GOD’S MARTYRS IMPACTING THE WORLD FOR HIM

A new book to be released Friday takes a look at the lives of the 21 Christian men the world saw being beheaded on a Libyan beach in 2015 and how their deaths at the hands of the Islamic State only strengthened the faith of believers in their hometown.

Martyrs are the seeds of Christianity. The brutal death of these men has served to reveal the true nature of the god of Islam.

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The world was appalled when the brutal terrorist group released footage showing the 21 men — all but one being migrants from Egypt — being led to the shore of a Libyan beach near Sirte dressed in orange jumpsuits.

The video came at the height of the Islamic State’s reign of terror that wreaked havoc in places like Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Egypt, and Libya and showcased how brutal and atrocious the jihadi death cult could be.

Iconic photographs and screenshots taken from that Islamic State propaganda video are all over the internet showing the 21 men on their knees with their backs toward the Mediterranean Sea. Behind each of the 21 men was an Islamic State militant standing with a knife that would be used to cut off their heads, thus sending a message to the world.

Four years later, the martyrdom of those 21 men is not forgotten in Upper Egypt as all 21 have been canonised as martyr saints by the Coptic Church.

“You get the feeling in Upper Egypt that they are not in an Islamic country at all. It is a Christian country,” popular German novelist Martin Mosebach told The Christian Post in a recent phone interview. “It’s mixed in a society there with Muslims but the Christians in Upper Egypt are the majority.”

The new book, The 21 – A Journey into the Land of Coptic Martyrs, is the account of Mosebach’s journey to El-Aour.

“It is a very dirty village. It is a very poor and primitive village,” Mosebach explained, adding that the Coptic villagers there are very strong and knowledgeable in their faith.

Although Christians in Upper Egypt are always under the threat of persecution, as Egypt has been under Islamic rule for 1,400 years, the faith of the Coptic Church as founded by St. Mark has been unwavering and continues to remain strong today, according to Mosebach.

“These communities and congregations are very educated and know the faith,” he explained. “In the spirituality of the Copts, miracles are a very important thing.”

In El-Aour, Mosebach said, “everybody is talking about miracles.”

According to Mosebach, numerous miracle stories have built up around the 21 martyrs in El-Aour. Some stories include the martyrs being credited with saving children who fall out of windows, curing sick people and even healing a woman of infertility.

“Miracles didn’t save the [21] from decapitation but did prove that their sacrifices had made them Christlike and therefore accepted as such,” Mosebach wrote.

One miracle involved the son of one of the martyrs. The son was said to have fallen onto the street from the third floor of a building, causing him to break his arm in multiple places. When the son regained consciousness, he claimed that his now-dead father had caught him. Days later, the son’s X-rays reportedly did not show any fractures.

According to Mosebach, the term “miracle” is used by the Coptic community as the “next explanation for any phenomenon they see.”

“Everything that has happened is according to the will of God,” Mosebach told CP. “The miracles are also now seen with the martyrs, which the martyrs heal people.”

Although the Coptic community has faced much persecution throughout its history that continues today, Mosebach explained that Copts do not consider themselves to be victims and do not seek revenge.

He added that the villagers in El-Aour are proud of the martyrs for standing strong and dying for their faiths.

The mothers who lost their sons at the hands of the Islamic State know that their sons are now “crowned kings in Heaven,” Mosebach said.

“You can go to every family in this region. They will tell you the same thing,” Mosebach explained. “That they are ready for martyrdom and they wait for the martyrdom and they are proud of the martyrs. They say that ‘our church is the church of the martyrs.’ Martyrs are the seeds of Christianity. As long as people are killed for Christianity, the church is living and not dead.”

Although El-Aour is a poor and primitive village, it is now a destination for Coptic Christians across the region.

Following the beheading of the 21 Copts, Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ordered the construction of The Church of the Martyrs of Faith and Homeland in El-Aour. The church has become a pilgrimage site as it is the final resting spot for the bodies of the Coptic martyrs.

According to Mosebach, some Christians travel as far as 350 miles to come to see the church.

