Some women prayed The Lord’s Prayer as they were being raped
By Mark Ellis
Shocking details have emerged about the horrible deaths of 11 male and female Christian missionaries captured by ISIS in a village near Aleppo, Syria, based on eyewitness accounts received by Christian Aid Mission.
As the dangers of continuing their work mounted in Aleppo, all of these Christian workers – including the 12-year-old son of a team leader – were given the option to leave.
They stayed because they felt they were called to share Christ with those caught in the crossfire, according to the ministry director. “Every time we talked to them,” the director said, “they were always saying, ‘We want to stay here – this is what God has told us to do. This is what we want to do.’ They just wanted to stay and share the gospel.”
Surviving relatives who went into hiding provided the details of the cruel executions to Christian Aid.
The Christian workers were captured on August 7th. On Aug. 28, ISIS militants asked the 11 missionaries if they had converted from Islam to Christianity. When the Christians affirmed they had, the rebels asked if they would return to Islam. The Christians said they would never renounce Christ.
The 41-year-old team leader, his 12-year-old son and two ministry members in their 20s were questioned at one village near Aleppo where ISIS fighters had mustered a crowd. The team leader had provided oversight to nine house churches he helped to plant.
In front of the team leader and his relatives in the crowd, the Islamic extremists cut off the fingertips of the boy and severely beat him, telling his father they would stop the torture if he, the father, returned to Islam.
When the team leader refused, relatives reported, the ISIS militants also tortured and beat him and the two other ministry workers. The three men and the boy were then crucified.
“All were badly brutalized and then crucified,” the ministry director said. “They were left on their crosses for two days. No one was allowed to remove them.”The martyrs died beside signs the ISIS militants had put up identifying them as “infidels.”
Eight other ministry team members, including two women, were taken to another site in the village the same day and were asked similar questions before a crowd.
The women, ages 29 and 33, tried to tell the ISIS fighters they were only sharing the peace and love of Jesus Christ and asked what they had done wrong to deserve the abuse.
The Islamic extremists then publicly raped the women, who continued to pray during the ordeal, leading the ISIS militants to beat them all the more furiously.
As the two women and the six men knelt before them they were all praying before they were beheaded.
“Villagers said some were praying in the name of Jesus, others said some were praying the Lord’s prayer, and others said some of them lifted their heads to commend their spirits to Jesus,” the ministry director said.
One woman seemed to have an experience similar to Stephen in the book of Acts, when he gazed up to heaven at his stoning. “One of the women looked up and seemed to be almost smiling as she said, ‘Jesus!'”
After they were beheaded, their bodies were hung on crosses, the ministry director said, his voice breaking. He had trained all of the workers for their evangelistic ministry, and he had baptized the team leader and some of the others.
“They kept on praying loudly and sharing Jesus until their last breath,” he said. “They did this in front of the villagers as a testimony for others.”
“I asked them to leave, but I gave them the freedom to choose,” he noted. “As their leader, I should have insisted that they leave.”
Christian Aid Mission believes there are hundreds of former Muslims in Syrian villages who are in danger of being captured and killed by ISIS. The underground church in the region has mushroomed since June 2014, when ISIS began terrorizing those who do not swear allegiance to its caliphate, both non-Muslims and Muslims.
Consequently, the potential for large-scale executions has grown along with the gains in ISIS-controlled territory.
Christian Aid’s local ministry partner is providing resources and trying to find ways to evacuate Christian families by other routes. Many of the ministry’s teams also remain in Syria. Christian Aid Mission assists those who do not or cannot leave with the means to survive and operate their outreaches.
To learn more about Christian Aid Mission’s work, go here