The ultimate price to pay for your faith is your life. Last year, over 3,000 Christians around the paid that cost. One of them was an Egyptian priest, Samaan Shehata. Last October was stabbed to death on the streets of Cairo while collecting funds for his work with the poor. His friend and fellow priest Benjamin Moftah was with him when it happened. An Open Doors contact visited Benjamin him to talk about the death of his friend and to see how the event has influenced his own faith.
It’s a busy day in the church when we visit priest Benjamin in his rural Egyptian village. The children are practising their songs in the downstairs chapel while upstairs builders are working on a new chapel. As villagers lead their cows back to the stable for the night, Father Benjamin begins sharing. “I love Jesus,” he says. “I want to live close to Him. Be as close to Him as a man is close to his wife.”
He is eager to share about his good friend, priest Samaan, who lived in the nearby village. The two had been friends since they studied together, and Father Benjamin had a great respect for his friend who was dedicated to serving God. “He really loved the people of his village, both Christian and Muslim. He helped all of them regardless of their religion. And he made long, tiring trips to collect funds for this work.”
“In Jesus there is no fear of death… I just do what God asks of me. Fear would make me passive…”
Priest Samaan’s faith and service came with a price; even though he was also helping Muslims, or maybe even because of it, he was occasionally threatened by extremists, but that didn’t stop him. However, his dedication cost him his life. Together with priest Benjamin he was in Cairo to collect funds for his work among the poor when a young man wielding a meat cleaver blocked the vehicle and forced Samaan to get out.
Later, the attacker would declare that he had been waiting near the local church to find a priest to kill. “Christians are infidels and killing them is a religious duty,” he said. The attacker succeeded in his mission — he injured Benjamin and killed Samaan.
Father Benjamin misses his friend, but he isn’t sad. “In Jesus there is no fear of death. Priest Samaan is in a good place now with Christ who He loves so much.” Benjamin still lives on earth, but he feels close to Christ as well. “I live my life with Christ,” he explains. “I start the day with prayer, alone and with my family. And throughout the day I keep praying. I lift my heart towards God, He is very much part of my daily life, He lives inside me.”
The incident hasn’t impacted priest Benjamin’s work among the villagers negatively. In fact, after the death of his friend, he became even more fearless. “I feel like I can move even more freely after the death of priest Samaan. I just do what God asks of me. Fear would make me passive,” he says. “My biggest desire is to be with God, for now this is on earth as He hasn’t called me home yet. But if I die, I still am with God in heaven. My life belongs to God.”
The killer of Father Samaan was sentenced to death in January 2018.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.