Samiha from Egypt: A story of radical forgiveness

When a bomb exploded right next to Samiha at St. Peter’s Church in Cairo on December 11, 2016, everyone thought she was dead. But Samiha miraculously survived—and now testifies of Jesus’ presence throughout her recovery.

Samiha Tawfiq Awad and her husband Qalini prepared to go to church one Sunday morning in December 2016. Qalini said he was tired, but Samiha encouraged him not to miss church.

Once at St. Peter’s, the two parted ways. Qalini went to sit in the men’s section, and Samiha took her seat in the women’s section—an early church tradition still practiced by the Coptic Church today.

But just before 10 a.m., a terrorist entered the church and ran to the women’s section, detonating a bomb with 26 pounds of TNT. In an instant, the peaceful worship gathering transformed into chaos. The explosion reverberated through the church and left smoke, darkness and screams—as survivors searched for their loved ones.

Qalini gathered himself and ran to the women’s section and started calling for Samiha. He couldn’t find her. The explosion damaged the bodies and faces of the women and made it difficult to distinguish one person from the other.

Only hours later, Qalini found his beloved wife in the hospital—so injured that she was hardly recognizable.

“She won’t survive,” the doctors told him.

Qalini was devastated—how can he ever continue his life without his sweet wife?

God Had Another Plan

Almost a year later, we visit Qalini and Samiha in their small apartment not far from Cairo’s city center.

Today tells a very different story. Qalini is smiling from ear to ear. His wife Samiha is sitting next to him, alive and well.

He points up, “The doctors might’ve given up on Samiha, but God had another plan!”

Samiha’s face bears the marks of the deadly attack. She lost half of her face, and on one side she can’t hear, smell or see. But the other side of her face glows when she smiles.

“They put me on the list of dead victims of the attack already,” she said. “The doctors thought it was useless to treat me, so they just came to check on me now and then to see if I was already dead. But I stayed alive.”

No one can explain how Samiha survived, but she did.

Because she stayed alive, the doctors started surgery. It was a long way, but Jesus was present with her all the time.

“I don’t remember much of the explosion and the first days after it,” she said, “But I remember that I saw Jesus on the ceiling when I was lying on the ground after the explosion.”

Jesus kept appearing to her—even in the hospital, she says.

 “I would have been willing to die for Jesus,” Samiha says, “but the fact that He kept me alive so miraculously tells me that He wants me to live.”

‘My faith tells me to forgive.’

Qalini says it hasn’t been easy for him to forgive the attacker who brought his family so much pain. “But my faith tells me to forgive. So every time I feel angry, I sit down with my Bible and browse to the Sermon on the Mount. There, Jesus says we should forgive our enemies. It helps me to read that part over and over again.”

Samiha herself doesn’t feel anger.

“If I would meet the family of the attacker, the only thing I would ask them is: ‘Do you know Jesus?’ I pray they will find the right way.”

Christians like Qalini and Samiha know that they could face more violence for their faith. Persecution will continue to be a reality for them. As members of the Body of Christ, we are called to stand with our persecuted family worldwide. Today, remember to pray with the more than 215 million believers who pay a high price for their belief and trust in Jesus.