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How I Met The Families Of The Beheaded Christians & What I learned

Family members of Egyptian Christians martyred by ISIS

I just came back from Egypt. I had the chance to personally meet with the families of the 21 men that 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 and 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 funny buzzfeed videos, I noticed the story of the 21 Christian men that 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 this must 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 that many other celebrity-related news?
  • Why are we, in the west, so ignorant and lack compassion towards injustices in other parts in the world?
  • What can I actually do to make a difference? (Because 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 the main, if not the only, source of income. Keep in mind that in third-world countries, there are no social security income, food stamps, paying jobs for women in villages, free health care or public schools, etc. Once I knew those families can 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 were raised. I decided that raising the money isn’t enough and I wanted to be there to personally meet the families. 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 am making a huge difference to the lives of the people. Which, 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, struck in shock with what I was hearing:

  • They have forgiven those evil men of ISIS who brutally murdered their loved ones.
  • They have hope in what 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.

Placing the money in envelopes for each of the families and putting them in gift boxes; each containing a plaque with a Bible verse as a remembrance to the families of God’s faithfulness and provision.IMG_8899Handing the plaques with the money for a family member of each victim



Issam’s (one of the martyrs) little brother, wife and daughter.


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 that 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.

I will be posting more photos and posts on my blog as I am processing those valuable life lessons learned. Please feel free to share the post to others that can be inspired by it and subscribe to my blog.

Have you been among the poor before? What lessons have you learned? Would love to hear your comments below!

– Johnny Youssef

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  • Susan Feb 20,2016 at 11:06 am

    I remember seeing your video last year from a friend on Facebook.
    I was moved with compassion to give and then share on my FB wall.
    Today, a FB ‘reminder’ popped up and I found your blog. So blessed to read this update and so very thankful for you giving us opportunity to help our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering persecution.

    • Johnny Youssef Feb 22,2016 at 2:16 am

      Thank you so much for the kind words Susan! I am praying about different ideas to continue helping the families and the poor around that area in Egypt. Hopefully I will have some updates soon! Thank you for following my website! Hope it’s of encouragement to you.

  • Dolly Caswell Nov 5,2015 at 2:50 pm

    Johnny, not only were you a blessing to those families, but your love AND action to help them is no doubt pleasing to our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ. Did you ever get the $5,000 for each that you wanted?

    • Johnny Youssef Nov 5,2015 at 10:39 pm

      Thanks for the kind words Dolly! We didn’t reach $5,000 to each family. We got about $40,000 in total but it was still a great blessing to many! I appreciate your help and prayers!

  • Anonymous Nov 2,2015 at 2:50 am

    […] “How I Met The Families Of The Beheaded Christians & What I Learned” Read the fascinating account of one young man who traveled to Egypt to meet the families of the 21 men beheaded by Isis because of their Christian faith. […]

  • John Lambert Oct 25,2015 at 6:24 pm

    Johnny, Thank you for taking the initiative to do this for our precious family there in Egypt. Often we feel that there is nothing we can do, but you took a step of faith and did something. Thank you.

  • Donna Corway Oct 23,2015 at 5:56 pm

    God bless you. I pray for the Christians going through such terrible circumstances.

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