Blessed Are the Vanished

An Egpytian Muslim by birth, [Sharaf] el-Din converted to Christianity in 1983 after both he and his wife had visions of Jesus (a surprisingly frequent occurrence in Muslim countries). They left Egypt for Kenya in 1988 to search for employment and to avoid the increasing religious persecution they faced at home. Desperate for a job, Mr. el-Din legally returned to Egypt in 1994. But upon his return, his family did not hear from him for five months because he was immediately “detained.” A hearing was eventually held in which no charges were raised, yet he continued to be detained. After getting legal permission, his lawyer attempted to visit him in the prisons, but he couldn’t find him. The only reason given for his incarceration, informally, was that he converted to Christianity. He was suffering for his faith.
– Mark Dever, “1 Peter: When Things Get Tough,” in The Message of the New Testament (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2005), 445.
In a footnote, Dever writes, “At date of publication, no further information on Mr. el-Din could be found.”
The man simply vanished into the disappearing torture cabinet of martyrdom.
And yet, he did not. He is united with Christ, seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6), hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). Some day we will learn truly that obscurity, lack of recognition, being swallowed up into thin air and forgotten by all earthly powers, whether by persecution or simply by the circumstances of life, is but a light momentary affliction compared to the eternal weight of glory that is every believer’s in Christ Jesus. And I suspect the most glorious of us in the age to come will be those we’d never heard of in the age that is.