SAT-7’s Arabic broadcasts have paid tribute to an Egyptian priest, stabbed to death on a Cairo street, and addressed the anger and anxiety of viewers with pastoral concern and biblical challenge.
The channel’s live worship programme Keep on Singing last week paid tribute to Fr Samaan Shahata Rizkallah, the Coptic Orthodox priest who was killed by an assailant after he had travelled to the city to collect aid for his parish.
The presenter of Keep on Singing sent condolences to Fr Samaan’s family and the week’s guest worship leader, Samuel Farouk, added his personal tribute.
“I knew him personally,” Farouk said. “He was filled with the Lord’s grace. He had the love and humility of Jesus Christ. I thank the Lord that He allowed me to meet with Fr Samaan and spend time with him where I saw in him the love and humility of our Lord Jesus in an amazing way.”
Farouk added: “Even though the Lord allowed this sad thing to happen, we believe that “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord” (Romans 14:8).
One of the first live programmes on SAT-7’s Arabic channel after the attack was the weekly service from the Freedom Meeting, a Brethren church in Cairo’s Heliopolis district. The preacher, Dr Farid Zaky, began by focusing on both the shock Egyptians were feeling and the questions some were asking about why God had allowed another brutal assault on the nation’s Christian community.
Pain and outrage
“The killing of the Coptic priest Father Samaan…has undoubtedly caused considerable pain and outrage to many,” Zaky said. “The Bible teaches us that believers have compassion… Undoubtedly, this situation is painful for the family members. We have a responsibility of lifting them in prayer.”
“Secondly”, he said, “Many are questioning how this could have happened. I answer them ‘Why not?’ What did Jesus say to His disciples about what would happen to them? And what will happen to Christ’s followers before the end of the Church’s time on earth? Did he say that they wouldn’t be persecuted or jailed by people of the world?”
Zaky said, no, “The natural thing for those who accept Christ as their saviour is to pay a high price for it.” He then read a selection of verses from chapters 15 and 16 of John’s Gospel, beginning with 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” “This is normal,” Zaky said. “Did Jesus experience less than this?”
After this sober reminder, Zaky quoted Romans 12:19 (“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath”) and urged viewers to do “what Jesus taught us” and “continue to pray even for those who hate us”.
“The darkest of places”
The Freedom Meeting preacher then led worshippers in a heartfelt prayer, for the Holy Spirit to enable Christians to live out their Lord’s teaching, for the grieving, for protection and for those who are so “blinded by the devil” they commit acts of hatred.
After this, in the prepared part of his sermon, Dr Zaky spoke of a God of grace who “saves the most sinful and reclaims them from the darkest of places”.