We have learned with horror of Palm Sunday’s attack on an Egyptian Coptic church and cathedral. We have prayed for their families and their country: that the roots of the gospel will sink deep and bring eternal redemption and reconciliation for millions of Egyptians.
The gate-keeper at the Cathedral in Alexandria stopped the bomber from entering, and suffered martyrdom, but saved hundreds. One life to save many.
Is God at work in this? Take two-and-a-half minutes, and watch the astonishment and the comments of a Muslim News Anchor after an interview with gatekeeper’s widow. This aired on Egypt TV in the last couple of days. Click here.
The following letter comes from my friend Ramez Atallah, General Director of The Bible Society of Egypt. He references the News Anchor below.
Thanks to all who expressed concern and prayers following the tragic bombings in the churches of Tanta and Alexandria.
Palm Sunday is one of the busiest days on our church calendar. Egyptian Christians carry intricately woven palm branches. They chant “Hosanna to the King of Kings.” It is a day of joyful celebration.
Then the first bomb exploded.
Instantly, many robed chanters participating in the liturgy exchanged their now-bloodied, earthly robes for martyrs’ robes washed white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14). A few hours later, the second bomb exploded in Alexandria as a suicide bomber detonated his explosive device outside Saint Mark’s Church. Altogether, 46 people went from celebrating by faith to celebrating by sight, meeting their savior face to face. Many more were wounded.
The funerals were a mixture of wailing and rejoicing, as a bishop explained:
“True, we love martyrdom. But we also love life. We don’t hate life on earth. God created us on earth to live, not die. The fact that we accept death doesn’t mean our blood is cheap, and it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter to us. We do not commit suicide. But we witness for Christ, whether by our lives or by our transition to heaven. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord.”
Social Media is abuzz. In many instances, Muslims who are outraged at the blind and evil hatred of this atrocity, have expressed frustration with Christians in all their talk of love and forgiveness. As with previous attacks, the sense of revenge is minimal as families embrace martyrdom as a gift from and to God. [Witness] the Muslim interviewer’s astonishment with the widow of the gatekeeper who prevented the suicide bomber from entering the Alexandria church yard, thereby saving countless lives. What is happening in Egypt is not a 2000-year-old legend, but a modern, living testimony to the power of the Christian faith.
Please pray for the Church of the Martyrs, as they seek to faithfully apply the teachings and example of Jesus to forgive and carry on. Pray for patience in the midst of sorrow and grief. Pray for victory over bitterness and anger. Pray for our church and government leaders.
And as you celebrate this weekend, may you be inspired by the witness of many Egyptian Christians whose faith epitomizes the true meaning of Easter.
Sincerely in Christ,
Ramez Atallah, General Director, The Bible Society of Egypt
Friends reading this blog post: be in prayer for Egypt. Visit www.bibles4egypt.com to see the work there. Perhaps a short-term mission trip from Grace is in our future?!
Pray for us believers here… We’re not in physical danger, so we are lulled to sleep. I don’t hear the kind of radical forgiveness from Christians in the West. “Radical forgiveness” = gospel forgiveness. Rather, I hear us complain and murmur, and try to squeeze Jesus into a busy life, and wring our hands at the decline of our cultural norms, and yearn for ‘days past’.
But I think we need to dive into the life of radical forgiveness & radical devotion to Christ exhibited our Egyptian brothers and sisters. We need their leadership to help us grow. I wonder how we are short-circuiting God’s deeper gospel work in our culture?
“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24