In the novel City of Peace, a Methodist pastor named Harley Camden loses his wife and daughter in a terrorist attack, one carried out by Islamic extremists. He spirals down in grief and anger until his bishop sends him to a new community. There, he meets two neighbors named Youssef and Sofia. They are Coptic Christians, immigrants from Egypt, and they invite Harley to dinner.
As they are eating, Harley thanks them and says, “Think of how much better the world would be if people actually sat down and ate with each other.”
“No doubt about it,” agrees Youssef. “Back in Egypt, Christians and Muslims are getting together less and less, which has caused the animosity and violence to increase. Did you hear about the attack last December in Cairo?”
“No, I missed that,” admits Harley.
“A suicide bomber attacked St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral. More than two dozen worshipers were killed, including a 10–year–old girl.”
“It was horrible,” Sofia says, shaking her head. “The worst attack on Copts in years. The Islamic State claimed responsibility.”
“How did the Copts respond?” asks Harley.
“With increased security, of course,” says Youssef. “But also with prayer — prayers for the victims, and for their attackers.”
Harley is impressed that the Coptic community could respond with prayer for such evil–doers. Thinking back, he realizes that he has not said a single prayer for the terrorists who killed his wife and daughter. And yet, he knows that Jesus commanded his followers to pray for the people who persecuted them.