So marveled Egyptian TV host Amr Adeeb, in the aftermath of the Palm Sunday bombings of Christians by ISIS. The forgiveness expressed by a widow of one of the victims had taken his breath away:
Stunned, Adeeb stammered about Copts bearing atrocities over hundreds of years, but couldn’t escape the central scandal.
“How great is this forgiveness you have!” his voice cracked. “If it were my father, I could never say this. But this is their faith and religious conviction.”
Millions marveled with him across the airwaves of Egypt.
It has often been said of the ancient church that the blood of martyrs was the seed of the Church. The witness of the Coptic community, which has seen numerous attacks in the past few years, has made an impact, both on the Coptic church itself, and on the wider community.
Christianity Today quoted Christian psychiatrist and former member of parliament Ehab el-Kharrat as saying, “The Coptic community is definitely in defiance. The services of Holy Week have doubled in attendance, and the churches are flowing out into the streets.”
With regard to their muslim neighbors:
“The families of the martyrs are promoting a worldview that is 180 degrees contrary to that of the terrorists,” he said. “The great majority of Egyptians now carry deep respect for the Copts, who are viewed as patriotic people of faith.”
Two churches in Egypt were attacked today during Palm Sunday services, killing scores of worshippers. Our prayers go out to our persecuted brethren.
In Tanta, news footage shows people gathered at the church, singing hymns. The video then quickly switches to bars as harrowing screams and cries echo in the background.
“Everything is destroyed inside the church” and blood can be seen on marble pillars, said Peter Kamel, who saw the aftermath of the carnage.
You can read more at CNN.
Thankfully, Ahmad Rahami, the man behind the New Jersey and New York bombings last week, was inept. No one was killed by the bombings. Thieves stole one of his suitcases, dropping the bomb that was inside and leaving it behind on the sidewalk as they fled with the stolen item. The suspect himself was arrested after being discovered sleeping in the doorway of a bar. In his running firefight with cops, he failed to kill anyone. In the end he was shot in the leg and subdued, rather than being ushered into the afterlife as a martyr. This terrorist wannabe was a loser on just about every measure that ISIS or other jihadist groups might use to evaluate him.
Don’t get me wrong; I am grateful! I will hope and pray that the real God–the God of peace–may become known to Mr. Rahami as he pays his debt to society behind bars.
You can read more of the strange tale of his last hours of freedom at The Telegraph (and elsewhere): “The Strange Story of an Unsuccessful terrorist: How New York bombing suspect Ahmad Rahami was caught”.
Earlier this week, two assailants loyal to ISIS entered a church in St. Etienne, near Rouen in France. They forced the 86 year old priest, Fr Jacques Hamel, to kneel and then slit his throat. The attackers were later shot by police.
Fr. Hamel was remembered as a kind and quiet man, who loved his work and chose not to retire when he could have done so. “He was loved by all. He was a little like a grandfather”, stated one mourner.
Further information available at New York Times”.
More than 80 people were killed, including 10 children, in the latest atrocity.
The man who used a truck to fatally mow down dozens of people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, has been identified by authorities as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhel, a French-Tunisian resident of the southern coastal city.
You can read more at CNN or news venue of your choice.
Our prayers for people of France, echoing the words of an Orthodox prayer for times of trouble:
Lord of the Powers be with us, for in times of distress we have no other help but You.
Lord of the Powers, have mercy on us.
(From Orthodox Prayer site).
Once again we pray for our beleaguered and persecuted brethren overseas.
Eight suicide bombers launched two waves of attacks on the Christian town of Al Qaa in northeastern Lebanon on Monday, killing at least five people and raising fears that violence from the civil war in neighboring Syria will further destabilize Lebanon, its fragile neighbor.
Read it all: New York Times.
Al Jazeera Reports that the second attack took place while people were gathering for the funeral preparations following the first bombing. Two men on a motorcycle tossed a grenade at the crowd and then detonated their vests.
Around 70 people were killed and more than 341 injured when a suicide bomber attacked a park in Lahore where Christians had thronged for Easter. A high percentage of the victims were women and children. You can read more at CNN.
Once again our prayers go out to our European brethren as they cope with the aftermath of an Islamic terror attack.
A Kenyan Muslim teacher who risked his life to shield Christians who were on a bus with him, has died from the gunshot wound he received.
Salah Farah was on a bus travelling through Mandera in Kenya when it was attacked by al-Shabab in December.
The attackers told the Muslims and Christians to split up but he was among Muslim passengers who refused.
A bullet hit Mr Farah and almost a month on, he died in hospital in the capital, Nairobi.
In interviews, when asked why he did this, he replied,
“people should live peacefully together”.
“We are brothers.
“It’s only the religion that is the difference, so I ask my brother Muslims to take care of the Christians so that the Christians also take care of us… and let us help one another and let us live together peacefully”.
Read more at BBC.
We laud his heroism. “Greater love hath no man than this…” (See John 15:13)