What Does ‘Save the Copts’ Mean?

 

What will remain of our Coptic culture and community in Egypt in 100 years?

Can our brothers and sisters in Christ there possibly thrive if we don’t stand with them?

After the bombing of St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church, one of my colleagues told us — voice shaking with emotion — how a young woman he knows was killed that day.

She was a doctor. She was holding down a shift at the hospital for her Muslim colleagues, so they could celebrate their holiday with their families.

She went on break to pray at the church near the hospital, and never went home to her own family for Christmas.

As Copts, we know that atrocities like the one at St. Peter and St. Paul’s never take our brothers and sisters. On the contrary, we gain a martyr who is with us forever in the Body of Christ.

But what has Egypt lost? Another committed healer who was there for her fellow Egyptians and their families.

And our Coptic community has lost. Too often, these murders take our most wonderful, talented, loving members, leaving our brothers and sisters struggling to fill the gap.

Attacks like the one on St. Peter and St. Paul’s are therefore a way for the terrorists to send a chilling message: “There is no place for you Copts in Egypt.” They target not just innocent people, but our shared Coptic identity.

So if we care, the question we face is simple: “How can we, the Coptic Diaspora, use our success and God’s gifts to strengthen the Coptic identity and community in Egypt?”

Everywhere in Egypt, there is more that we in the diaspora can do. There are proud, capable people whose hands are extended — not for alms, but to join hands in solidarity, as One Body in Christ.

Furthermore, our responsibility doesn’t end with alleviating immediate suffering. We must take responsibility for how far the Copts have been marginalized and thus hatred was free to spread.

We must support groups that promote the Coptic identity and follow God’s command to serve all. We’re proud to be Copts and, as Martin Luther King said, “We will wear them down with our love.”

The best rebuke to Daesh is to show that, more than just paying lip service to the lives of Copts, we’re not going to stand by while children die of the effects of discrimination, of hate.

There are many organizations, many projects, through which to heal and protect the families of our Coptic brothers and sisters. To save the Copts.

So this Christmas, the next simple question is: What are you going to do?

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.