By Phoebe Farag Mikhail
I recently traveled overseas with my family. Due to traffic we arrived late to check-in, and so our family of five was seated in two different sections of the plane. I was frantically trying to find the anti-nausea medication for my son and the chewing gum for my daughter in our carry-on luggage. When everything was found, the airline stewardess guided me to my seat and said, “Relax now. You’ve done it all. You are finally on the plane. It’s time to rest.”
She could see it in my eyes – the sleepless nights packing, making sure everyone’s medicine was packed, every bag was the correct weight, the rushing through the airport with three children in tow – she saw it and reminded me that we finished that all, and now it was time to rest. We were on our way.
Yesterday, Fr. Samaan Shehata, a Coptic Orthodox priest from Beni Suef, Egypt, was in Cairo collecting charitable donations for the poor people in his community. Beni Suef is a city that is about a one hour and a half drive south of Cairo. I have family there. It is not far from where a bus carrying Coptic pilgrims to the Monastery of St. Samuel as brutally attacked and 28 people martyred for their faith.
While Fr. Samaan was working to take care of his congregation, which he regards as own children, he was brutally murdered in broad daylight in one of the biggest cities in the world. His murder is only one of a string of attacks on Coptic Orthodox Christians in Egypt and Libya. Every attack stings. This one stings even more for me, as the daughter and wife of Coptic clergy. Fr. Samaan could have been my own husband or my own father.
The only way I have been able to blot the images of this blessed soul bleeding on the streets of Cairo is to remember where he is now. He lived and died a selfless life, serving God and his congregation. In the video of his murder he is seen running frantically away from the knife-wielding murderer. Now he is no longer running. Now he can relax. He is on his way, not on a plane, but in Paradise. “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9, NKJV).
I can’t imagine a more fitting honor to the memory of Fr. Samaan than to consider the poor around us, no matter where we are, and provide them financial support. Those who are Copts should find out how their churches are collecting for the impoverished people in Egypt. There are also numerous charities in the U.S. providing support and development to the poor in Egypt. There are organizations working with the poor globally. There are also people we can support in our own country, in our own home towns. Anyone who represents these organizations is invited to share information and links in the comments.
There is no need to be overwhelmed with the problems of the world. Just choose one, and give what you can.
Let us gladden the heart of Fr. Samaan and continue the work he was doing. It’s time for his rest. Let us work as selflessly as he has until it is time for ours.
Many thanks to Creative Orthodox for allowing me to share his drawing of Fr. Samaan in this post.
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