By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
TRIPOLI, LIBYA (BosNewsLife)-- An African man acknowledged his faith in Jesus Christ just moments before he was beheaded by Islamic State (IS) militants in Libya, according to new details revealed by several Christian sources.
Mathew Ayairga, who well-informed Christians said originated from Chad but had also been linked to Ghana, was among 21 men killed by IS fighters for refusing to embrace Islam.
He was not a Christian yet when forced to join other kidnapped men dressed in orange jumpsuits, kneeling on a beach, with their black-clothed attackers standing behind.
But just moments before his death, when asked to follow Islam, Ayairga refused, according to video footage.
After reportedly witnessing the "immense faith" of fellow believers, who all came from Egypt, he decided to become a follower of Christ himself. Each man had been praying, "Lord Jesus Christ," in their final moments before they were beheaded.
"THEIR GOD, MY GOD"
On camera, one of the militants could be seen asking Ayairga: "Do you reject Christ?" He responded boldly: "Their God is my God."
He then became "one of the 21 men who laid down their lives for their faith in Christ," commented advocacy group Voice Of the Martyrs, which closely monitors the plight of persecuted Christians in the area.
Ayairga's death resembled that of the Biblical itinerant preacher John the Baptist who was reportedly beheaded after criticizing King Herod for marrying his brother Philip’s wife.
Evangelical Christian scholars agree that it is never "too late" to become a Christian in life, referring to a criminal who was crucified with Jesus and reportedly asked: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus was heard answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise,” according to Bible's Luke 23:43.
VIDEO FOOTAGE OF MASSACRE
Ayairga, originally identified as Samuel A. Wilson, was recognized by friends after IS released video footage of the massacre. He had been missing since January 2015, Christians said.
New revelations about his death came after Ethiopia ended three days of national mourning for dozens of Ethiopian Christians who were shown being killed by Islamic State (IS) group militants in Libya after they apparently refused to convert to Islam.
The video, published over the weekend, showed IS fighters calling Christians "crusaders" who are out to kill Muslims. A dozen men could be seen being beheaded on a beach and another group of at least 16 being shot in the head in a desert area.
Militants could be heard calling the detainees "followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church". A masked fighter in black brandishing a pistol made a statement threatening Christians if they did not convert to Islam.
As many other believers they refused.
NOT GIVING UP HOPE
In a statement to supporters, advocacy group Voice Of the Martyrs said it was crucial not to give up hope.
"Let us thank God for the unshakable truth that He will make all things right in His perfect timing, despite the evil onslaughts of the enemy," added the group, which has been in close contact with reportedly persecuted believers.
"We can also rejoice in the knowledge that all of these 21 martyred men are now present with our Lord Jesus Christ in heaven [according to Bible verse] 2 Corinthians 5:8)".
However, "Continue to pray for those who are grieving over this loss, as they understandably miss their dear loved ones. May God's compassionate and comforting presence be experienced in a special way by each one of them, and may His provision meet their every need," the group said in a prayer message.