A married couple has been convicted and sentenced for their part in the bombing of three churches in Surabaya in May 2018. Agus Satrio Widodo received a sentence of eight years, and his wife Damayanti received 40 months after a court found them guilty of “aiding criminal acts of terrorism,” as well as criminal conspiracy.
The couple were sentenced in connection with a series of suicide bomb attacks on 13 May 2018. Six members of the same family targeted three churches in the port city of Surabaya during their early morning services. Two brothers, ages 16 and 18, rode motorcycles up to the first church to detonate their bombs. Five minutes later, their father exploded a car bomb on the grounds of the second church. Their mother blew herself up, along with her young daughters, at a third church. At least 14 people died in the attacks.
The family who carried out the attack had recently returned to Indonesia from Syria. Agus Satrio Widodo was the suspected leader of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, a militant group associated with ISIS terrorists. In total, more than 300 kilograms of explosives were discovered in the aftermath of the attack. Widodo and his wife were found to be hiding some of the explosives.
Sources: Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Barnabas Fund, Benar News
- Pray for the repentance and salvation of this couple; may they come to understand the forgiveness, hope and peace that can only be attained through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
- Pray that Indonesian authorities will remain vigilant in preventing such attacks from occurring in the future.
- Pray for the church members who have had to cope with loss and injury. Pray their faith will be strengthened.
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Abd Elmalak and Om Wael lost their 19-year-old son Bishoy on Palm Sunday while he attended the church service at Alexandria. Bishoy worked as a plumber to help support his parents. His father Abd Elmalak who is 55 years of age, had fallen from a three-story building injuring both of his legs. As a consequence, Abd Elmalak has been unable to work.
To restore the use of his legs, Abd Elmalak requires surgery and he was desperately trying to raise enough money for the operation. Now however, they have not only lost their son, but all means of financial support has also been taken from them.
Although Abd Elmalak and Om Wael are believers and even though they love the Lord, tragic circumstances have unfolded and impacted their lives. The devastating loss of their son has caused them to hold fast to the Lord and continue to faithfully follow Him. Their character and destiny is not dependent on their circumstances.
But you came
Our contact met Bishoy’s mother and was astonished as she said something very strange to him: “I knew that you were coming today!” He asked her “How did you know I was coming today?” She replied, “This morning I was praying and I was telling the Lord we do not have any money for our daily needs. Our only son who was helping us financially was martyred. But in my heart, I felt that someone was coming to help us today!”
“This day her prayer was answered” said our contact.
VOM Australia was able to give a financial gift through our contact, which will help Abd Elmalak have his operation as well as provide six months’ supply for their daily needs. Om Wael said, “Your visit and love gift came at the precise time for our family as we really have been suffering. I was confident that God was going to visit us today and He did it through you to fulfil our great needs.”
God hears the cries of his beloved and He does answer prayer. Om Wael and her husband experienced God’s great love at a time of great hardship and the loss of their son Bishoy. Please continue to pray that God will supply this family’s needs.
May we always be ready when God calls us, to serve and bring assistance to a fellow brother or sister, not only in a restricted nation but even to those in our own nation.
On Palm Sunday, Nesim Fahim was a guard at the main gate of the church building at Tanta when a terrorist detonated the bomb. Nesim, was 57 years old when he was instantly killed and listed among those martyred that day.
He left behind his wife Samira and their two sons Mena 29, and George aged 27. Nesim was employed as a church guard and Samira was so proud of him, however learning that a terrorist bomb had been detonated close to him resulting in his death, left Samira heartbroken.
One week after the bombing, Samira was interviewed at her house by a TV Satellite channel and the program presenter asked her, “What would you say to those who killed
Television viewers sat poised, waiting for Samira’s reply. Most people expected Samira to speak of revenge, but her answer shocked the audience. Samira said, “I would ask for forgiveness for the person who killed my husband, as I know that my husband has graduated to heaven with the Lord. But the killer is waiting a terrible end for his life so I forgive him if this will help him!”
Millions of Muslims as well as Christians were watching the broadcast and were amazed by her answer. One local television presenter, angered by the bombings, referred to the interview and commented on Samira’s answer. He was even shouting and directed his question to the Christians who were watching him.
