WARNING: The following account of the persecution of Christians in Syria contains graphic depictions of violence, including rape and murder. Christian Examiner presents it to draw attention to the plight of Christians in the Middle East, but also to honor the Lord Jesus Christ, whom the faithful confessed unto the point of death.
ALEPPO, Syria (Christian Examiner) – Another horrifying account of the persecution of Christians has filtered out of Syria, where forces of the Islamic State crucified and beheaded 11 indigenous Christian workers, as well as the 12-year-old son of one of the church planters.
Christian Aid Mission reports that the relatives of those killed reported they were captured Aug. 7 as they worked in a village (the actual location was not disclosed for security reasons). They were held for three weeks before they were brought out in front of the village and asked if they had once been Muslims. The members of the team responded that they had.
Asked if they would return to Islam, the team members again replied "no." According to Christian Aid Mission's report, the team leader, only 41 years old, led as many as nine house churches in the area.
"In front of the team leader and 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 only if he, the father, returned to Islam. When the team leader refused, relatives said, the ISIS militants also tortured and beat him and the two other ministry workers. The three men and the boy then met their deaths in crucifixion," the report said.
The men and the boy were left on the crosses, marked with the sign "infidels," for two days.
The report continued:
"Eight other ministry team members, including two women, were taken to another site in the village that day (Aug. 28) and were asked the same questions before a crowd. The women, ages 29 and 33, tried to tell the ISIS militants they were only sharing the peace and love of 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 ISIS militants to beat them all the more furiously."
Eyewitnesses to the beatings and torture also said the women and six more men from the party were dragged to the middle of the village and forced to kneel before they were beheaded. Villagers then said the Christians began to pray.
"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 of the women looked up and seemed to be almost smiling as she said, 'Jesus!'"
Christian Aid Mission claims those who were beheaded also had their bodies hung on crosses.
The report from Christian Aid Mission has not yet been independently verified, but on Aug. 8, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that as many as 250 people had been kidnapped and remained missing after ISIS militants ceased their small town, Qariyatain in Homs Province, in a counter-offensive against the Syrian government.
A subsequent report said the number was closer to 230, with roughly 60 being members of Christian families. No information was available on the whereabouts of the Christian families, but sources within Syria claimed ISIS militants had been paid the Jizya, or religious tax, by "Christian clerks" in the town.
Those who pay the Jizya may continue to practice Christianity, but they may not do so outside of their home and they may not expose the public to a Bible or any Christian literature. Those who refuse to pay the tax are normally killed.
During his address on ISIS to the UN General Assembly Sept. 29, President Barack Obama said ISIS was murdering Muslims across the Middle East en masse. He did not mention the murder of Christians in his address.