When over a hundred Christian families hastily fled killings and death threats in North Sinai, SAT-7 producer Andrew Gamal decided to devote the week’s live worship show to pray for them.
The special edition of Keep on Singing (28 February) came after four days in which hundreds of Christians abandoned the town of El-Arish following a killing spree by so-called Islamic State (IS). Others have since continued to leave for Ismailiya on the Suez Canal and for other cities.
SAT-7’s Bridges presenter speaks to Christians fleeing terror in Sinai
The special episode was dedicated to prayer for the El-Arish Christians and to reassure Egypt’s shaken Christian community after an alarming increase in attacks.
“We chose this topic because of the recent persecution incidents and the people’s frustration. People are saddened by the injustice done to the Christian families in Arish,” Gamal said.
“We felt that we needed to send out a message to the people that we aren’t just singing songs of praise to the Lord but we are also a heavenly church awaiting heaven. We aren’t escaping reality but we have faith that the Church belongs to heaven. Christians have faith and hope in the hand of God to lift us up in the middle of dire circumstances; in Him we are protected.”
The episode included a beautiful worship video, “Heavenly Church”, that Gamal had filmed recently. “Heavenly Church” was a response to the deadly 11 December bombing of St Peter and St Paul’s (“Botroseya”) Church in Cairo.
The song had special poignancy because on 19 February IS released a video of the “Botroseya” bomber in which they announced the bombing would be followed by many more.
Gamal said he felt that viewers needed to hear again the message of the song “Heavenly Church”. Inspired by Romans 8, it declares that nothing can separate us from God’s love or stop us passing on His love and forgiveness.
During the special episode of Keep on Singing, worship leaders and viewers who called in to the show prayed for the Christian families who had been driven from their homes.
In spite of the terror inflicted on El-Arish Christians, the programme also prayed for members of Islamic State.
Marian, a member of the Good News team who were the guest worship leaders for this episode, prayed:
“Lord, when You were on the cross You forgave those who slapped, hurt and stabbed You with the spear. Lord, we forgive those who trespass against us because it’s what You taught us. Lord, we ask You to give us seeds of forgiveness in our hearts.
“We pray for those blinded by evil. We pray that Your love binds them in Jesus’ name. I ask for Your love to overwhelm them and show them that You gave yourself on the cross for their sake. You want them, You love them. We pray for Your love to surround them. Come to them in visions and dreams. Call on them, each by their name because You shed Your blood for them on the cross.
“We have faith that You can do that because You are good. In Jesus’ name, I pray.”
God’s will shall prevail
A viewer named Kamel was one of those who called in to the show to pray. His words combined a deep sense of God’s compassion with the confidence that God is in control and will not let His people be overcome by this suffering:
“Lord, it’s painful for someone to have to flee their country and leave their home. It is painful to be insulted and have a family member killed. It’s painful to go to a strange place not knowing how one will make a living or when they’ll return home. It’s painful that a close relative could go to pray in church to die and we never get to see them again.
“But You God see everything. You are a powerful God. You are alive and in control. You will not be defeated. You know what You will do and even if You allow evil to roar like a lion, Your will shall prevail.
“Lord, we pray for our sisters and brothers who lost their families in the Botroseya church attack. We pray for the families in Arish. We pray that Your word be in their hearts: ‘In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world’. Nothing can separate us from Your love, Lord, despite the tribulation, distress and persecution. We pray for strength from You to make us a heavenly church in Jesus name.”