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Beheadings Elicit Calls to Prayer

AG leaders urge congregational support in the aftermath of the latest militant carnage in the Middle East.

The 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS militants last week were mostly poor men from rural areas who had come to Libya searching for jobs. One young man was reported to have moved there to earn better wages to pay for his wedding.  

Following the mass executions, Egypt vowed revenge and pounded Libyan militants with a series of crippling airstrikes on Monday.

“This atrocity in Libya is a brutal example of the lengths to which these radical Islamic terrorists will go,” says Omar Beiler, Assemblies of God World Missions regional director for Eurasia, which includes the Middle East and North Africa. “Our concerns for the multitudes who are suffering in the region should motivate us to increase our prayers — especially for AG believers in the affected countries, who, although they are not specifically in the news, are always in our minds and in our hearts.”

In the midst of this crisis, Christian personnel serving in the area stated they tearfully gathered for prayers to mourn those who had been brutally murdered.

As deeply as the mass execution in Libya has saddened Christian communities, it should be remembered that many, if not most, ISIS victims have been Muslim.

“The militant agenda of these terrorists extends not only to Christians but to other Muslims they consider to be their enemies,” says Greg Beggs, AGWM Africa regional director.

Areas of unrest in West Africa reflect Beggs’ analysis. The Nigeria-based terrorist group Boko Haram continues to wreak havoc in several nations, including newly threatened nations of Niger and Chad. While Christians have been among those killed — possibly including an AG pastor beheaded in Nigeria according to an unconfirmed but apparently credible report — Boko Haram has decimated Muslim communities in wholesale attacks and suicide bombings.

Africa and the Middle East are not isolated hot spots in this growing crisis. Across Europe, Jewish communities are on high alert following a deadly attack on a synagogue in Denmark and the desecration of hundreds of Jewish graves in France. Israel has called for European Jews to return to Israel, saying they will be welcomed with open arms.
While nations grapple with ISIS’ growing threat, the danger posed to the global body of Christ cannot be ignored. But this is not a new challenge.

“Jesus made it clear that those who follow Him will face suffering and persecution,” says George O. Wood, general superintendent of the U.S. Assemblies of God. “He said that believers would be hated by all nations because of Him. Yet He went on to say that, in spite of mistreatment and suffering the good news of the Kingdom will be ‘preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations’ (Matthew 24:14, NIV).”

Assemblies of God leaders have expressed the urgent need for prayer in the churches of the Fellowship as violence continues to escalate in the Middle East, North Africa, and also West Africa.

“In the last few years, the Holy Spirit has been compelling us in AG World Missions to increase both the faithfulness and fervency of our prayers for the suffering church,” says AGWM Executive Director Greg Mundis. “I ask the pastors of our Fellowship to call upon their congregations to unite with us in prayer for the many who are suffering in the current climate of violence.”

Randy Hurst

Randy Hurst serves as Special Consultant to the AG World Missions Executive Director.