The families of abducted Egyptian workers in Libya staged a demonstration earlier this week to protest the Egyptian government's silence on the capture of the Christians late last year.
The 21 Coptic Christian workers were taken during a string of events in November and December in which terrorist group ISIS has already claimed responsibility.
"Soldiers of the Islamic State captured 21 Christian crusaders," a statement from the Islamic State said, accompanied by a set of photos of the hostages.
The kidnappings began on November 29 of last year when seven Christian men, identified as Samuel Wilson, Ezzat Boshra Nasseef, Luke Nagaty, Essam Badar Sameer, Malak Farag Ibrahim, Sameh Salah Farouk, and Gaber Munir Adly were taken near the Libyan city of Tripoli.
Less than one week later, on December 3, armed men stormed into a house full of Christian workers and kidnapped 13 more men, identified as Maged Shehata Solaiman, Abanoub Ayad Ateyya, Yousef Shukry Yunan, Hani Abdel Massih Saleeb, Kirrolos Boshra Fawzi, Milad Makeen Zaky, Makram Yousef Tawadros, Samuel Estafanous Kamel, Bishoy Estafanous Kamel, Mena Fayez Aziz, Malak Ibrahim Sinewt, Girgis Milad Sinewt, Bishoy Adel Khalaf.
In addition, a 14-year-old Egyptian girl has also been taken, although her whereabouts and condition are currently unknown. Jim Jacobson of Christian Freedom International says that he believes the girl was forced to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim militant.
"As reported by our CFI coworker in Cairo, 'On Tuesday dawn, December 23, armed masked Islamic militants stormed a housing apartment of an Egyptian Christian family in Sirte, Libya, and shot dead Doctor Magdi Sobhi Tawfika and his wife Sahar Talat Rizk. The Muslim militants kidnapped the eldest daughter, Catherine Magdi Sobhi, who is just 14-years-old," Jacobson said. "The militants left alone two other siblings, 10-year-old Carla, and 9-year-old Carol, with the bodies of their murdered parents and fled.'"
Despite ISIS believing that the workers were "Christian crusaders," the workers were there as part of a recent construction boom in Libya that has many Christian Egyptians heading to the neighboring country for work. But many are discovering that it's just not worth it, as seen by the recent murders of seven Coptic Christians near Benghazi, and the torture of dozens more in 2013 after being accused of proselytizing.
In regards to those currently being held in Libya, Jacobson says that they are facing "torture and unspeakable abuse" at the hands of their captors. "Our CFI coworker believes that ISIS is going to execute (behead) the kidnapped Christian men very soon unless there is 'divine intervention,'" he explained. Traditionally, the display of hostage photos is done just before the beheadings begin, according to Jacobson.
"The kidnappings of the Christians took place at various times and locations, with little or no notice or attention by authorities or media," he wrote.
But as the Egyptian demonstrations prove, the government is not willing to do much to step in and save these captives. So Jacobson says all we can do is pray.
"Tragically, by the time you read this, all the aforementioned abducted Christians may be dead," he said. "But please pray. Please pray for the release of the 20 Egyptian Christian men currently being held by ISIS militants in Libya. Pray for their families. Please pray for the safe return of Catherine Magdi Sobhi. Pray that she and her siblings will be reunited at a safe house in Egypt. Pray for God to change the hearts and minds of those who would harm and kill Christians in Egypt and Libya. Pray for the Persecuted Church in Egypt and Libya."