The Coptic Church of Egypt has always faced persecution, contempt, and even death within their own borders. Now, ISIS is targeting those who are living abroad, demonstrating their demonic force with the execution of 21 of them in a video released Sunday.
The finger pointing has already begun. Some are blaming the Egyptian government for not acting quickly enough. Others are blaming the UN for allowing the recognized government in Libya to stand on its own against threats of revolution and an underreported rise of ISIS control in the region. For us, it’s a time to pray and support our brothers and sisters who are in the middle of a raging war against Christians.
Our prayers should be for the family of the victims and those in harm’s way, of course, but we cannot forget the most important aspect of their struggle. We must pray that they have the strength to maintain their allegiance to Yeshua, Lord and Savior. When faced with life and death situations as many of them are, it can be difficult to maintain the faith. Nobody wants to die, but the threat of death because of their faith cannot be successful at making them waver. They must remain loyal in the face of death or save this life while abandoning the next.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.Matthew 16:25 (KJV)
It is easy to drive our SUVs to church every Sunday and say we’re being faithful. Very few in western society are faced with the choice of death or renouncing Yeshua, but it’s something that is always possible in the Middle East and other places around the world. Just because our challenges are much smaller than those in areas of persecution does not mean that it will always be that way. It is sad that these people were killed for their faith, but they will be rewarded at the time of judgment.
Can we hold as true to the faith as the victims of ISIS did? It’s not something at the top of mind for most in America today, but we must prepare for a day when that question may be asked of us.