In the Oriental Orthodox Church, Christians celebrate the birth of Christ on the 7th of January, and usually mark the occasion with a celebratory midnight Liturgy on the 6th of January. Unfortunately on the 6th of January 2010, midnight Christmas Litrugy, in Naga Hammadi, had nothing celebratory about it.
In what is now known as “the Naga Hammadi massacre”, a ruthless massacre of Coptic Christians was carried out on the eve of 7 January 2010, in the Egyptian city of Naga Hammadi. The massacre occurred at the hands of fanatic Muslim gunmen in front of the Naga Hammadi cathedral, as Coptic Christians were leaving the church after celebrating the midnight Christmas mass according to the Coptic calendar. The massacre resulted in the murder of eight Copts and one Muslim bystander.
Bishop Bemen Bishop of Nagada recalls this story: Amongst those injured in the Naga Hammadi massacre, was a 17 year old boy who was wounded by a bullet that penetrated his chest and was a few millimetres from his heart. It was such a critical operation to remove the bullet that the doctors refused to operate.
Finally, a non-Christian doctor agreed to do the Operaton and by his testimony he said: “I was not the one operating; definitely there was someone else with me, given how critical the operation was. God saved that boy.”
Bishop Bemen later went to visit him in hospital and he found the boy crying and saying: “why me?” The Bishop thought he was upset at what happened to him with the injury. The boy told him: “I am upset because I wanted to go with my friend Abanoub who died, became a martyr, and went to heaven. Why did God leave me? I wanted to go.”
While externally things look like they are only getting worse for Christians in Egypt and the Middle East, stories like this are a clear testament of how God puts His hope and faith in the lives of these confessors to reveal the reality of heaven that is ready for everyone that confesses the name of Christ.