Acts of love 'disarm' Muslim leaders in Egypt

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
Families of Coptic men, who were killed in Libya early this year, attend Sunday service in the Virgin Mary Church at Samalout Diocese in Al-Our village, in Minya governorate, south of Cairo, May 3, 2015. Voice of the Martyrs has begun a campaign in all five villages that were home to the 21 Coptic Christian who were brutally beheaded by Muslim terrorists. In their first act of love, they have installed water filters so Christians and Muslims can have access to clean water. "Love is our greatest weapon," VOM says. | EGYPT-CHRISTIANS/SISI REUTERS/Stringer

AL AOUR, Egypt (Christian Examiner) – In a village torn apart by media coverage after the barbarous execution of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya earlier this year it was buidling a facility for clean drinking water -- not a church honoring the martyrs -- that has brought about reconciliation from Muslims and Christians in the region.

"Love is our greatest weapon," said partner of Voice of the Martyrs, the non-profit organzation that helps persecuted Christians around the world.

Once their represenatatives traveled to the region and realized how tension had arisen last Feburary after the horrific acts -- 21 Coptic Christian from five villages were beheaded -- they aimed to diffuse rising tensions in communities where the victims' families lived -- many in extreme poverty.

In a background like ours, in which violence and weapons are the way to impose submissiveness, love is the greatest weapon a Christian possesses.

Meeting with the relatives of 13 of the murdered Christians in attempts to identify areas of need in the five villages of the martyrs, VOM determined that a number of service projects would be conducted to serve the families of those who had died.

Last month, the organization embarked upon the first of several trips for their service outreach. Together with some of its partners, VOM began installing water filters in the villages in order to improve their drinking water for Christians and Muslims.

By identifying and meeting a basic need, like clean water, which both religious communities could benefit from, VOM stated in a May 13 news release, their intent was to progress reconciliation between the two groups.

While initially skeptical of the Christian group's efforts to provide clean water for their villages, some Muslim leaders were "disarmed by the Christian workers' act of love," the release stated.

"Love is our greatest weapon," a VOM partner said, pointing to the stark contrast between the Islamic extremists and the Christians who died for their faith.

"In a background like ours, in which violence and weapons are the way to impose submissiveness, love is the greatest weapon a Christian possesses," the partner said.

Still, the effort to diffuse the polarity between the Christians and Muslims in the region is an uphill battled evidenced by Muslim protests over government plans to allow a church to be built in one of the villages. After first offering to pay for the building at state expense, the government has apparently backed out in order to appease powerful Muslim forces in that country Daily News Egypt reported.

A VOM report stated the frustration had stemmed from the constant focus on Christian suffering which angered an Islamic population weary of attention from media through the region.

Daily News Egypt reports attacking properties of Christians and churches in Egypt was in protest against Christian support of military power against the Muslim Brotherhood began in August, 2013 and has since faded, but has never completely gone away.

Still, the VOM notes a focus on the installation of the water filters in all five villages is just one of three ministry projects planned to serve the families in their campaign of love.