Relatives of the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by the Islamic State terrorist group have shared how the tragic deaths of their loved ones has strengthened the faith of the local community.
Three years after their relatives were murdered by IS in the infamous “A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross” video, members of the Coptic community of Minya province, Upper Egypt, gathered for the inauguration of a new church, The Church of the Libyan Martyrs, dedicated to the memory of these men.
“We are very happy that we have this wonderful big church named after our martyrs. It is honoring them,” Boushra Fawzy, whose 22-year-old son, Kiryollos, was among those killed, told World Watch Monitor.
“We were happy today that a mass for the third anniversary of their martyrdom was held in their church and we felt a great joy during the service, because that was a dream for us.”
Fifi Shehata, the daughter of one of the martyrs, told World Watch Monitor that the church building is a visible symbol of her father’s faith and how God has sustained her family.
“I am proud that my father is on the pictures in the church. It’s a big honor …” she said. “At first, it was hard to deal with the fact that our father was martyred, but later we felt comforted by God.”
Malak, the father of another martyr, shared his pride in the men’s refusal to deny Jesus in the face of death.
“We only knew martyrdom from films, but martyrdom was reintroduced and it strengthened our faith because these people, these martyrs, lived among us,” he said. “To be honest, I was happy when I saw my son in the video because then I knew the place he had gone to. And when I saw he died with the name of Jesus on his lips, I was very proud. I rejoiced!”
The victims, 20 Egyptian Copts and one Ghanaian Christian, were kidnapped in separate incidents in Libya throughout December 2014 and January 2015. IS later released the video of their execution on Feb. 15, 2015, which shows the Christian men in orange jumpsuits kneeling on the sand as jihadists stood behind them, ready to carry out the executions at a beach near Tripoli.
Militants attempted to persuade the men to deny Jesus in return for their lives; however, they all refused and instead repeated the words, “Lord Jesus Christ.”
In 2016, the Christians were registered in the book of martyrs by Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II.
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Source: Christian Post