On Palm Sunday, we heard the terrible news of bombings targeting Coptic Christians in Alexandria and Tanta, Egypt. At least 46 people were killed and a state of emergency was declared in Egypt.
As we stand together in prayer with our brothers and sisters in Egypt, Ramez Atallah, General Director of the Bible Society of Egypt, provides his reflection in the aftermath of the bombings.
A message from the Bible Society of Egypt
Thanks to all who expressed concern and prayers following the tragic bombings in the churches of Tanta and Alexandria. Palm Sunday is one of the busiest days on our church calendar. Egyptian Christians carry intricately woven palm branches. They chant “Hosanna to the King of Kings.” It is a day of joyful celebration.
Then the first bomb exploded.
Instantly, many robed chanters participating in the liturgy exchanged their now-bloodied, earthly robes for martyrs’ robes washed white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14). A few hours later, the second bomb exploded in Alexandria as a suicide bomber detonated his explosive device outside Saint Mark’s Church. Altogether, 46 people went from celebrating by faith to celebrating by sight, meeting their saviour face to face. Many more were wounded. The funerals were a mixture of wailing and rejoicing, as a bishop explained:
True, we love martyrdom. But we also love life. We don’t hate life on earth. God created us on earth to live, not die. The fact that we accept death doesn’t mean our blood is cheap, and it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter to us. We do not commit suicide. But we witness for Christ, whether by our lives or by our transition to heaven. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Bishop conducting one of the funerals
Social Media is abuzz. In many instances, Muslims who are outraged at the blind and evil hatred of this atrocity, have expressed frustration with Christians in all their talk of love and forgiveness. As with previous attacks, the sense of revenge is minimal as families embrace martyrdom as a gift from and to God. In one of the news reports, we see a Muslim interviewer’s astonishment with the forgiveness shown by the widow of the gatekeeper who prevented the suicide bomber from entering the Alexandria church yard, thereby saving countless lives.
What is happening in Egypt is not a 2,000-year-old legend, but a modern, living testimony to the power of the Christian faith.
General Director of the Bible Society of Egypt
- Pray for the Church of the Martyrs, as they seek to faithfully apply the teachings and example of Jesus to forgive and carry on.
- Pray for patience in the midst of sorrow and grief.
- Pray for victory over bitterness and anger.
- Pray for our church and government leaders.
All photos courtesy of Getty Images