“If someone killed my father or my brother, I will surely kill him to get my revenge, so how come you are able to forgive those who are killing you?”
Forgiveness softens hearts
Many people watching the program would naturally share the same sentiments as the television presenter, but Samira is able to forgive because of her deep love for Christ. Samira’s incredibly powerful testimony has opened a way for many to become curious and desire to learn more about Christianity and the Lord Jesus.
Out of this tragic event, came the amazing testimony of a woman able to forgive. Our national contact who met Samira said, “I was very proud to meet her and hear her story. I was touched by her loving heart.”
But you came
Nesim was the breadwinner in the family but since his death, Samira faces a future of uncertainty and great financial difficulty. VOM Australia however, has provided her with six months’ support to help meet her daily needs.
Samira told our contact: “Did you know that when the attack happened I had many visitors coming to take pictures and put them on the social media. But not many thought of helping any of the families of the martyrs. Then we had no more visits and things went quiet and I was praying to the Lord that he may send an angel to help support us and encourage us. I was so excited when I heard that you were coming like an angel from God and also to provide us the hand of God’s support. I have never told anyone, even my own sons, that at this time I am in great need. I continue to pray to the Lord and He comforted my heart to say that He will find a way. Today He has provided His way by sending you to help me in my time of need.”
Please pray for Samira and her family as she continues to trust God for His faithful provision.
Egyptian police have arrested four people in the wake of the bombing that killed dozens of Christians at Cairo’s Coptic Christian cathedral last month, the Interior Ministry said.
The death toll from the bombing at a chapel next to St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo has risen to 28, the Health Ministry added.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said following the attack that the perpetrator was a man named Mahmoud Shafik, who had worn a suicide vest, and that security forces were seeking two more people in conjunction with the attack.
The Interior Ministry said it had arrested one of the two, as well as three others who were part of the same cell. It added that one man was still on the run.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing but the Egyptian Government has sought to link the attack to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood has condemned the attack and accused Sisi’s administration of failing to protect the church, Reuters reported.
President Sisi, who attended funerals at the cathedral for the victims, attended Christmas Eve Mass in the Coptic Cathedral for the third year. In 2016, he promised to rebuild all churches destroyed or damaged in the violence of August 2013. He also pledged 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($7200) towards construction of what will become the largest church (built at the same time as the largest new mosque) in a new political and administrative area planned for the edge of Cairo. He said the church is due to be inaugurated in 2018.
Source: World Watch Monitor
- Commit to the Lord those who continue to grieve over the loss of loved ones. Pray too for those who sustained serious injury.
- Thank the Lord for the government support of the Christian community. Pray the Lord will grant them His strength and protection.
- Pray for those who oppose the Lord and His church in Egypt and ask Him to frustrate their plans and remove the hatred from their hearts.
On 11 December, an explosion in the main hall of St Mark’s Cathedral, the largest Coptic church in Cairo, killed at least 25 and wounded more than 50. The blast took place during Sunday morning mass in the chapel adjoining the main hall of the cathedral. Many among the injured and dead are Christian women and children.
“The church bombing was planned and carried out meticulously. The explosion took place in the pews of the women,” said Mena Adel, a church member. “I think that someone seized the opportunity of overcrowding Copts who were entering the church and was able to enter the church among them and put the bomb under the church pews and then went out.”
According to reports, the blast was caused by a device containing at least 12kg of TNT. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Islamic State militants celebrated the bombing on social media outlets after the fact.
The attack, which was the worst attack on Egypt’s Christian community in years, has sparked outrage and anger within the Christian community. Many gathered immediately following the attack to express their demands for justice.
State officials are launching immediate investigations into the attack while President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has declared a three-day period of national mourning.
Source: International Christian Concern
- Ask the Lord to minister to the grieving. May those who have lost loved ones find comfort in the fact that Christ is victorious over death (1 Corinthians 15:50-58).
- Ask the Lord to heal the injured by His miraculous hand and the skills and experience of those who are caring for them.
- Pray for the investigations; may the perpetrators be brought to justice and to repentance. Ask the Lord to protect and strengthen His church in Egypt.