by Rob Weingartner
One of the most compelling videos that I have seen in a long time was sent to friends by the Bible Society of Egypt not long after the tragic Palm Sunday bombings in Alexandria and Tanta, Egypt. Taken together, these two bombings took at least 45 lives and injured many more.
In an April 10 statement, ISIS identified the two bombers as Egyptians, using the pseudonyms Abu al-Bara al-Masri and Abu Ishaq al-Masri. The group threatened further violence, describing Christians as “crusaders” and “apostates” and declaring that “the bill between us and them is very large, and they will pay it with rivers of blood from their children, with God’s permission.”
In the video, which was broadcast on an Egyptian television station, a reporter interviews the widow of a guard who was killed at one of the churches. She said, “I am not angry at the man who did this. I am telling him may God forgive you. Believe me, I am not angry, and my husband is dead. I ask the Lord to forgive them and let them try to think. Think! Believe me that if they think they will know that we didn’t do anything wrong to them. May God forgive you; I forgive you. You put my husband in a place I could not dream of. Believe me, I am proud of him. I wish I could be there with him.”
When the field reporter finished interviewing the widow, the program returned to the news anchor in the studio, who was clearly moved. After a long pause, he said this: “Egyptian Christians are made of steel. Egyptian Christians for hundreds of years are bearing atrocities and disasters. The Egyptian Christian loves his country. The Egyptian Christian bears everything for the sake of his nation. And oh, how great is this amount of forgiveness you have. If your enemy knew how much forgiveness you have for them, he would not believe it. If it was my father, I could never say this! These people have so much forgiveness – this is their faith and religious conviction. These people are made from a different substance….”
Surely the widow’s faith is grounded in this truth – that the kingdom and the power and the glory are finally God’s alone. So confident is she in this that she can say with Paul, “For to me living is Christ and dying is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)
I often pray, “And forgive me my sins as I forgive those who sin against me.” Yet I stand in awe before this widow’s trusting faith. I sit at the feet of this sister in Christ who helps me know what it looks like to live for Jesus in a violent and broken world.