“Now it has become a real pilgrimage village, with a hotel and stops to buy pictures and memories of the martyred,” Mosebach said of Al-Aour.

Mosebach’s book was originally published in German last year. It will be released in English for the first time on Friday.

 

A MESSAGE TO ALL PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS

A Coptic Christian church’s worship service turned into a blood bath after a gunman opened fire, killing at least 11 people.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, and many Christians were left wondering if they will ever be safe enough to worship Christ without fearing terrorism.

One young girl, Nesma Wael, was there when the attack happened and wrote a heartfelt message to the world published by BeeCatholic

“After Mass ended, I left the church with my cousin and my mother. My mom wore a cross around her neck, and all three of us were not wearing veils. In poorer neighborhoods, Muslim women often wear veils so they are distinguished from Christian women.

“As we turned into a side street, we saw someone on a motorcycle heading toward the church. The next thing we knew, the man crashed his bike after hitting a pothole. My mother ran up to him to help, reassuring him, as she said: ‘In the name of the Jesus Christ, are you okay?’ He got up quickly and in a blink of an eye he opened fire on us with an automatic weapon he pulled out from under his vest.

“As soon as my cousin and I saw the weapon, we hid behind mom, who shouted at us to run away; the terrorist first shot her in the arm, while she was trying to protect us; as we ran away, she fell down and could not escape with us. The distance between us and the terrorist when he first took out his machine gun was no more than a few feet. My cousin and I ran into a small supermarket, where the sales girl hid us behind the refrigerator; from our hiding spot, we watched the attacker looking for us. When he couldn’t find us he turned to mom again and fired more shots at her.

“All this happened in a few minutes. After the gunman left, we ran to my mother. Many people had gathered, but they all refused to touch my mom, to turn her over, even though she was still alive. I kept screaming for someone to help me, but no one did. I reached my uncle, who came right away.

“An ambulance pulled up, but the emergency workers refused to move Mama into the ambulance until they got permission from the security officials who were out in the streets, hunting for the terrorist, as well as another shooter who had attacked people in front of the church.

“A gun battle erupted, and people fled. My cousin, my uncle and I stayed with my mother. She looked at me, saying: ‘Do not be afraid, I’m with you. Obey your father and take care of your sister.’

“My mother remained laying in the street for about an hour. After the shooting stopped, I went back to the church to fetch my younger sister Karen, who is eight and had remained in church because the service for children had not finished yet—I saw three people I knew laying in pools of blood in front of the church; I knew they had been killed.

“By the time Mom was taken into the ambulance she had died.

I miss my mother desperately—I am happy because she is a martyr and I don’t feel afraid of the terrorists anymore. I was with her at the time of the attack and did not even get injured: it was God’s will to specifically choose her to go to heaven.

“I do not want to leave my country, but I certainly want to find a better chance to live and study, especially since our financial situation isn’t good. My dad, who is 35, works as a driver, but he has no regular work; my mother provided the main source of income for our family; she was a nurse at the Cairo Kidney Center. I hope to become a doctor of nephrology; that was my mom’s dream for me.

This is my message to all the persecuted people around the world: ‘Do not be afraid! Our lives are in God’s hands and we have to adhere to our faith.'”

PERSECUTION, WARS & RUMOURS OF WARS IN THE END TIMES

Somalia Suffers Worst Terrorist Attack in its History: 276 Have been Killed.

At least 276 people have died in a deadly bomb attack on Saturday in what is being called Somalia’s worst terrorist attack in the country’s history.

Somalia Suffers Worst Terrorist Attack in its History:  276 Have been Killed

BBC News reports that the massive bombing occurred in a busy part of Mogadishu, the country’s capital. No group has yet taken responsibility for the attack, although the al-Shabaab terrorist group is known for targeting the region.

Only 111 of the dead have been identified by family members. One hundred sixty-five others will be given a national mass funeral and buried by the government.

Heartbreaking stories have been emerging from Somalia in the wake of the bombing. One victim, Maryam Abdullahi, had been in medical school and was due to graduate the day after the bombing took place.

Maryam’s father had flown to Mogadishu to celebrate her graduation, but instead ended up mourning her death.

