It was the Easter attacks in 2017 that highlighted how persecution is on the rise for Egyptian Christians. On Palm Sunday, two churches were attacked by suicide bombers. One church in Tanta and the other in Alexandria, north of Cairo.
In total more than 44 people were killed, and over 100 injured. Both attacks were claimed by the Islamic State, who have vowed to wipe out Egypts Christians.
Naseem was a guard at the church in Alexandria. Since it wasn’t the first time a church had been attacked, Naseem had to come to terms with the fact that he could possibly lose his life working as a guard. He told his wife he would be willing to defend the church with his own blood. And on Palm Sunday, he did.
The bomb killed 16 people, but Naseem’s quick actions to block the attacker saved hundreds inside.
Naseem had served the church for over 20 years. He had two sons, and at the age of 54 he was about to become a grandfather.
His wife was interviewed on a prominent Egyptian talk show. This is what she had this to say:
“I’m not angry at the one who did this. I’m telling him, ‘May God forgive you, and we also forgive you. Believe me, we forgive you.’”
The show’s host couldn’t help but respond, “How great is this forgiveness you have!” he said. “If it were my father, I could never say this. But this is their faith and religious conviction.”
In a region gripped by instability and fear, the Egyptian church is a shining testimony of the grace of God. They lay down their rights for the sake of the gospel. We will stand with our suffering brothers and sisters? Please pray for strength and protection for the Egyptian church. Ask God to help you understand his radical forgiveness and how you can live it out, just like Naseem’s wife.
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A version of this article first appeared on the Open Doors Australia website…
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imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.