Gaza (MNN) — Gaza's minority Christian community was badly shaken over the weekend after the director of the Christian Bookstore run by the Bible Society was found beaten, stabbed and shot to death. Rami Ayyad was 29 years old and an active member of the Gaza Baptist Church.
E3 Partners works with the church, and E3's Tom Doyle received a call from 29-year-old Rami Ayyad's pastor Sunday. "Rami was kidnapped Saturday after he had closed the Bible Society. He was taken away by a group, and the next morning they threw his body out somewhere around the Bible Society. He had been killed."
Ayyad is survived by his wife, who is pregnant, and two sons. According to Doyle, no one has claimed responsibility. "They do know that he was getting threats and was being followed for the last several days."
The murder of Rami Ayyad came six months after the religious bookshop he managed was bombed, apparently by Muslim extremists. The bookshop opened in 1999. It sold Bibles and Christian literature.
This isn't the first attack on Christians in the region in the last year. Doyle says, "An Awana leader (bus driver) was shot and killed. A guard at the church was wounded and in the hospital. The church was taken over twice by different groups fighting against Hamas. The Bible Society was fire-bombed, and then finally it was blown up."
Christians believe Islamic Sharia law is coming, which concerns believers.
Violence, threats and attacks have taken its toll on the Christian community. Doyle says non-Muslims are typically the first to go. But Bible-believing Christians have stayed, hoping to make a difference. "When you see believers going, then the situation has really gotten bad, and that's what's going on in Gaza. We just need to be in prayer for Gaza right now."
Doyle thinks he knows why Christians are being targeted. "I do believe that some of these groups doing these things across the Middle East are responding to people's interest in the Middle East. The same thing is happening in Iran. The young people are open to Jesus."
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered a probe into Ayyad's death.
E3 Partners is providing assistance to help Ayyad's widow. Doyle says they've established a fund to help her provide for her family in the aftermath of her husband's death.
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