The Man Who was Beheaded the Day He Became a Christian

Through their faith, the Coptic Christians are showing us how to overcome evil with good.

By Michael Brown Published on May 12, 2017

Most of us know the story of the 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt who held fast to their faith and were beheaded by ISIS in February, 2015. But did you know that only 20 of them were actually Copts from Egypt? Did you know that one of the martyrs was from Chad, and he had not been a Christian prior to the day of his beheading?

This story was previously reported. But I had not heard it before this week, when I attended the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. A Coptic leader shared this remarkable story. It’s yet another tribute to the faith of these martyred Copts.

“Their God is My God”

All 21 men had been working in Libya when they were kidnapped by ISIS. But as can be seen in pictures where they are lined up on the beach to be killed, one of them had darker skin and different facial features. This was the man from Chad.

The Coptic Christians were given a choice to deny Jesus or die. They refused to deny Him, knowing it would cost them their heads.

When the terrorists ordered the man from Chad to deny Jesus or die, he answered, “Their God is my God,” thereby sealing his fate.

When the terrorists ordered the man from Chad to deny Jesus or die, he answered, “Their God is my God,” thereby sealing his fate.

That’s how moved he was by the faith of these Christians. Their refusal to deny their Savior, even at the point of death — literally, at the point of a knife to their throats — moved him to make a profession of faith, one that would cost him his head as well. Can we grasp the intensity of this story?

The man had not been a believer. All he had to say was, “I don’t believe in Jesus” or, “Jesus is not the Son of God,” and he could walk away a free man. He would be with his family again. He would not die a brutal death. He would live to see another day.

How many Christians would be sorely tempted under such circumstances? How many would waver and, for that moment, deny their Lord, just to avoid beheading? Yet this man, who had not been a follower of Jesus before then, was so moved by the dedication of these Christians that he became a believer on the spot.

“Go ahead and behead me,” he was saying. “Your god is not my God. Their God is my God.”

Power of the Gospel

That is the power of the gospel, and that is how we overcome Satan, by not loving our lives to the point of death (Revelation 12:11).

That is why this story needs to be told and retold until the faith of those martyrs becomes our faith, until people look at our lives and say, “Your God is my God, whatever may come my way.”

And here’s something striking. As I have listened this week to the stories of persecuted Christians, even hearing from family members of martyrs, I have not heard a word of self-pity. Not a word.

I have heard words of courage and dedication. I have heard words of great love for Jesus. I have heard requests for prayer and help. But I have not heard any self-pity.

This story needs to be told and retold until the until people look at our lives and say, “Your God is my God, whatever may come my way.”

The daughter of an Iranian pastor martyred 20 years ago spoke of her own life experience and of her father’s refusal to back down. Now, 20 years after her father was buried in an unmarked grave, she could speak of multiplied hundreds of thousands of Iranian Muslims coming to faith in Jesus. Her father’s blood was not shed in vain.

That is how a seed planted in the ground first dies and then produces much fruit (John 12:24-25).

A Syrian Christian leader shared how a radical Islamic group offered to arm them to fight against another radical Islamic faction. He replied, “We already have two arms, love and forgiveness. We don’t want to become another militia.”

That is how we overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). Some Christians even said to ISIS, “Thank you for helping to unite us!”

We Are More Than Conquerors Through Christ

Yet it would be wrong to think of these suffering believers as super saints, which is another lesson for us all.

Most of them are just ordinary Christians, not preachers or pastors, and certainly not big-name evangelists. They are mothers and fathers, young people and old people, laborers and housewives, educated and uneducated. Yet they have remained faithful under hellish pressure, enduring unspeaking suffering.

Rather than curse God, they bless Him. Rather than retaliate with hatred and vengeance, they offer forgiveness and love.

Yet rather than curse God, they bless Him, and rather than retaliate against their enemies with hatred and vengeance, they offer forgiveness and love.

Earlier this year, a couple told me about their trip to Ethiopia where they met with family members of the Ethiopian Christians beheaded by ISIS. They spoke with the widow of one of the martyrs who was pregnant when he was killed, making his death even more painful.

But when they talked with this young woman, rather than bemoan her terrible loss, she said to them, “How is it that I had the privilege of being married to a martyr for Jesus?” She was an uneducated woman with no social status, and she was humbled beyond words that she was chosen to be the wife of a martyr.

