I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. Romans 1:16

Like many Egyptian Christians, Ayman, a 17-year-old schoolboy, had a cross tattooed on his wrist. He was in class at his school in Mallawi, Minya province, on 16 October when his Muslim teacher began insulting and harassing the teenager, and told him to cover up the Christian symbol.

Ayman refused and instead boldly displayed a cross necklace that he was wearing under his clothes. The teacher reportedly turned to the other students and said, “What are we going to do with him?”

A group of around 15 students set upon Ayman, who fled to the toilets in an attempt to escape the beating. But the assault continued and he was murdered at the scene. His body was reported to have shown signs of strangulation and having received a heavy blow to the head with a sharp object.

After the teenager’s funeral over 5,000 Christians marched through the streets of Mallawi, denouncing the murder of Ayman whom they described as a “Martyr of the Cross”.

The Cross of Christ is the primal, the supreme, the central, the universal, the eternal symbol of Christianity. Christ’s messengers are messengers of the Cross and all it signifies, or they are not His messengers at all. “Christ Crucified” is the good news which Paul says he delivered “first of all”.

Samuel Zwemer (1867-1952)

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.