“It’s not me, but Him in me”
On December 11, 2016 a suicide bomber linked to an Islamic extremist organization entered Saint Peter and Saint Paul’s church in Cairo and killed 29 people. Marian’s father had run after him, trying to stop him from detonating his bomb-vest. There was a huge explosion which could be heard from all the houses near the church.
Marian heard the explosion from her home and rushed to the church. She found a scene of carnage. She also found her father; he was barely breathing: “I put his head on my lap… and he asked me to take care of my younger brother and sister. Then he closed his eyes and smiled peacefully, his face shining. Then he went to heaven.”
The attack happened just days before Marian’s 15th birthday. She suffered the unthinkable loss of her dad at such a young age. As Marian’s father breathed his last breath, he gave his daughter the church keys. Now, close to two years later, Marian still misses her dad. Proudly, she has taken over the job of her dad. Courageously she’s still following Jesus, clinging onto Him through pain, trauma and loss. Incredibly she says: “God takes, but He gives back more. God is love, God is kind, God is merciful. I have experienced this in my most difficult hour”.
During our visit, Marian shows us the remains of the attack in the church. People have told her where her father stood when the attacker came in to the women’s section of the church; how he ran after him to stop him. She can recreate the situation effortlessly: “Look here, you see the dents of the blasts on the pillars, the walls. The church didn’t repair them on purpose, so we remember how the women died for their faith that day and how my father, as only male victim, did.”
Anger, sadness, disbelief. A lot of emotions kept Marian’s mind busy the days after the attack. “My father was a great man, a loving father, I missed him so, so much. I asked God why?” Marian shows us a necklace with her father’s picture. Although she still misses his physical presence, now, many months after the attack, she doesn’t feel like he has left her. “I believe he is encouraging me from heaven to live close to God,” she says. “I feel like he’s telling me that I’m not alone, that Jesus is with me.”
Marian’s family, her mother Nadia, and the younger children Justina and Fady – are doing well. They are strengthened by visits from fellow Christians, and are more involved in church than before the attack. Marian’s mother attends almost every service in church now. Since the death of her father, Marian and the rest of the family have been feeling exceptionally close to God. They describe life now as living in His grace.
“People have often asked me where my happiness comes from in these dark times,” Marian says. “How do I do it? But then I say: ‘I don’t do anything, it’s not me, it’s Him in me.’”
Marian’s story is featured in our Guts and Courage youth booklet. Dive in deeper, and get closer to the heart of the persecuted church. http://www.opendoorsca.org/youth/