They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated, the world was not worthy of them.” (Hebrews 11:37-38)
I don’t think I will ever read this passage again without seeing in my mind images of men dressed in orange jump suits with black-clad, masked executors behind each one of them. ISIS’s brutal killing of 21 Christian Egyptians in Libya last month for being ‘people of the Cross’ devastated their families and shocked Egypt – and the world.
When I arrived at the Bible Society office the morning after the video was released, feeling sad and depressed, a young coworker told me that as well as the horror and sorrow she felt at the young men’s deaths, their faith had left her feeling ‘very encouraged.’
“What has happened has shown me that there are Christians today who are brave enough to face death rather than deny their Lord,” she told me. “It has shown me that the the Gospel message can still help us to hold onto the promises of God, even when facing death.”
To bring comfort to a mourning nation, we at the Bible Society produced more than a million copies of a leaflet called ‘Two Rows by the Sea’, which is being distributed throughout the country. It contains a collection of Scripture passages about faith in adversity and God’s enduring love. It also includes a poem, from which the leaflet takes its name, written by medical doctor who has a gift for writing poetry. I’d like to share the poem here. May it bless you as it has blessed many people across the world over the past two weeks:
Two Rows By the Sea
Two rows of men walked the shore of the sea,
On a day when the world’s tears would run free.
One a row of assassins, who thought they did right,
The other of innocents, true sons of the light.
One holding knives in hands held high,
The other with hands empty, defenseless and tied.
One row of slits to conceal glaring-dead eyes,
The other with living eyes raised to the skies.
One row stood steady, pall-bearers of death,
The other knelt ready, welcoming heaven’s breath.
One row spewed wretched, contemptible threats,
The other spread God-given peace and rest.
A Question… Who fears the other?
The row in orange, watching paradise open?
Or the row in black, with minds evil and broken?