As Egypt’s Christians mourned a deadly gun attack on Coptic Christian pilgrims, SAT-7’s Arabic channels led believers in prayer and offered counselling through its live Speak Up programme.
One of the viewers who called in to the Speak Up broadcast was affected directly: “The events caused pain for all of us and those who saw the pictures and saw the amount of blood spilt,” said Minya resident Youssef Aziz.
“I have a relative who died in this incident. His wife is in pain, she is deeply hurt. The people who are affected by the incident are in great pain. We need to give them an opportunity to express their pain and allow them to cry.”
At least seven people were killed on 2 November when gunmen targeted buses carrying Christian pilgrims returning from Saint Samuel Monastery in Minya governorate. One of the buses was carrying 28 members of a family that had travelled to the monastery for the baptism of one of its children, six of whom were among 19 injured. The attack was the second to target the same route.
Comfort for the grieving
Friday’s Speak Up episode featured counsellor Dr Neveen Adel, who sought to explain the emotions that survivors of terrorist violence are likely to experience, and advised friends and family on how best to support them. The victims must be allowed to express their anger and not deny their feelings of loss, but those supporting them should control their curiosity, she advised. “Ask them what they want, if they want to be alone or if they want someone to be with them.”
The show also heard from Coptic priest Fr Bishoy Helmi and from Dr Sameh Maurice, Senior Pastor of Cairo’s Kasr El Dobara Evangelical Church, which has a national ministry.
Earlier in the week, other live programmes, including SAT-7 KIDS shows Family of Jesus and Chato led viewers in prayer for the families of those killed. Victims of the bus shooting included a 12-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy. On Family of Jesus, children as young as eight called in to pray for their families and the other children injured in the
“Lord, I thank you. I ask you to be with the injured children. Stay with them and keep them safe. Amen,” said Jolie, the first viewer to call in.
“Jesus, protect us and the families of the martyrs,” prayed eight-year-old Michael from Giza.
Looking for answers
At 35 per cent, Minya governorate has Egypt’s highest proportion of Christians, but this has not guaranteed their safety. In two years, at least 35 Coptic Christians have perished in terrorist attacks, with groups allied to so-called Islamic State seemingly able to attack from remote desert locations.
One of the callers to Speak Up voiced some of the bewilderment and frustration felt by many. “A lot of people accuse God for the bad things happening in life… What’s the cause of this?” asked Abou Fady from Cairo.
George Makeen, SAT-7’s Programming Director for Arabic Channels, explained why SAT-7 wants to give space for people to voice their confusion as well as to give them leadership and comfort: “Our priority at SAT-7 is to give our Egyptian brothers and sisters a safe space to express their feelings and grief – their pain, fear, and doubts – as we continue to pray for their morale. We pray that they will be strengthened and know God’s comfort during this painful time.”
SAT-7 also transmitted the annual Days of Harvest Christian festival from Maghagha in the north of Minya governorate. The programme included prayers for those affected by the shooting.
Dr Sameh Maurice was the main speaker and shared a powerful message of forgiveness:
“We ask for a spirit of love in the hearts of your people and your Church towards those who hate them … We ask for a spirit of forgiveness that will be a testament to your presence for ever. In the middle of great persecution, your Church is lifted up to proclaim its faith, love and fellowship with you.”
YOUNG CALLER PRAYS FOR INJURED CHILDREN
Watch clip from Family of Jesus: