Tuesday, April 11, 2017

ISIS vs Easter--The Response

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During Palm Sunday services in 2 Coptic Christian churches in Egypt, ISIS attacked the worshipers, leaving at least 44 dead and more than 120 injured.

The Christians began burying their dead yesterday and will continue today.

Their response?

On the same Palm Sunday weekend, a Christian couple in Australia were attacked on a train by an Arabic speaking gang that ripped the man's cross from his neck and beat him, shouting "F*** Jesus."

When the Christian man's girlfriend tried to help him, they beat her too.

Their response?

We read the headlines yesterday about the church bombings, now CBN News is reporting what is happening among the people of these churches--- behind the headlines.

We know that 2 different Christian churches were bombed Palm Sunday morning during their worship service.

A bomb went off inside St. George's church in Tanta, about 60 miles north of Cairo.

Two hours later, security cameras show a suicide bomber blowing himself up at the entrance to St. Mark's church in Alexandria.

With at least 44 dead and more than 120 injured, there was both carnage and chaos.

One parishioner said, "I got up and saw bodies all around me, I climbed onto the pews and got out using a side door; then I heard screams."

Yesterday, and continuing today, the Christians are burying their dead.

Egypt's President el Sisi has told President Trump he will address this matter.

CBN News talked with a Christian leader in Cairo and learned what's going on after the killing.

Their response.

A top leader in the Coptic church told CBN, "They have not responded in anger or by taking up weapons. In fact from the top leadership of the Coptic church all the way down to laity, they have turned the other cheek. They have exhibited the spirit of Jesus. They have said we are willing to suffer for Jesus sake."

He said, "So even though it's been difficult, we just laud our brothers and sisters in this land at the dignity and the patience and the grace they have exhibited during their times of suffering."

And they will continue to serve the Lord.

Palm Sunday, on the other side of the world, a man and his girlfriend are riding the train in Australia.

Mike, who wishes his last name not be published for fear of further attacks, and his girlfriend are suddenly attacked by a gang of 4 men "of Middle Eastern appearance." They rip off the cross he is wearing around his neck and begin stomping on it, beating him on his face, back and shoulders---while shouting in Arabic and English "F*** Jesus" and something favorable about Allah.

When his girlfriend attempts to help Mike, two women with the gang attack her and begin beating her.

Five uniformed transport officers watch the attack take place but fail to intervene. They take notes then leave the scene.

Mike says, "I was born in Australia of Greek heritage, I've always worn my cross. For them to rip it off and step on it must be a religious crime..."

Mike went to Reverend George Capsis, a Greek community leader and former deputy mayor of the area.

Reverend Capsis told Mike, "This is not an isolated incident" explaining that he is the fourth Christian to have come to him about a religiously-motivated attack in just the last six months.

The other 3 were assaulted in the same way for the same reason.

Rev. Capsis said, "There are gangs of these fellows of Muslim background who have been harassing people they identify as Christian...You don't hear about it because no one's reporting it."

Rev. Capsis, a Baptist minister, believes that the problem "needs to be nipped in the bud," but isn't hopeful.

The response.

In the absence of intervention by authorities, the minister says he can only advise Christians "to hide their faith in the presence of Muslims."

He says, "People like the Greek Orthodox carry a big cross. I tell them to be practical and if they're in those areas and wearing a big cross and a group of young guys comes, hide it in your shirt."

Mike told a reporter, "I won't hide my cross."

Christianity is not merely an ideology---it is a living dynamic faith.

From the earliest accounts of Judeo-Christianity, believers have been called upon to respond.

Jesus Christ Himself was called upon to respond to the purpose and events that we mourn and celebrate on Easter weekend.

Luke 22:41-45 identifies a moment in the life of Jesus where after he had withdrawn from His followers, He knelt and prayed, saying, "Father, if it is your will, take this cup away from Me; never-the-less not My will, but thine be done."

Christianity costs something and always involves a call to action.

Good Friday is a day that records Jesus Christ's response to God's plan to offer redemption to a lost world.

In the final moments, they would beat and stab Him, nailing His body to a wooden cross outside the city, while crushing thorns into His head and mocking Him.

Then there was that moment--- that one moment in time---God the Father would turn away from Him as He takes upon Himself the sins of the world, crying out, "Why have You forsaken me?"

In fact, He would die from His wounds.

But He would rise from the dead.

Moments before the Roman authorities came to take Him away, Jesus had approached his followers, for one last word with them, only to find them sleeping.

The days of this week lead more than 2 billion Christians to remember the death and celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And in doing so, all believers are being called upon to respond to the events in our world, whether in Egypt, Australia or right where you are.

Respond in prayer, and respond in action.

Be Informed. Be Bold. Be Prayerful.