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By Sarah Kearney

07/20/2017 Egypt (International Christian Concern) – Armed gangs and lawlessness are unfortunately common in Libya. The rocky political climate that is seen in the instability of the government has increased since Muammar Gaddafi, the leader of Libya, was removed in late 2011. This allowed Islamic militant groups to move freely and cause chaos throughout the country. There are multiple active groups in Libya, but those operating under the label of Ansar al-Sharia (“Partisans of Islamic Law”) have been involved in the most brutal attacks against Christians and Westerners living in the country.

The lack of economic opportunities in Upper Egypt is a major factor that drives people to seek work in Libya, but the unstable conditions in the country have turned many of them into targets. Therefore, Libya has become an increasingly hostile place for Christians and they experience brutal incidents of violence very often.

On February 23, 2014, several gunmen with automatic weapons stormed into the homes of a Christian town, where they interrogated and abducted eight Christian men who were then forced into vehicles that they had parked outside of the homes. One of the victims, Nashat Bibawi, managed to escape when a Libyan citizen who lives near the building came over and began to ask the Ansar al-Sharia gunmen why they were taking the Egyptians away. The gunmen began to beat the man for asking questions and forced him to leave without any answers. During the commotion, Nashat was able to get away and tell the story of the incident. Unfortunately, the seven remaining victims, Edward Nashed Boules, Talaat Sedeek Bibawi, Nadhi Girgis Habib, Hani Girgis Habib, Fawzy Fathy Sedeek, Sameh Romany Tawfiq, and Ayoub Sabry Tawfiq were taken to a beach outside the city to later be executed.

These men left behind their wives and children, who experienced unfathomable grief and hardship because of this tragedy. This case not only affected the families of the victims, but also the other Christians in the village. In the midst of this tragedy, they have also been struggling to build a church in their community. It has definitely not been easy, but they were finally able to get the necessary permits from the authorities to build a church.

ICC has been working with the leaders of the community and elders of the church to assess their needs. Fortunately, with the help of our donors, we provided for the needs of this Christian community in Libya and will be helping with the construction of their church. The church’s greatest need at this time is to build a nursery on the third floor of the building and we are glad to assist them with this.

The Christian families and church members were so grateful for the visits and assistance in getting the permits of the church and for sending them the funds to complete the construction of the church.

Please keep the families of these seven martyrs and the Christian villagers in your prayers as they walk in faith and continue to serve the Lord even through their greatest trials.