“The family is so shocked, especially our father who travelled all the way from London to attend her graduation, but instead he attended her burial,” said Maryam’s sister, Anfa’a.

Witnesses and survivors of the attack say it was unlike anything they’ve ever seen. Local resident Muhidin Ali said it was “the biggest blast I have ever witnessed, it destroyed the whole area.”

“What happened yesterday was incredible, I have never seen such a thing before, and countless people lost their lives. Corpses were burned beyond recognition,” added Mohamed Yusuf Hassan, the director of the Madina Hospital in Mogadishu.

Are Coptic Christians Celebrating the Martyrdom of Their People Too Much?

Are Coptic Christians Celebrating the Martyrdom of Their People Too Much?

The 2,000-year-old Coptic Church of Egypt has a long tradition of hallowing those who died affirming their faith in the face of violence.

But the group that calls itself the Islamic State has launched waves of attacks on the Coptic community in recent years – claiming at least 70 lives and wounding scores of others – an unrelenting assault that has opened a debate in the community about martyrdom.

The issue has been most recently punctuated by the deadly knifing of a Coptic priest in a poor Cairo neighbourhood Thursday (Oct. 12). A suspect was arrested but his motive is still unknown.

Recently, another Coptic priest — the well-known Rev. Boules George from the well-heeled Cairo suburb of Heliopolis — took to the television airwaves to “thank” the Islamic State terrorists who launched the Palm Sunday church bombings that claimed 45 lives, saying they provided “a rocket” that delivered victims straight to heaven.

“Thank you very, very, very much,” George told the viewers of his program on Egypt’s Coptic TV channel just hours after the terror attacks. “You have given us the death of Christ himself, and this is the greatest honor that of any of us can attain.”

The Islamic State intensified its insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula and targeted Copts, Coptic churches, police and military facilities in Egypt after the 2013 ousting of ex-President Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Glorifying a particularly bloody December attack on a Cairo church, the militants in February released a video declaring that Christians in Egypt were their new “favorite prey” and pledging to wage a “jihad” similar to that in Iraq and Syria, where tens of thousands of Christians have become refugees after fleeing the militants.

Comprising an estimated 10 percent of Egypt’s 90 million people, the Coptic Church is the largest Christian denomination in the Middle East and North Africa.

“We are Egyptian citizens as well as Christians,” said Al-Janoubie. “We need to stop viewing this harassment toward us with pride and saying terrorism gives us a chance to play the same role our ancestors did like in those Sunday school stories about the torture of martyrs.”

Coptic leader Pope Tawadros II, however, has publicly supported the idea that the church derives strength from these deaths of the faithful.

“The blood of our martyrs, the tearful prayers of our monks, and the sweat of all those who serve the church is the source of our spiritual power,” said Tawadros in a Sept. 13 message to the faithful.

Some in the hierarchy of the Coptic Church say martyrdom is widely misunderstood.

“It is true that we love martyrdom, but we also love life,” said Bishop Raphael, the No. 2 man in the Coptic curia. “We do not hate life on earth, because our Lord created us to live in it, not to die.”

This summer, Raphael implemented an Egyptian Interior Ministry directive to suspend church events in difficult-to-secure locations in order to minimize exposure to new attacks. “The fact that we receive death with a spiritual philosophy does not mean that our blood is cheap,” said the bishop.

Still, Raphael is calling for erecting a new church dedicated to the 28 martyrs of a jihadist attack in May that occurred on a desert road between the Egyptian city of Minya and the monastery of Samuel the Confessor — a sixth-century saint tortured at the hands of a rival Byzantine Christian sect.

It’s hard to argue against martyrdom for the 28 people who died in the attack, some community members say. Survivors said their assailants ordered them to fast because it was the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, killed their husbands and brothers, and ordered them to convert to Islam.

“After spraying us with gunfire and taking our jewelry, they ordered the women and children who were still alive to recite a testimony to convert to Islam,” said Hanan Adel, a 28-year-old survivor.

As can be expected, these horror stories don’t inspire all Copts to embrace martyrdom.