"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20
A young Syrian man sentenced to death by ISIS has shared how he embraced Christianity - a religion he one found "ridiculous" - after God changed the heart of a terrorist judge who sought to kill him.
World Watch Monitor shares the story of Meghrik, a young man travelling from Aleppo to Al-Qamishli in the north east of Syria when fighters with the Islamic State terrorist group confronted him, asking him if he was a Christian.
Meghrik answered "no", explaining that while he was raised by Christian parents and the family name was on his ID card, he didn't believe in God anymore and found Christianity "ridiculous."
"You're lying. Your name says you're a Christian. Come with me," the fighter said.
Eventually, Meghrik was sent to Raqaa, where an ISIS judge sentenced him to death for his supposed Christian faith.
"But I am not a Christian, I don't believe what my parents taught me," he told the judge in a whisper.
"This is the verdict," the judge replied.
Meghrik was thrown into his prison cell, and later, men in black clothes took him to be executed. They tied his arms, covered his eyes and pushed him into a car. After driving through the city, they arrived at an open area, where there were graves already dug for those sentenced to death.
While sitting in the hole, waiting for his execution, Meghrik listened to the ISIS fighter load their weapons. Tears ran down the young man's cheeks and he felt completely helpless.
"The moment they threw me in the hole to kill me, I said to God, 'If you exist, please give me a chance to get to know you,'" Meghrik told WWM.
Seconds passed but there was no shot. Then one of the soldiers broke the silence: "You can live if you convert to Islam," the soldier said.
"I will convert," replied Meghrik, seeing no other way out.
The men took him out of the hole and back to the room where he was imprisoned. While he felt relieved, a man in the cell with him said, "Converting is of no use. They kill you anyway".
The next day, soldiers took him to be interrogated and tortured, and gave him 30 lashes from a length of cable; this treatment went on for two more days. Meghrik was then once again placed before a judge, who told him he would soon be released.
Ten days after he was kidnapped, Meghrik walked out of the IS prison holding a document that gave him the right to pass through IS checkpoints and return home to his parents.
Asked why he felt he wasn't killed, Meghrik says it was an answer to prayer, even though he hadn't felt able to accept the existence of God: "God changed the heart of the judge and he set me free," he said.
Raqqa, located east of Aleppo, is the "terrorist capital" of the Islamic State. After taking control of the city in January of 2014, the jihadi death cult began a genocidal campaign against the city's Shia Alawites, suspected supporters of Bashar al-Assad, and Christians, reports Asia News.
The Christian population in Syria, the region where Christianity began 2,000 years ago, has been reduced by two-thirds since the beginning of the country's civil war in 2011, from 1.5 million to only 500,000 today. In Raqqa, just a dozen Christian families remain, and are forced under threat of execution to convert, pay an "infidel" tax or go into hiding, Fox News notes.
Heavy reports that Raqqa is caught in the middle of several powers involved in the Syrian Civil War, and the retaking of the city is subject to American bipartisanship, as President Donald Trump announced that he plans to scrap former President Obama's "months-old plan" to capture the city.