Shot coming out of Sunday School in Egypt
“Church Pastor’s Niece, 10, Gunned Down Leaving Sunday School Class, Dozens Injured as Attacks Against Egypt’s Christians Continue,” from MidEast Christian News, August 7 (thanks to Filip):
An horrific attack has taken place against Egypt’s Christian Coptic community, after several unidentified individuals indiscriminately opened fire in front of the Evangelical church in Ain Shams, a suburb of Cairo, killing Jessi Paulis Issa, 10, and injuring dozens of Copts.
According to reports, Issa was the niece of the church’s pastor. After the killing, Issa’s young body was transferred to the Cairo forensics team as the Copt community were left to mourn the latest horrendous attack against them.
“Bearded men belonging to Morsi’s supporters opened fire on the citizens as they were exiting from the church,” one witness described. “They fled the scene in a pick-up truck.”
Pastor Nasrallah Zakaria told Mideast Christian News that the funeral prayers for his niece, Jessi Paulis, would be held this week in the church, after her autopsy is performed. He has described that his niece, Jessi, was leaving her Sunday school class at the church when she was gunned down.
The pastor said he does not know why Copts are being targeted throughout Egypt and called on the government to urgently help to bring a halt to the violence against Christians and the daily threats against them.
He added that the Copts are being used as a winning card to achieve political gains.”
The new year of Sunday School is about to start at our congregation. That makes this story more poignant. What would things be like if one of our little children was shot after leaving Sunday School–specifically because people were going around town trying to kill and terrorize Christians?
It’s really sad that so little of this is covered in the media, so it’s hard to tell what stories of persecution you hear from the middle east are reliable. There are so many accounts of it though that even if you shouldn’t believe every one you read just because you read it, we need to be aware that it’s going on and make elected leaders hear our voices consistently about this. Those in our government who want to support the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt need to be reminded of the Christians who are being brutalized and killed by Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
More and more these days I find myself wondering and praying about Jesus’ words, “Love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you, and pray for those who despitefully use you. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the Gentiles do that?…” (Matthew 5…the quote is not exact. It’s from memory)
When people hate my guts, talk about me behind my back, or seem to be plotting my demise in secret, I pray for them. When I get angry I say to myself, “I don’t want their damnation, but their salvation,” and then I pray for help not to retaliate with my words or actions. But the truth is I don’t actively want to love those people. I don’t want to do them harm, but I don’t want to go out of my way to do kindness to them so they can hurt me some more. I was thinking about that last night and asking for forgiveness and help.
But that’s only words. How do you actively love people who are literally trying to kill you?
The more you love them, the more you make yourself available for them to kill you.
It’s one thing not to be afraid of suffering. That’s why the devout Muslims are able to wield so much influence in their societies, even though you have to believe that most people in the Middle East would rather have freedom of speech, freedom to drink alcohol, freedom to not have their women entirely covered up. I know Christianity is not a fun religion in the eyes of most people who live in Christian countries, but Christianity has almost never resulted in a true theocracy. There have been nations that were officially Christian, but Christianity has never preached that the entire world should be conquered with the sword and have Christianity imposed on each nation by force.
Yet Islam keeps exercising influence. Why? Because its true believers aren’t afraid to die–and they direct that fearlessness to die toward inflicting pain and death on those who oppose the advance of Islamic rule. They do this in Muslim societies not only by preaching but through violence. And they do the same in non-Muslim countries.
People are impressed by the fearlessness they display, and they are also terrified–because most people don’t want to suffer or die. Pious Muslims are willing to suffer and die.
But when they do that, they inflict injury on the enemies of their god.
But Christians are supposed to not be afraid to suffer and die in the cause of loving those who kill their children.
I believe that Christ teaches His church to love their enemies through suffering. But I have to say that I do not want to be zealous and active in the love of those who hate me.
It’s not just the pain. The worst thing is the injustice. Someone hates you and tries to harm you. The worst thing is you cry out about it–to them, maybe to others–and they refuse to hear you. They have already cast you out as evil and condemned you. That to me is the hard part.
But if my little child was shot coming out of Sunday School, it would break me to love the people who did it. Yet that is what we are called to–to be active and zealous in the love of our enemies.
Thanks be to God that our salvation is secure not in our love of our enemies, but in Christ’s zealous love of us while we were still His enemies. He not only was silenced and falsely condemned to death by men, but also bore the most awful pain of being condemned before the judgment of God for His enemies’ sins.
May God teach us to believe this and bear the fruit of this faith–faint reflections of Jesus’ love in our love toward those who hate us. That fruit is pleasing to God, and He will give us justice in the end. He has already justified us by grace, and He will not allow us to be destroyed by our suffering, nor to be snatched out of His hand.
And may God give us His Spirit so that we remember and pray for our brothers who are persecuted, and gladly give what we have for their relief.
- Egypt: 10-Year-Old Girl Leaving Sunday School Riddled With Bullets By Muslim Gunmen, Dozens Injured (talithaspraathuis.wordpress.com)
- Muslims Attack a Sunday School Full of Children: One 10-Year-old Girl Gunned Down, Dozens Injured (wwlee4411.com)
- Report: Morsi Supporters Gun Down 10 Year-Old Girl Outside Coptic Church (thegatewaypundit.com)
- Islamist gunmen kill church pastor’s niece, 10, in Egypt church attack (washingtontimes.com)
- Report: Al Qaeda Flag Hoisted Above Churches While ‘Anti-Christian Fury Has Taken On Genocidal Proportions’ In Egypt (midnightwatcher.wordpress.com)
- Egypt’s Coptic Pope ‘fears attacks’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Egypt Christians on the defensive as Islamists wage hate campaign in south (cbsnews.com)
- Egypt Christians scapegoated for Morsi’s downfall (foxnews.com)