Egyptian-born, US entrepreneur, Johnny Youssef, raised money for families of Egyptian Christian men beheaded by ISIS in Libya. See below the video he used in appealing for funds for the grieving families. However, he says he was unprepared for what he learned when he visited the families in Egypt. He shares that experience in the article below that was published in Charisma News:
I just came back from Egypt.
I had the chance to personally meet with the families of the 21 men who were beheaded by ISIS for their Christian faith. We met at a local church instead of their homes for safety reasons. It is difficult to put in words how glorious and eye-opening the experience was. I think it will take me weeks if not months to capture it all, but here is how it happened and what I learned from it.
Back in February, I was online scrolling through my Facebook feed. Squeezed in between articles on The Kardashians and bunny BuzzFeed videos, I noticed the story of the 21 Christian men who were beheaded by ISIS because of their faith in Jesus.
My heart sank and I was struck by the news for several reasons. Some of the thoughts that raced through my head were:
- How painful must this be to the mothers, fathers, brothers, wives, sons and daughters of those young men?
- How come this is “just another story” and is less important than celebrity-related news?
- Why are we, in the West, so ignorant and lack compassion toward injustices in other parts in the world?
- What can I actually do to make a difference? (We all know complaining about it online doesn’t actually make a difference and neither does blaming political parties)
I was stuck with the last question; I just couldn’t move on without having an answer. What can I actually do to make a difference?
Being an Egyptian myself, I made some phone calls and found a way to reach those families of the beheaded men through local churches. Those families didn’t just lose their loved ones in a very barbaric way, but they also lost their main, if not their only, source of income. Keep in mind that in third-world countries, there is no social security income, food stamps, paying jobs for women in villages, free health care or public schools.
Once I knew those families could be reached, I decided to create an online campaign to raise money for the families. I skipped work that day and I created the campaign with a video.
After getting an incredible amount of public support and many generous donors, $38,155 was raised. I decided that raising the money wan’t enough and I wanted to be there to personally meet the families. A couple of friends decided to join me; they took off work, paid for the trip out of their own pockets and joined me on this journey.
I went thinking that I was making a huge difference to the lives of the people. Thanks to the donors, I was making a huge difference. However, what I didn’t know is that those families were possibly making a greater difference in my life than I was in theirs. After having the chance to chat with them, I was once again in shock at what I heard:
- They have forgiven those evil men of ISIS who brutally murdered their loved ones.
- They have hope in what’s to come despite the circumstances.
- They have faith and confidence that their loved ones are in heaven.
- They had such an unbelievable level of gratefulness for what we were doing.
This has put things in perspective for me. How many times have I had unforgivness over small mistakes done by those who love me? How many times have I been easily offended over posts on social media? How many times have I doubted God’s goodness over small unanswered prayers? How many times have I been so ungrateful when things didn’t go my way? and how many times have I had no hope over small problems I was facing? I am so thankful for this trip, and I believe every person in the West should consider taking the time to go to a third-world nation and spend time with the poor. There are valuable lessons about faith, gratefulness and hope that money can never buy.