Alexandria and the Strength to Forgive

“I hope they burn in Hell!” The words came so naturally to Demiana’s school friends. They saw her constant pain when they came to see her in the hospital.

The Alexandria bombing on January 1, 2011 shattered Demiana’s leg and blew out her hearing.

I met Demiana several months later. Her mother was there, too. Unlike Demiana’s school friends, neither Demiana or her mother were bitter at all.

“Thank God, thank God.” Her mother said. Demiana told me that when her friends got bitter, she said simply: “No, we should pray for them.”

In his sermon on “loving your enemies,” written while he was in jail, Martin Luther King, Jr said that “Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act.” Forgiveness assumes that someone has inflicted a very bad wrong in the first place. That’s why it takes strength to forgive.

For Demiana, that strength was a powerful witness for her non-Christian friends.

But it’s not just Demiana and her mother who have this amazing strength in Egypt. I meet widows and their children in villages everywhere who have it.

One of the best ways to get the strength to love is to get close to those who have it. I count myself blessed to be part of Coptic Orphans because of that chance: not only as the executive director, but as a sponsor.

Hopefully, more of that strength will rub off on all of us. Then no matter what 2012 brings, we can be like Demiana and wish Hell on no one, but pray for all.
One Body with You in Christ,

Nermien Riad

Founder and Executive Director

About Nermien Riad

Nermien Riad founded Coptic Orphans in 1988 after volunteering for an orphanage in Cairo. When she saw that most of the children had living widowed mothers who simply couldn’t afford to feed them, she gathered family and friends to sponsor children in Egypt. Today Coptic Orphans works through a network of 400+ church-based volunteers in Egypt, who visit fatherless families in their homes and make sure they get everything they need to unlock their full potential. That way, they don’t have to get married off as child brides, work as 10-year old family breadwinners, or go to live at an institutional orphanage.