As the world reels in response to the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians by ISIS on Sunday, leaders of Egyptian Christians are calling on followers to pray for their enemies.
In a statement, the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, Bishop Angaelos has reminded Christians that life is fleeting and the church must witness to the world.
“In the midst of this sorrow however, we must continue to dig deeper for the joy that comes from an understanding that this life is but a “vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14), and that true glory and joy are found in an eternal life prepared for all those who live in and for love and peace.
It is only through this understanding that we can continue to live according to the words of 1 Peter 3:15 as demonstrated in the life and witness of the Coptic Church and her children over centuries, ‘…always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…’”. You can read the rest of his statement here.
He also appeared on BBC World News, which you can watch below.
Meanwhile, Bishop Mouneer, head of the Anglican Church in Egypt has released a statement condemining the killings and reminded Christians they are to be full of joy knowing Jesus has overcome.
“It is with great sadness I write you today about the heinous murder of 21 Egyptian Christians at the hand of the so-called Islamic State branch in Libya… Please join me in praying for peace in Libya, Egypt, and the entire Middle East. Please pray the international community will act in wisdom, correctly and efficiently, and support Egypt in its war on terror. Please pray the churches of Egypt will comfort their sons and daughters, encouraging them to resist fear and hatred. And please pray for the perpetrators of this terrible crime, that God would be merciful to them and change their hearts.
Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Such cheer may seem impossible, but it is God’s promise. Please pray for us, that we may live lives worthy of his name, and hold to the testimony exhibited by the brave Egyptians in Libya.”
Read his full statement here.