BY JENNIFER BREEDON
Sunday, April 9, 2017 – Egypt is seven hours ahead of us in time. So while most Christians in North America were soundly sleeping with Palm Sunday church outfits laid out on their dresser, the Coptic Christians of Egypt—roughly 9 million people—were gathering into their ancient churches to celebrate Palm Sunday. But on this day, two explosions rang out in Coptic churches of Alexandria and Tanta in Lower (Northern) Egypt. At least 37 Coptic Christians were murdered with ISIS claiming responsibility following the attacks. ISIS has been growing numbers in Libya and the Sinai Peninsula where such militants likely hailed from. Alexandria sits along the Mediterranean from Libya where thousands of people have been trying to escape ISIS.
Palm Sunday is the day Jesus of Nazareth rode amongst “multitudes” of people to Jerusalem as they gathered to worship whom they saw as the Messiah who had stated “the time for His kingdom was not yet” but that He had come to save the people (Luke 19:11-12). What they did not know what that this ride would be exactly one week before Jesus would be resurrected from the dead, according to the New Testament. To this day, his body is nowhere to be found—giving hope to millions of followers of Christ. Namely, the Coptic Christians in Egypt.
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Father Mina, a Coptic Priest I met, told me that every Sunday, Coptic Christians gather and read the verses about martyrdom (the concept of being killed for their faith) such as Matthew 24:9 “They will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name” and John 16:2 “an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.” There are many verses about followers of Jesus being killed for their faith, but the Bible never calls on anyone to wish for this or act upon it. What it does is offer hope. These Christians read these words as a reminder that God knows of their suffering and as each word of their biblical text continues to be fulfilled 100% in our days, it gives the persecuted the strength they need to feel content despite affliction and the hope of a loving God who will avenge the evil of this world.
It is that kind of faith and contentment that Coptic Christians and so many others around the world cling to on days like this. While ISIS celebrates their bloodshed, they fail to realize that they are 100 percent playing into every Biblical prophecy that the Jesus they lash out against predicted thousands of years ago – thus bringing Bible verses into fruition and hope to the Coptic saints of this world. Every time ISIS kills a Christian, the forgiveness and testimony of his or her family brings dozens of people to Christ in watching their witness.
In the words of an Evangelical pastor in the Middle East to me, “today ISIS is the evangelizer… I am merely a baptizer of their converts to Christianity.”
This article was originally published at clarionproject.org.