Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other… They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. Luke 12:51-52a, 53

Gerges was a Sudanese Christian who was reportedly killed by his own son, Vector, in late November 1995.

Vector had previously converted to Islam, which had split family loyalties, and it seems that Gerges’ active commitment to his Christian faith angered his son, for which the whole family paid a heavy price.

Gerges had tried to prevent Vector from converting his sisters to Islam and also helped a relative to escape from Sudan after he had been denied an exit visa.

The relative had been penalised in this way because Gerges was employing a Muslim who had converted to Christianity.

Sudan was torn apart by decades of civil war, with the largely Muslim and Arab North fighting to Arabise and impose sharia on the mainly non-Muslim, African South, where millions were killed or displaced by the violence.

The Israel family was divided and destroyed by a microcosm of this conflict.

Dear Lord,
this body, this blood, this bread, this wine,
this love’s tryst with you is the living heart of faith.

From this communion comes love and hope.
From this communion comes forgiveness and peace.
From this communion comes healing and strength.
From this communion comes life that never ends.

Lord, may I live in communion with you now and always.
Frank Topping (1909-1997), The Words of Christ
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.