This is why radical Islam will ultimately fall before the name of Jesus and why every other force that seeks to wipe out the Church will fail in the end. It’s also why we should stop feeling sorry for ourselves when things get a little rough. Are we not also more than conquerors through Him who loved us? (See Romans 8:37)

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  • Howard Rosenbaum

    There must be some kind of grace at work here. You know the” where sin abounds grace does more abound” kind of grace.
    Some of us have had moments in God where we can almost understand that kind of consecration. There are doubtless other times when our grasp of this kind of commitment could be likened to the hand of a spurned lover. It’s hard to hold on to. Doubtless, we all have been thankful for His grace in the face of our failings, Deliberate or otherwise. Seems to me there is something more going on here than meets the eye. As for that man from Chad, it must have been more than mere inspiration undergirding that mans new found faith in the face of certain death. For most believers martyrdom is not something we would pray for. However in the midst of what must be a love unspeakable ,seems like it may be something that like that uneducated woman w/out social status, something we could thank God for …

  • Autrey Windle

    This story changed my faith when it happened in real time. It was a time of much more in-your-face original awareness of isis evil. I am so glad you bring the story to folks who may have not been aware of it. I have been hoping against and praying against complacency that often comes when the headlines become less terrifying and more just distracting from the true evil that is happening at the hands of true radical haters. The liberals have lost a big election and have been trying to delineate the meanings of adjectives by assigning them to comparitively trivial pursuits and to scare people into feeling sorry for disagreeing with their poor persecution for being liberal or alphabet people or atheists or climate alarmists and such. If these distractors had any real awareness or good sense, they would face facts and realize that, while they may abhor Christians and conservatives, if they want the truth it’s that these radical muslims would chop off their heads for being alphabet insisters, promiscuous women, non-radical Muslim loyalists or just being near a sword to slash their throats with if they had the chance. These alarmists crying fake fire in a crowded Prius should stop and see that the Christians and political conservatives are the only thing between them and the murdering hands of these people they want us to bow down to at the US borders and so forth. We are your protectors and the ones who defend to the death your rights to be rude and wrong and we will pray for your forgiveness and never decapitate you. Just sayin’ Tim Horton and friends…

    • James Doyle

      Autry these people in our own land are so blind it’s untrue .From the extreme Homosexual Brigade who want to destry Christian Business to the Liberaly stupid young women who let Muslims wrap Burkas around them in High School Colleges and Universities. They will only see the error of their ways when it’s to late and their being tossed of buildings.

      • Autrey Windle

        Pray, James, pray and then pray some more. God has not given us a spirit of fear and He is drawing your courage to bear with each new day. ‘Their God is my God’ is a battle cry of naive but blessed courage from God. We will all have it if we remember to ask.

        • Timothy Horton

          test.

        • Timothy Horton

          test

  • Ryan Harding

    Thanks for sharing this Dr. Brown. We Christians here in America have so much to learn from our brothers and sisters over there.

  • I cried all through this powerful witness of faith in our Lord and Savior.

  • James Doyle

    Michael as a Catholic I was actually ashamed when I read this . With all the spiritual tools I have at my disposal I feel so poor .Would i have the strength of these men i do not know. As it’s been said here the man especially not of the Christian Faith could have walked away. During the last couple of days I was blogging with an aitheist on here and I am ashamed to say I had hate in my heart. I find it hard very hard to forgive the spoken word yet here are these men who only really had to Lie to save their lives. It brings me to a true story of a Mission Priest a Holy Ghost Father who while saying Mass a gang came in stopped Mass and said all who don’t want shot leave. Many left and there was only 4 plus the Priest left. To be honest I would love to say that I would be one to stay but am a born coward .Yet no one can come to the Father except through him .God Bless.

    • Colleen

      I worry too that if I was in this situation I wouldn’t pass the test if I depended on my own strength. But I can do nothing in my own strength and I pray that you and I if we find ourselves in this situation would ask God to give us the strength the pass the test, and in his faithfulness God will enable us to lay down our lives.

