In spite of several good reports coming out of Egypt about the state of Christians there, in reality our brothers and sisters in that country are still having a rough time.
Sadly, it is not just the violent attacks that they have to face, but just as much it is the seeming hopelessness that no one really cares, and that no one is actually doing anything to respond to these attacks. The oft asked question that is voiced so much is “ When will Christians in Egypt be equally protected under the law?”
Since AD 42, when Mark founded a church in Alexandria, there has always been a Christian presence in Egypt. Even during the Arab conquest around AD 640, and then through to the present day, that presence has been maintained. The size of that Christian population has ebbed and flowed along with the level of persecution each era suffered.
Today there are some 16 million Christians out of a population of 101 million people, about 16.5%, with some 10% being Copts. These have been specially targetted by militant Islamist groups as well as fellow Egyptians in the last few decades. Sectarianism is still rife throughout Egypt, spreading from the Syrian war zone, with ISIS claiming responsibility for several church bombings and unprovoked attacks.
All too often the perpetrators of these crimes, both Militants and ordinary Egyptians get away totally free, with the police taking little interest. Their view seems to be that Christians are heretics committing blasphemy against Islam.
Fortunately for the Egyptian Christians, they appear to have a defender in their president, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who has called on his fellow Muslims to treat the Christians peacefully. An attitude that could put him on an ISIS hit list. Another thing he has done is to speed up the registration process for registering new churches which is painfully slow.
Not only do Egyptian Christians suffer physical violence, but they are often the victims of social exclusion and face constant discrimination in areas such as justice, education and basic social services. In rural areas, Christian women have been targeted for abduction and forced marriage. Believers from Muslim backgrounds face pressure from their families and communities – they may be beaten or expelled from their homes.
In spite of this terrible persecution, Christians in Egypt have shown incredible grace and forgiveness. This refusal to retaliate even got them nominated for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize.
• Give thanks for the faithfulness of our Christian brothers and sisters in Egypt as they continue to meet and worship, even in their ruined churches.
• Pray for their continuing faith, strength and determination to praise and glorify God in these present difficult times.
• Pray for all Christians who have lost family and friends, homes and livelihoods in anti Christian violence, asking God to comfort them in their sorrow and trauma.
• Pray for the restoration of true justice for all in Egypt, and the end of unjust scapegoating of Christians.
• Pray for the outlawing of the abduction and forced marriage of Christian Women to Muslims.
• Pray for the help in combating the ravages of Covid Virus to be shared evenly and openly among all.
• Give thanks for President El-Sisi and his good intentions towards Christians.
• Pray for his safety and that he will be able to implement these reforms.
• Pray for those who carry out these attacks, that they will repent of what they do, and that they will come to know Jesus for themselves.