Cairo: Believers Mark One Year Since December’s Deadly Church Bombing
Many Christians will stand in church services and through tears remember brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, uncles, grandparents and even children who used to be there.
For Christians in Egypt (#21 on the 2017 World Watch List), the season many Americans look forward to celebrating invokes bittersweet feelings and memories. December marks one year since the deadly bombing attack during Sunday morning mass at St. Peter’s chapel next to St. Mark’s Members of an ethnic religious group from North Africa but primarily Egypt, where they are the largest Christian denomination in the country. Orthodox Cathedral, killing 29 people (all but three were women and children) and injuring more than 60 others in the heart of Cairo.
The attack (on Dec. 11, 2016) was the first-ever suicide bomb attack on an Egyptian church and the deadliest attack on Egypt’s Christian minority in years (only to be followed three months later by twin suicide bomb attacks on Palm Sunday in Tanta and Cairo, once again at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in which nearly 50 Christians died).
Below, one of our persecuted family shares powerful remembrances and asks for prayers throughout this difficult season.
Christmas is approaching soon. Throughout the city, limited Christmas and New Year decorations hang in big Cairo malls and shops. They are bittersweet reminders to Christians of the joy of Christmas (Jesus, our Savior of all mankind)–and the day they remember as if it was yesterday.
For many Christians in Egypt, a hidden sadness wraps around their hearts.
The heartbreaking images of the church’s destruction and loss of life have not faded from the hearts and minds of the families who lost loved ones. For example, there’s Sarah who lost her grandmother and young aunt, and the two sisters, Marian and Mariam, whose father died in the attack. And there’s Nadia Salah Shawky, the widow of, Nabil Habib Abdullah, the Christian guard at the church martyred for his faith that day (pictured, showing the picture of her husband she carries).
Throughout Egypt, the attack left deep scars in the hearts and minds of the estimated 9.5 million million Christians in the country who were, and are still, horrified by the deadly attack.
Indeed, Christmas brings not only sparks of joy but also many concerns and worries. Many Christians will stand in church services and through tears remember brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, uncles, grandparents and even children who used to be there. The spots where they used to sit in church are empty, as are the spaces they have left in the hearts of family and friends.
With Christians and churches in Egypt directly targeted by radical extremists, many are asking valid questions: Which church will be the next target? How many churches will be hit by bloody attacks over the coming weeks of December when persecution against Christians increases? How many Christians will be reluctant to go to church over Christmas and New Year’s Eve in fear of attacks?
Please pray with Egyptian believers:
- that the joy of the Lord, the remembrance of the birth of the Savior and hope of Immanuel may wipe away tears and fears and replace them with joy, peace and hope;
- that the light of God’s people continues to shine in the darkness throughout Egypt;
- that Christians would feel safe and able to gather together to fellowship and celebrate the birth of the Savior;
- that families and friends who lost loved ones in the attack would sense God’s presence and experience in mighty ways the peace that passes all understanding;
- that grieving believers could look for and see God’s redemptive work in the face of loss and tragedy.