The mother of Kyrillos (Cyrus), one of the 21 Coptic Christians recently butchered by the Islamic State in Libya, said in a recent interview that she forgives the Muslim murderers of her son — since he is now “with his Lord” — and prays that they see the light and turn from evil.
Said the mother of the 22-year-old martyr — one of the many Copts who testified the name of Christ seconds before their heads were cruelly hacked off: “My son is with his Lord. He wasn’t kidnapped. They always told me ‘your son has been kidnapped,’ but I said, ‘No, he is with the Lord.’”
When asked if she had any message for her son’s executioners, she said, “I thank you [for his martyrdom], may the Lord touch your hearts and light a way for you so you don’t end up in a bad place — light a way for you so you don’t end up in hell.”
While Western history acknowledges that Christians were persecuted for nearly 300 years during the Roman era, with Constantine’s conversion followed by the Edict of Milan in 313, it is often assumed that Christian persecution came to a close. It did — only to start again with renewed ferocity during the Islamic conquests that began in the 630’s till this very day (Coptic Christian Egypt was already under Muslim rule around 640 and has, since then, seen a steady dwindling of Christianity).
This is the part of history that is forgotten — or ignored — but not for Mideast Christians who still live in the shadow of the sword; who still live the life of the ancient, persecuted church, and embrace the fact that the price for their faith is often martyrdom, as it was for this woman’s son and the other 20. (Read about this 19th century Copt who endured numerous tortures and was finally immolated to death for refusing to convert to Islam.)
Finally, it is well to reflect that, whereas Islamic jihadis are fond of telling the West that they “love death as much as you love life,” many persecuted Christians under Islam do not fear death as such but, in the fashion of the ancient church, see it as a doorway out of oppression and to the crown of martyrdom.