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Following the martyrdom of Coptic Christian men by Libyan Islamic State (IS) militants in February 2015, the names of 21 of the martyrs were widely shared. The martyrs were kidnapped from Sirte, Libya, where they were working.

Initially, it was believed that all of the men killed for their faith were from small villages in Egypt. However, the name and background of one of those killed, a black man, was unknown. Mathew Ayairga was soon identified by friends after being recognised in video footage of the killings released by IS. According to Ahram-Canadian News, Mathew was from Chad. Mathew had gone missing in January 2015, captured by one of the radical groups in Libya who have kidnapped hundreds, both Muslim and Christian.

The video, made public on 15 February, shows each of the men dressed in orange jumpsuits, kneeling on a beach, with their black-clothed attackers standing behind them. Each one is systematically beheaded and the video clearly shows many of the men praying ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ in their final moments.

According to reports, Mathew Ayairga was not a Christian. However, when, moments before his death, the IS extremists demanded that he follow Islam, Mathew turned them down. After reportedly witnessing the ‘immense faith’ of the Egyptian believers, he decided to become a follower of Christ.

On camera, one of the terrorists asked Matthew, ‘Do you reject Christ?’

‘Their God is my God,’ he responded, and he became one of the 21 men laying down their lives for their faith in Christ.

The Names of the 21 Martyrs:

  1. Milad Makeen Zaky
  2. Abanub Ayad Atiya
  3. Maged Soliman Shehata
  4. Youssef Shukry Younan
  5. Kirollos Boshra Fawzy
  6. Bishoy Astafanous Kamel
  7. Samuel Astafanous Kamel
  8. Malak Ibrahim Sinyout
  9. Tawadros Youssef Tawadros
  10. Gerges Milad Sinyout
  11. Mina Fayez Aziz
  12. Hany Abdel Mesih Salib
  13. Samuel Alham Wilson
  14. Ezzat Boshra Naseef
  15. Luka Nagaty Anis
  16. Gaber Mounir Adly
  17. Esam Badir Samir
  18. Malak Farag Abrahim
  19. Sameh Salah Farouk
  20. Gerges Samir Megally
  21. Mathew Ayairga

Sources: The Voice of the Martyrs USA, Bombay Orthodox Diocese, Diocese of Los Angeles Coptic Orthodox

 Prayer Points

  • Thank the Lord for the faithfulness of these men and pray He will continue to use their testimonies to build His kingdom.
  • Pray for the members of Islamic State, responsible for the murders of these men; may they leave their life of sin and hatred to love and serve the one they have been persecuting.
  • Pray the Lord will strengthen His church in both Egypt and Libya. Uphold the Egyptian families to the Lord who are still coming to terms with their loss.