Inspired by their sacrifice

Paul EgyptEgyptian believer ‘Paul’ tells Release’s Jack Norman how the martyrdom of three of his Christian friends in Libya has strengthened his faith.

When I first met Egyptian believer ‘Paul’ (not his real name) four years ago he told me how he had to flee his village after he was arrested for starting a Sunday school in his home. As well as being arrested himself, his father had been tortured by militants until he lost his hearing.

I met him again earlier this year and he shared with me how his life today is incredibly hard.

In spite of help he has received from our partners, he struggles to provide for his family, and even his daughter’s wedding last year – which should have been a joyous occasion – has left him with debts he cannot repay.

Although he is a skilled carpenter there isn’t much opportunity to sell his work. Like other persecuted Christians in Egypt, Paul continues to face ongoing discrimination and oppression each day.

In spite of this, his faith remains strong, and during our time together he was greatly encouraged by the fact that I had remembered him, had returned to see him, and that I had been praying for him and his family since we first met.

I also assured him that many of our supporters in the UK and Ireland were also praying for him.

He told me that just before I first met him, three of his friends who taught Sunday school with him were among the 21 martyrs beheaded by Islamic State on a beach in Libya in 2015.

Paul was so inspired by the way these 21 believers went to their death that he was writing a musical about their ordeal and sacrifice. He shared one of these songs with me, which powerfully conveyed their trust in God to the end of their lives.

In the song, one of the martyrs bravely declares to his captors: “I don’t care if I die as long as I meet the Saviour.”

It was obvious to me that the example of these courageous believers has really helped to strengthen the faith of Paul in his own difficult circumstances.

Release’s partner has helped Paul by building a concrete roof for his family home and has provided him with a washing machine. Thanks to your gifts, our partner is able to provide this kind of tailored support to those in need.

I will continue to pray for Paul and his family and I trust that I will soon be able to encourage him once again face to face.’

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