Islamic State militants in Syria heinously tortured and killed a 12-year-old boy, along with 11 indigenous Christian missionaries, after they refused to leave their homeland or renounce Christ.
According to the Virginia-based Christian Aid Mission, a group that has been in contact with the slain missionaries' director, all 12 victims were captured on Aug. 7 in a village on the outskirts of Aleppo.
Three weeks later, IS militants questioned the captives about whether they converted from Islam when they became Christians, an offense that is punishable by death under the Islamic State's twisted legal code. The Christian captives were honest and admitted that they were once Muslims.
The IS jihadis demanded the captives reconvert to Islam, but the Christians asserted that they would never renounce their love for Christ.
On Aug. 28, IS militants split the 12 captives into two groups. A group of four, which included the 41-year-old team leader, his 12-year-old son and two other ministry workers, were taken to one village for questioning. On the same day, the other eight captives were questioned in another village.
In the one village, militants began questioning the ministry workers, the son and the team leader — who had helped establish nine house churches in the area.
After the Christians refused to renounce Christ and explained to the militants that God wanted them to stay in the area to share the Gospel, the four of them were tortured and crucified in front of a crowd. The ministry leader also explained that the four victims were left to die beside signs that identified them as "infidels."
"All were badly brutalized and then crucified," the ministry leader, who had trained all of the workers for the evangelistic ministry, said. "They were left on their crosses for two days. No one was allowed to remove them."
But before the four Christians were crucified, the militants cut the fingertips off the boy and forced his father to watch.
"In front of the team leader and relatives in the crowd, the Islamic extremists cut off the fingertips of the boy and severely beat him, telling his father they would stop the torture only if he, the father, returned to Islam," the Christian Aid Mission report states. "When the team leader refused, relatives said, the ISIS militants also tortured and beat him and the two other ministry workers. The three men and the boy then met their deaths in crucifixion."
The eight other missionaries who were questioned in another village were beheaded after they refused to convert to Islam. Two of the missionaries were women who were 29 and 33 years old. Before the women were beheaded, they were publicly raped and beaten by militants. Throughout their abuse, the women continuously prayed.
When the eight victims were forced to kneel for their beheadings, all eight prayed loudly.
"Villagers said some were praying in the name of Jesus, others said some were praying the Lord's Prayer, and others said some of them lifted their heads to commend their spirits to Jesus," the ministry director explained. "One of the women looked up and seemed to be almost smiling as she said, 'Jesus!'"
After the eight were beheaded, their headless bodies were hung on crosses.
"They kept on praying loudly and sharing Jesus until their last breath," the director said. "They did this in front of the villagers as a testimony for others."
As IS continues to gain control of more areas in Syria, more former Muslims are at risk of being killed and brutalized by the terror group for violating the caliphate's apostasy law. But according to the ministry director, such threat of persecution is not stopping Muslims from turning to Jesus.
"What is happening is more and more people are being saved," he said. "The ministry is growing and growing. In the past we used to pray to have one person from a Muslim background come to the Lord. Now, there are so many we can barely handle all the work among them."