21 people were killed and 79 injured when a suicide-bomber detonated explosives in the middle of a large crowd gathering for worship on January 1 at a church in Alexandria, Egypt. Below is an excerpt of a report from the Rev. Drew W. Schmotzer who serves in the Diocese of Egypt.
Report from Egypt:
After enjoying an organ concert at All Saints Cathedral on New Yearâ€™s Eve, and then welcoming the new year with prayer and a service with Bishop Mouneer Anis, we heard the unfortunate news.
We had bombings in the Coptic Orthodox Church last night in Alexandria. 21 killed and dozens were injured. Please pray as we donâ€™t know why, and there are many rumors, even suggesting this is the first step in the retaliation promised by the bombers of Baghdad about a month or so ago (Al Qaeda).
Please pray for the persecuted church around the world, remembering also Jos, Nigeria who had bombings on the 24th of December. Please also pray for the many difficulties in Iraq at the moment after recent bombings, and those of the 31st of October.
There is an Egyptian proverb, that only when the date tree is bearing fruit do the people throw stones to get the fruit to fall. In other words, only when the Kingdom of God is advancing does the Devil attack and throw stones. Please pray, God must be moving in peopleâ€™s hearts and minds for the devil to make these attacks and to increase the frequency of attacks.
In all things, we continue to praise the Lord for his faithfulness and his love. I am fine, but we mourn the loss of Coptic brothers and sisters.
The funeral was this evening. I watched part of it on television as I couldnâ€™t travel to Alexandria. I did go to see Pope Shenouda III today and give him the words of condolences of Bishop Mouneer and of the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is now at St. Bishoy Monastery in Wadi Natroun mourning with the monks and bishops there.
While this is a terrible attack, we remember that Alexandria was once baptized in the blood of the martyrsâ€”and it continues to be today. We remember that Jesus will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail. We also have a lot to be thankful for, that even in this persecution, and the persecution of taking away religious freedoms here in the Middle East, we are alive, and not facing death every day. Thousands have died in Nigeria. Thousands have died in Rwanda. Thousands have died in China. We pay the price so that others donâ€™t have toâ€”especially others in the Western countries. It is becoming more and more evident that the matters of the West are not as important as the matters of life and death hereâ€”our faith once received from Jesus Christ through the Apostles.
St. Mark brought Christianity to Egypt and it has been here for 2,000 years. Christ will prevail. While it is not my turn this time, it may be next time. Am I prepared? Are you?