March 21st is Mother’s Day in Egypt. It’s a big day everywhere in Egypt, marked by fun family gatherings at mum or grandma’s house, gifts, flowers, and songs celebrating mothers on national television. But what is Mother’s Day really all about?
Curious about March 21st and where it originated, I dug a little into the history of Mother’s Day in Egypt. I found out that the idea of Mother’s Day was first introduced by journalist Mustafa Amin in 1943. It was overlooked at the time and ridiculed by President Gamal Abdel Nasser but then eventually accepted.
The first Mother’s Day was celebrated on March 21st, 1956. It also marks the first day of spring. Egypt took the lead, with other Arab countries later adopting the same date.
The Bible is filled with great examples of mothers. To stay close to the Egyptian context, I’d like to look at an example highlighted in the sermon at my church last week. The speaker reminded us of Jochebed, the mother of Moses. Jochebed refused to give in to Pharoah’s evil scheme of killing infants. She had the Godly wisdom and creativity to make a basket, coat it with tar to make it waterproof, and set it in the Nile River. Any mother can feel the very tough emotions that Jochebed must have experienced as she placed her son in the river. Yet, Jochebed had an inspiring faith in God that overcame the harsh reality she was experiencing. She was certain that the God who gave her her little one, would certainly care for him. And we see the amazing story of God’s faithfulness unfold in the life of Moses and his role in saving God’s people and making history! It’s amazing how a simple step of faith from a mum can make history!
A modern example of a mum who made history is Howida Refaat Azer, the mother of Mariam, a 12-year old girl who was fatally gunned down by terrorists in front of her church on 21 October, 2013. Interviewed on television a little over a month following her daughter’s brutal death, this mum stunned the world! She did not seek vengeance, as the thousands of others who lost loved ones over the past three tumultuous years in Egypt, have. She asked forgiveness for the killers! She said she is praying that the Lord would bring them to repentance before they die, asking that their eyes would be opened to the Truth!
The TV presenter, Wael El Ebrashy was stunned! “You are an amazing example to the Egyptian people of expressing forgiveness to those who know nothing about forgiveness. Most people whose kids are killed say they won’t feel better till vengeance is taken, till they kill them with their own hands… but you have utter forgiveness!”
El Ebrashy concludes, “There is no better example of an Egyptian mum who has this amazing sense of forgiveness even for those who killed her daughter. I think this message could kill the terrorists out of rage… their hearts have been darkened, yet this mum has completely forgiven them, asking God to light up their hearts and forgive them. Even though Mariam’s mum came here on a wheelchair because of the bullets that hit her body, yet she comes with all this forgiveness and a desire to pray for the killers and terrorists so that they would repent!”
Mariam’s mum concludes with these poignant words, “If they used a machine gun or whatever it was to kill my daughter, I want to tell the Egyptian people that we have an even stronger weapon. Our weapon is to fast and pray that God would bring these terrorists to repentance.”
What an amazing witness for Christ to the millions who saw this episode! What a heroic mum! Mothers have a multitude of ways to make history through the immense responsibility and privilege granted us by God!
Happy Mother’s Day!