but there are about 95 Christian families that are staying at the church of Mar Youhana because they are too scared to go back. Also, a lot of these people had their homes burned down, and if not that, a lot of them had their houses torn apart and looted. The church is trying to get them to return home, but a lot of them are refusing.”
In Qena and Luxor in Upper Egypt, scattered attempts to attack churches took place over the weekend with little success. At the Church of the Virgin Mary and the Church of the Archangel Michael, both in Luxor, soldiers pushed away several such Islamist attempts.
As Ramadan approaches, survivors of the attacks and other Copts were girding themselves for this year’s fasting season, historically a time of spikes in attacks on Christians in Egypt and the Middle East. Political tensions could exacerbate the usual increase.
“In general, I think the attacks on Christians will increase,” said Samaan, “as there have been more threats to attack churches. People from the Muslim Brotherhood are taking it upon themselves to wage jihad to defend Morsi and their religion.”
In all, dozens of homes and businesses were burned to the ground, a handful of churches were attacked, and one church guest-house was destroyed, human rights activists said, in attacks meant to punish Christians for their alleged part in a supposed conspiracy to unseat Morsi.
“Copts understand and know very well there is a price that has to be paid, and what the Muslim Brotherhood people are saying is stirring people up against the Copts, even though the Copts were just participating in democracy just like everyone else,” said Ishak Ibrahim, freedom of religion and belief officer at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
On Wednesday (July 3), Egypt’s military chief announced that then-President Morsi had been deposed. In the weeks leading up to the demonstrations against Morsi by millions, Islamists had issued threats against Christians, whom they held responsible for the movement.
Hours after the military made the announcement that Morsi had been deposed, the Islamists attacked. The last attack happened on Saturday (July 6) in the town of Arish in Northern Sinai, when masked gunmen shot and killed the Rev. Mina Aboud Sharubim in front of a church-owned building, according to the Coptic Watani Weekly. No reason has been given for the attack.
The 39-year-old Sharubim was buried today (July 8) after a service in Heliopolis, a suburb of Cairo. He had been ordained a few months more than a year ago.
All photos by Morning Star News