A Poem of Hope – Two Rows by the Sea

Two rows by the sea

A little over a week ago, the world stopped for a moment on hearing the news of 21 Coptic Christians, murdered by ISIS on the shores of a beach in Tripoli. Coptic Christians don’t get much attention on the world stage, but this was different. The pictures of those orange clad men on the beach surfaced everywhere, the stories of their lives gaining more attention every day.

We are a people of short attention spans, so what has not gotten attention is how Egypt itself has responded to the killings. Coptic Christians are familiar with persecution, and often it is at the hands of their fellow Egyptians. Yesterday I received a poem forwarded to me from my husband. Egyptians at the Bible Society of Egypt wrote it to be distributed in a pamphlet, along with other verses of comfort and hope. By Thursday they had printed over one million copies ready to distribute across Egypt.

This is hope indeed. Several times I have said that the people most afraid of ISIS are those who are sitting on comfortable couches in well-designed living rooms. As I pass on this poem, my hope is that we, in the often spiritually bankrupt West, are challenged by our brothers and sisters in the East.

Two rows of men walked the shore of the sea,
On a day when the world’s tears would run free,
One a row of assassins, who thought they did right,
The other of innocents, true sons of the light,
One holding knives in hands held high,
The other with hands empty, defenseless and tied,
One row of slits to conceal glaring-dead eyes,
The other with living eyes raised to the skies,
One row stood steady, pall-bearers of death,
The other knelt ready, welcoming heaven’s breath,
One row spewed wretched, contemptible threats,
The other spread God-given peace and rest.
A Question…
Who fears the other?
The row in orange, watching paradise open?
Or the row in black, with minds evil and broken?

Two Rows by the Sea©Bible Society of Egypt


I would be remiss if I did not speak to the many others who have been brutally murdered or displaced by ISIS. In early November I sat with women and men in a refugee camp, all Yezidis, all affected by ISIS. They lost their homes and the lives they knew; many watched beloved family members killed. My husband came back from Erbil two weeks ago. He too sat with people who had to flee their homes because of ISIS. In all these places — Egypt, Turkey, Iraq — the Church is coming alongside the grieving, offering comfort and hope.

Picture Credit: Bible Society of Egypt

*You can read more about the Bible Society here and here.

12 thoughts on “A Poem of Hope – Two Rows by the Sea

  1. The poem ‘two rows by the sea’ is very profound and portrays the christian outlook in the right perspective. Pl put in the poet’s name….


  2. What a tribute to these innocent believers – only eternity will reveal the power and hope this will bring to so many other persecuted believers round the world. also, what am I doing to alleviate some of the burden many believers live in?.


  3. 21 Martyrs

    21 fallen
    21 raised
    Jesus on their lips
    21 saved
    Silenced voices
    Words live on
    21 martyred
    For God’s only Son
    For God’s only Son

    21 soldiers
    Carried the cross
    Would not be silenced
    In spite of the cost
    The water was tainted
    From blood of the lambs
    Cried “Jesus take me”
    Just as I am
    Just as I am

    Lord will you give me
    Strength I may need
    If asked to deny You
    While down on my knees
    Like 21 soldiers
    I want to be found
    Standing for Jesus
    For those all around
    For those all around


  4. Marilyn, I think most of us are speechless when it comes to responding to the terrible atrocities and violence inflicted upon our fellow human beings. Responses like the poem you shared help us to get our minds around events that challenge us to the core. Every time I hear or read about one more unbelievable act, LORD HAVE MERCY is all I can say.

    Liked by 1 person

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