“I never imagined God would make me a mother to a martyr.”
As Mama Maggie said these words, tears filled her eyes. She reflected on the time she spent talking, playing, and praying with the boys from El Our who were martyred on a Libyan beach in February. It has been eight years since the youngest, 21-year-old Samuel Estafanous Kamel, was regularly visited by the Stephen’s Children team, but we are still connected to his family.
“I feel honored my sons have raised my head up high,” said Samuel’s father, whose older son Bishoy was also martyred in Libya.
Over the 40 days since 20 Egyptian Christians (and one Ghanaian) were martyred, several friends of Stephen’s Children have inquired about our relationship to the men. Out of respect for the families and their great loss, we have refrained from formal comment until now.
Because they were from Upper Egypt, where we serve extensively, Stephen’s Children has connections to all of the Egyptian martyrs and their families. We grieve with them, and we praise God for the gift of their martyrdom. Five martyrs were directly part of our ministry, Bishoy Estafanous Kamel, Samuel Estafanous Kamel, Girgis Milad Saniot, Mina Fayez Aziz, and Abanoub Ayad Atteya, They served, worshiped, laughed, and played with us. They are our brothers and our sons. By God’s grace, they are now experiencing our greatest desire for every one of the over 32,000 children we serve – fullness of joy in the presence of Almighty God.
The Kamel brothers both bore the name “Estafanous” in honor of Saint Estafanous – or St. Stephen, in English. Through our pain and tears, we could not be prouder of these men and their brothers who lived up to their namesake as true “Stephen’s Children” – and they are now in the glorious presence of Jesus Christ.