Michael Ragheb knew the danger of attending Christian church services in the predominantly Muslim area of Tanta, Egypt. There were constant threats of being killed by gunfire, the church set on fire, or a bomb being set off during worship services. Despite those concerns, Michael, his wife Sara, and their three year old daughter got up early on Palm Sunday and headed to church. He sensed that this might be the day that disaster would strike, insisting his wife and daughter sit in the back of the church while he went to the front to lead music. Sara, in her own words, tells of what happened next.
“It was about ten minutes past nine. All of a sudden, I heard the sound of a big explosion; the church shook like there was an earthquake. The smoke filled the church, and it became dark. I heard people screaming. I was screaming, too. I was screaming the name of my husband and rushed to the place of the deacon choir, where I hoped to find him alive.”
“What I saw on my way to him was horrible, like a massacre had just taken place. The bodies of dead church members and pools of blood. Then I saw my husband. I was in shock. He was just lying there, like the others. Gone to heaven like he had sensed would happen.”
Michael Ragheb, along with 48 other church members, were killed by an ISIS placed bomb on Sunday April 9, 2017.
Christians in Egypt and other Middle East countries live in daily fear of being killed for their faith. In spite of the warnings and danger of assembling together in worship, or laws forbidding worship services, they do so choosing to “obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). These faithful Christians clearly understand the value and admonition of Hebrews 10:24-25. “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
These verses clearly point out our need for one another. We come together to express our love for God and one another. We come together to encourage each other, and as verse 25 says, “so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Christians desperately need each other. We gather together for instruction, for fellowship, for encouragement, and to strengthen one another. As we draw closer to “the day” of Christ’s return, we need each other more than ever.
Inflation continues to spiral, violent crimes are at an all time high, and ungodly, evil leaders are seemingly more successful than ever. Don’t ever take church for granted. Prior to Russia’s invasion of their country, Ukrainians were free to go to the church of their choice on the first day of each week. It’s sad to think that they may lose that freedom in the near future. We need to pray for Ukraine and these recent horrific events should cause us to value our church like never before. The future of our own country is more uncertain than most of us have seen in our lifetime, and as a result we desperately need one another. We need to gather together to worship, to pray, and to encourage one another. Please remember that God called us to be contributors, not consumers. We aren’t here as spectators; we are here to give, to go, and to engage!