It was so hard to react yet again after hearing of another senseless killing of an innocent man of God. A man that was appointed to guide others toward Christ and Christianity. I felt true sadness, but also helplessness, empathetic but powerless , and momentarily distraught, but able to continue on with my day and do what I had to do. It’s occurring so often now that we hear about the persecution here in the States, indicating more copts being killed for absolutely nothing. Sometimes it hits us harder than the time before, especially if pictures of lifeless children are being shared on social media. Other times we feel that moment of sadness, as we should as fellow copts, but quickly move on because really what can we do besides pray for them and for the comfort of their families. That is in no way an underestimation of prayer as prayer really moves the Hand of the one that manages the whole universe as St. Pope Kyrillos VI once said. It’s so hard to accept that all we can do as we see our brothers and sisters suffer is give our condolences and prayers but not our physical help.
They’re fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters, and friends and acquaintances that push me to do better. Supposedly living in fear of dying everyday as they walk the streets of Egypt, but actually living in absolute faith and trust in God are the people I’m speaking of. Their ability to be so meticulous in their faith by seeking the word of God, prayer, communion, and fellowship is what makes me feel so guilty in my own walk with God. I have the freedom to go to church and pray without fear, serve God without distress, and partake in His Body and Blood in peace. These are the things the Copts of Egypt pray for that I take for granted. It is because of events like these that the Copts of Egypt stand out to the world as ordinary people with extraordinary courage. They guide the Copts on the other side of the world to attempt to contain absolute faith and comfort in God through their actions and endurance through tragedies.
It’s difficult not to be moved by the faithfulness of the Copts of Egypt. During a time like this it is easy to drift away from God, but they have not failed in that aspect. Their strength and perseverance to pray harder and sing louder to God after events like these is admirable and can no longer be something we don’t recognize. They really are what it means to be a Christian and are our example. You raise your children to stand in church and in faith with firmness and stability and that is exactly what we see from the other side of the world. It is truly valuable to see the love you share for one another but more importantly the love you have for God.
Father Samaan Shehata’s gruesome murder in the streets of Cairo was just another reminder of what it’s like to be living in a world that disagrees with you. A world that doesn’t see the faith that you see and a world that doesn’t believe in the amazing God that you believe in. Like always though, our faith will continue to grow following this incident because we know that God is close to those who need Him most and the world must know that we need Him now more than we did yesterday and the day before that. There will never be a situation that God cannot get us through and that is excellently portrayed by the Copts of Egypt. It was portrayed after the church bombings and massacres (all of them), after the martyrdom of the 21 Christians in Libya, and surely after the Minya bus shooting that took the lives of innocent individuals on their way to the monastery. This was not the first event that tested their faith and it will definitely not be the last but as long as we know that God is for us, it does not matter who is against us. With their example, our faith will continue to flourish and we will continue to stand together in solidarity.
Dear Copts of Egypt,
Thank you for the daily motivation you give to us on the other side of the world. Thank you for being so strong in your faith even with all that you endure. Thank you for displaying to us what a true walk with God should look like and always pushing us to do better. Thank you for never complaining and showing us what being accepting of your situation looks like. Thank you for showing us how to fight back evil, with prayer and with peace. Thank you for allowing us to see God through you and your little children on a day that the evils of the world are trying so hard to take over. Most of all thank you for being ordinary people with extraordinary courage.
Please keep us in your prayers.