Egyptian mother, Nahla Faheem, is inspiring Christian parents today as she looks back on her daughters’ short lives and the suicide bombing that stole them from her.
One year after the bombing of St Peter and Paul’s Coptic Church in Cairo that left 25 people dead, she spoke to presenter Magda Gad on SAT-7’s Speak Up programme.
A pendant containing the photographs of her daughters, Mareena (21) and Febrania (18), hung from Nahla’s neck as she recounted the events of that awful day, and her subsequent journey to peace.
Nahla had missed church through sickness that morning and was resting when she awoke to what sounded like an earthquake. She texted her daughters but they didn’t respond. Then, her husband called to tell her that an attacker had bombed their church. After visiting two hospitals that were mobbed with frantic family members of the missing, she identified the bodies of her daughters.
“Take refuge in the Lord”
Remembering Mareena and Febrania, Nahla says the girls were very close and went everywhere together. They were kindhearted and had integrity. Nahla and her husband raised the girls to ask themselves what Jesus would want before they thought, spoke or made any decision. Their absence has left Nahla heartbroken. Yet, through God’s grace, she has begun to smile and find some enjoyment in life again.
The love of her church family was key to this. “We saw love from everyone around us,” she told Speak Up. “In the church we always say we are all one company, one body. Truly, in the situation with my daughters, I felt that we are all one body. Truly we were all hurting.”
Because of her own terrible loss, Nahla also felt she could be of use when three further attacks on Christians stole more lives in Tanta, Alexandria and Minya in April and May this year.
“The first thing I thought when I heard about the attacks was thank God, I came together; I have to go to these people. I have to tell them, ‘No one feels what you feel but God will strengthen and support you. No one could have told me I would make it through another day, but see I have come to you and I’m telling you God will strengthen and help you’.”
“Of course, there’s pain and sadness and aching,” she wanted to tell them. “That won’t go away for the rest of my life. But God will strengthen you. Take refuge in the Lord.”
Change of focus
In common with parents everywhere, many viewers of Speak Up naturally fear for the safety of their children, even though they are young adults. Speak Up host Magda Gad explored how to best balance this with respect for their freedom in an interview with Dr Neveen Adel, a professor at the Christian Counseling Institute.
After this, lines were opened to callers to the show. Abu Fadi, an Egyptian father, called to ask Dr Adel a question: “As a father, I’m always afraid for my teenage son or daughter. Sometimes, they get into terrible situations. How can I get past this fear? Where is the peace? These are difficult circumstances.”
Adel empathised and suggested he change his focus: “Someone who sets a goal moves towards it; he isn’t running away from things that are behind him. First, have a beautiful relationship with God. Take your children to church. Spend time with them. Move towards something, don’t run from fear. Rejoice in God and what He’s given you. Have fun with the kids. Laugh with them,” Adel said.
As we enter another year of uncertainty in a changing world, your support for SAT-7 encourages Christians in the Middle East and North Africa God’s to trust God and know His peace in worrying times. Thank you for your part in giving hope to a region where people desperately need it.