A Single Father’s Joy
Magid walks towards us with a big smile when we meet him near his house. “Follow me,” he says, gesturing towards the stairway of his apartment building. It’s seven flights up, but the climb is rewarded with the bright eyes of his daughter Maryam (9) who greets us with a shy ‘hello’. It is so good to see that Magid looks better than the last time we visited him three years ago.
Magid is a single father of two children. In 2017, Egypt was rocked by tragic Easter bombings. An Islamic fundamentalist suicide bomber detonated a bomb near the gate of St. Mark’s church in Alexandria, a town of significant Christian population. Magid lost his beloved wife of ten years and mother to their two children in the attack.
“The grief never goes away. During the past three years, the feeling of loss has remained.” Magid shares his life journey as we sit down and ask how he and the family are doing.
Magid holds a photo of his wife, killed in a bombing three years ao.
The picture of Magid’s deceased wife, Hannan fills a big part of the living room wall. On the other side there’s a picture of Magid’s nephew. Magid and his extended family had been selling Easter palm branches in front of the church gate when a suicide terrorist blew himself up. His wife, as well as his brother, his nephew and several other relatives were killed in the blast.
Looking fondly at his daughter, Magid tells us that He became much closer to his children over the last three years: “I try to be like a friend to my children and a mother and father in one. I play with them and we pray together. I try to give them as much love as possible. They should always feel loved.”
Her father is doing a good job, says Maryam. “He works, but he is also around a lot for us. He is very kind, forgiving and peaceful. He has a lot of love inside, and he teaches me how to love others too. I want to be like him when I grow up.” She says excitedly.
Magid smiles hearing his daughter speak. “It’s not easy to take care of two children on my own, but God gives me peace,” he says. “I struggle most when I see how much the children miss their mother, miss her tenderness. Then it helps to visit the monastery where she is buried. We go there twice a month. Being there helps us to feel peaceful, close to God.”
Maryam nods. “I miss my mother a lot,” she says, “but I know she is with Jesus.” She stretches out her arms: “My love for God is so big, bigger than the whole world.”
Magid takes us outside. Not long after the last time we visited Magid, he opened a little supermarket just down the road. To be able to take care of his children, he had to quit his job as a barista, as it included a lot of late-night shifts. The business is only a few steps away from their house. He is very proud of his son, Youssef, who is 14 now. We find him managing the cash desk in his father’s absence. Magid shows us some of the products in the aisles, “Look, I labelled all the goods with prices, so that the customers don’t argue about the price with him.”
Seeing Magid interact with his two children, it’s obvious he loves them to bits. The pain of the loss of the wife and mother of this family won’t go away, but they have got back on their feet, and live in the peace-giving presence of the Lord. They are not afraid. Not even to sell Easter palm branches at the church again. “Even if a terrorist targets the church again,” says Magid, “it would be an honour to die for Jesus.”
Magid requests prayers for his two children, Youssef and Maryam, that they will remember their mother’s faith. She was always reading the Bible with them and taught them how to pray. May they grow strong in the knowledge of God’s word.
He seeks prayers that he will be able to raise his children with God’s help. He is thankful and says they don’t feel alone anymore. “God sends His people to help us and to pray for us. That is comforting to me.”