  • Nunyadambizness

    I remember this story when it was first reported, and I have to admit I wanted the murderers to be slaughtered and burn in hell until I hear of the man from Chad–and my heart broke. I had to consider–was the temporary loss of those brave believers that resulted in a man being saved–was it worth it? The Bible says (paraphrased) that He wants none to perish, and so I wonder–was this worth the loss? I think maybe it was, even though I still want these murderous bast–ds to burn in hell–and I am then reminded that “Vengeance is mine” saith the Lord… So, I think I’ll just leave it to Him…

  • azsxdcf1

    I am sorry to comment on your excellent article by quoting it; BUT: “This is why radical Islam will ultimately fall before the name of Jesus and why every other force that seeks to wipe out the Church will fail in the end”… makes me first sob… then rejoice! HIS TRUTH IS MARCHING ON!! GLORY, GLORY HALLELUJAH!

  • chuckles

    I agree with most of the posts here, but it doesn’t have to be that way in America. We are the ones voting for people that want us dead. They agree with Islam and Satan who wrote their book. We get the government we vote for. If you see what’s happening in the church today, they seem to be believing that we all worship the same God. No one can know what Islam believes and the teachings of Christ and agree they are the same. Trump is trying to keep Americans safe, but look at the resistance he is getting.
    It’s written in The Bible what’s coming. The Antichrist will be an Assyrian. That will be Iran, Iraq, Syria, or any sliver of several other Muslim countries today in the ME. There will will be a false prophet that will betray Christians to agree that this man is the “one we are waiting for”. Beheading in the US is coming soon and we are siding with the enemy and spurning other Christians. It’s here staring us in the face and we are blinded by liberalism. The Truth is the Truth, not an emotional response.The Truth is written in Scripture. There is no plan “B”. To save yourself and your families, we need to understand that the world is lying to us. Jesus will remove His church just as He removed Noah and his family and Lot and his family. We don’t have to face the Antichrist. Mat 25 speaks of “foolish virgins” left to “buy and sell”. These are NOT lost people! They are “virgins”,….Christian believers that are NOT doing what Christ has given them to do. Being a “lukewarm” Christian now will get you a meeting with the Antichrist and you will have to decide if you want this man’s fate or buy yourself another year or two and go to hell. If you deny Jesus before men, He will deny you before the Father. Wake UP! See what your religious leaders are saying about Islam. We are to have a relationship with Christ, NOT a denomination. Recently a Catholic priest objected to a Muslim reading a verse from the Koran that denied Christ was the Son of God and the Priest was removed, ….NOT THE MUSLIM. Say something! Do something! Time is short!

  • davidrev17

    Wonderful biblical examples upon which we Laodiceanized American believers in Jesus should prayerfully consider, as to the reality of what it actually means to identify with this Holy “name above every other name”!

    Yet here, we professing investment-strategist so-called “Christians,” enjoying this biblically-foreign approach to following Christ (i.e., “risk-free Christianity) literally shrink-in-arrogant-horror – thus crying FOUL! – whenever we’re subjected to even the slightest bit of discomfort associated with our living-out this same biblical faith.

    Instead, we choose to invoke these biblically irrelevant First Amendment “protections” & “freedoms,” with our cowardly “entitlement mentality” excuses; as though while on “American soil,” this constitutionalized form of religious protection has somehow abrogated, or rendered null-and-void, the immutably transcendent, thus eternal truth’s contained in the Word of God – when it comes to its unwavering applicability for the genuine “child of God” throughout planet earth.

    Lord have mercy…awaken your seemingly slumbering people in this country, to the reality of the Christian’s biblical “birthright.”

  • Macmia

    Awesome story about unmovable faith.

  • Islam is just repulsive. May it fall into the trash heap of history.

    • Nunyadambizness

      Islam is Satanic. I don’t believe any other word describes it better, nor explains why it is such a murderous and barbaric religion.

      • Totally agree. I’ve said the same elsewhere.

  • littleeif

    St. Mathew Ayairga (Unknown Laborer from the village of Ahr), pray for us!

  • C. William Russell

    You honor their lives, thank you sir.

  • us

    yesterday there was a video which i saw in full, on facebook which showed a christian syrian man surrounded by isis deny Christ and make the muslim prayer, then they promptly cut his head off anyways. facebook removed it. remember this if the same choice comes to you……..dont trust the devil, dont think maybe you’ll have time to repent it afterwards…….. think of the everlasting joy ahead.

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