‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.’ (Psalm 116:15)
On Sunday 15th February 2015 we received the shocking news that 21 Coptic Christians were brutally murdered on the shores of Libya by masked members of the militant group ISIS. Our thoughts and prayers immediately turned to the families of the 21 martyrs who lost innocent relatives as a result of evil ideology which spreads messages of hatred and terror. We pray for these families and ask God to comfort them in the knowledge that they, and we, have gained new intercessors that will continuously raise our requests before His throne.
While these shocking incidents have highlighted the deplorable state of terrorist groups such as ISIS, our faith teaches us to forgive.
We must forgive the faceless men who committed these despicable acts and pray that our merciful Lord replace their hearts of stone with hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). These acts occurred because the terrorists hate all that is good – however, we must love them and forgive them and ask that God opens their eyes to the sadness and grief they instill in others; and that they and all those that don’t know Him turn to Him and know His love.
The images of young men with eyes fixed on heaven and calling on the Name of their Saviour Jesus Christ moments before their execution had two contrasts – peace and evil.
Peace will prevail – and we too will lift our eyes to heaven to ask our Saviour, the King of Peace, to grant us His peace, establish His peace upon us and forgive us our sins.
The heinous acts were captured on video and spread throughout the world with the intention being to instill fear and terror in the hearts of many – however, the terrorist unwittingly filmed an act of courage and valour. We are strengthened in the knowledge that 21 men have become martyrs for Christ and His Church and these videos, though horrific, captured the moment they displayed their strong and unshakable faith. We remember the words of St Ambrose of Milan:
‘By the death of martyrs religion has been defended, faith increased, the church strengthened; the dead have conquered, the persecutors have been overcome.’
On this somber occasion we also lift our hearts to God and ask Him to comfort all those who have lost loved ones at the hands of terrorists such as these in countless other incidents and indeed in any acts of evil. We call on the international community to continue to condemn these acts and join us in praying that God intervenes and spreads peace throughout the whole world.
Let us use this Lenten period to continue to pray for the families of our 21 martyrs of Christ, for peace in the world, and for the repentance of all of those who do such evil in the world. We also ask God the King of Peace to protect His Church and all of her clergy and her faithful people.
Your generous donations for the families of the martyrs would be greatly appreciated. Donations can be depositied directly into the Coptic Hope Charity Account, Commonwealth Bank:
Account Number: 10566165
Description: 21 Martyrs
Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we trust in You as You are our hope. As we pray in the Fraction of the Great Lent that: “Fasting and prayer are those which the martyrs pursued, until they shed their blood for the name of Christ, Who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate.”
We also pray in the same Fraction saying, “Fasting and prayer are those which raised Elijah to heaven and saved Daniel from the lion’s den.”
During this Great Lent let us all with one accord lift up our hearts in prayer and fasting that God may protect His people and give them peace and comfort.
Lord, Your people are weary and their hearts are broken from all the evil that they see happening to your children. We pray from our hearts that you lift this wrath away from us, we have no other but You. We can ask worldly rulers, kings and presidents to intervene, but it is only You, our Mighty King and Saviour, who can return our peace and joy. You have said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” (Romans 12:19).
Dear Lord, lift this burden from your people and this evil from the world according to your will. Strengthen us to bear this suffering and that we may always be strong in our faith under all circumstances and to give thanks in all things even when we don’t understand why this is happening. Blessed by Your Holy name at all times.