On Palm Sunday, April 9, 49 people were killed in two ISIS attacks on churches in Egypt. Michael Nabil Ragheb, the father of a 3-year-old and deacon in Saint George Church in Tanta, was one of them. His widow, Sara, shared her story of loss and grace with one of our field workers.
When Sara heard a loud blast and everything in the church went dark, she thought the end of the world had come.
“Michael, my husband, had sensed something like this was going to happen. The day before, on our daughter’s third birthday, he told us he thought he would soon be among the martyrs in heaven.”
That morning, the dreary premonition led Michael to ask his wife and daughter to sit in the last bench, in the back of the church—instead of close to him, in the front row.
“I was a bit surprised about that,” Sara says, “But looking back, I know that it was God’s will.” After leaving his family on the last bench of the church, Michael put on his deacon rope and went to the front of the church, where he was in charge of the singing that day.
“He asked me to wait for him after the service. But he never came back.” Sara will never be able to wipe the horrible images of what happened next from her memory.
“It was about ten minutes past nine. All of the sudden, I heard the sound of a big explosion, the church shook like there was an earthquake. The smoke filled the church, and it became dark. I heard people screaming. I was screaming, too. I was screaming the name of my husband and rushed to the place of the deacon choir, where I hoped to find him alive.”
It’s difficult for Sara to continue her story. “What I saw on my way to him was horrible, like a massacre had just taken place. The bodies of dead church members and pools of blood. Then I saw my husband. I was in shock. He was just lying there, like the others. Gone to heaven like he had sensed would happen.”
Sara and Michael had been married for four years. Sara and daughter Priscilla will have to continue their lives without their beloved husband and father. “I loved him so much,” Sara says. She sees it as a sacrifice for Christ, but not one she has to deal with alone. “Despite everything, God has put comfort, peace and great grace in my heart.”
About her husband, Sara doesn’t worry. She knows he is in the place of the One he loved most. “My husband lived a life of heaven on earth. He was always praying and reading the Bible. I am happy for him. He is in a good place now—in heaven—in front of the throne of grace. He is there with Jesus.”
*Please share this and continue to pray for Christians in Egypt.