The Blood of the Martyrs

copts1By Steve Beard

“They were stoned, they were sawn in two; they were put to death with the sword. They [were] … destitute, afflicted, ill-treated – the world was not worthy of them.” Hebrews 11:37

Added to the ever increasing list of demonic atrocities conducted by ISIS was last week’s beheading of 21 young Coptic Christian martyrs on a beach in Libya.

“Jesus help me” were the final words from many of these Egyptian believers.

“To the last moment, the name of Jesus was on their lips,” Hana Aziz told CNN. Aziz was in the next room when his nephew and uncle were kidnapped by masked ISIS terrorists. “As they were being martyred, they were calling God’s name, saying, ‘God, have mercy on us.’ The entire village is proud.” Thirteen of the men in their 20s were from a village called Al Aour, 125 miles south of Cairo.

“The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard,” Pope Francis said. “It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ.”

Calling into SAT-7 Arabic Christian channel show, Beshir Kamel was grateful that ISIS failed to edit out the declarations of faith in Jesus Christ of the dying men in the brutal video. Kamel had two brothers who were martyred on the Libyan beach. He said that their faithfulness unto death “had strengthened his own faith.”

“Since the Roman era, Christians have been martyred and have learned to handle everything that comes our way,” Kamel said. “This only makes us stronger in our faith because the Bible told us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us,” he said.

“As we recall these brothers who died only because they confessed Christ,” said the Pope. “I ask that we encourage each other to go forward with this ecumenism which is giving us strength, the ecumenism of blood. The martyrs belong to all Christians,” he concluded.

Steve Beard is editor of Good News.