3 Lessons from the Persecuted Church in Egypt
3 Christians Tell Their Stories
You may have heard that persecution in Egypt is on the rise. 4 major incidents landed in the news when extremists carried out attacks on 3 churches and a bus of Christians, killing over a hundred believers. But media coverage of these tragedies often focuses on the basics–the who, what, where, when, and why–without taking the time to tell the stories of how these events impact other Christians in Egypt.
A 7 Year Old Boy Talks to God
Daniel, like many 7 year olds, used to be an extravert. He was known as the leader in his group of friends.
But since the attacks on Christians have been publicized, things have gone downhill. “Daniel was always the leader in the group of kids,” his mother tells us. “But recently Daniel has been really scared because of all the stories he hears. Now he doesn’t even dare to walk to the kitchen to get a glass of water on his own anymore. He always wants to be close to us.”
Daniel’s mother and father do their best to help Daniel see God in the big picture. “The most important thing I try to teach my children is that Jesus is their best friend; that he is always close by. I tell them that I can be one meter away from them, but that God’s inside them. Always. And with Him, they don’t need to be afraid.” Daniel’s mother recounts.
The family also reads the Children’s Bible together daily and talks about the meaning of the stories. While Daniel can’t always make the connection between the stories and his own circumstances, he has learned to draw near to God when he is afraid. “Yesterday I heard my son talking,” His mother says, “But when I looked at him to show him I was listening he told me, ‘No mum, I am not talking to you, I am talking to Jesus!’”
A 23 Year Old Business Student Clutches Her Crosses
For Mina, a 23 year old business student, attending church is a risky affair. “There has been more to be afraid of recently. Bombs have been exploding in churches across Egypt. Maybe tomorrow a bomb will explode in our church, you never know.”
Mina says that she sometimes forgets that God is near in the middle of these tragedies, but is often reminded of his presence by a cross her parents allowed her to get tattooed on the inside of her wrist when she was still young. “It’s a tradition to do this in Egypt,” She explains, “Many of my friends also have a tattooed cross on their wrist or their hand.” Sometimes, Mina also wears a cross around her neck.
Although Mina is sometimes struck with fear, she believes the persecution has strengthened her faith. “As human I can be afraid, but I know that God can protect me if it is His will. The recent bombings have been good for me. It taught me to live closer to God; be more serious about my faith. My prayers go much deeper, they really come from my heart.”
The tragedies, she insist, will not prevent her from going to church…even if she knows the building may one day be attacked by extremists. She says simply, “It would be an honor to die for Christ.”
A 29 Year Old Tourism Agent
Maraya*, is a 29 year old business person who works in the tourism industry. While she was willing to share her story, Maraya requested that her real name and photo not be published. “The darkness in our country is growing and I have had my share of persecution,” she explains.
She tells the story of a man who regularly stops to harass her family as they work in her father’s store. “He comes into the shop to curse Christianity and the cross and to tell me he will throw acid in my face. Once he beat up my dad.”
Although Maraya’s family reported the incident to police, there was no official response. “In our culture, if a Muslim fights against a Christian, the Muslims always side with his Muslim brother,” Maraya explains, “It’s their religious duty.”
Instead of getting better, then, the persecution grew worse for Maraya’s family. His attacker threatened to kill Maraya’s father if he reopened his shop. “For 20 days it was closed and we sat at home, praying and crying. Every day we had people from the church coming to pray with us.” She reports.
These incidents filled Maraya with fear, at first. But as she prayed, day after day, she says she slowly began to feel an unimaginable peace. “[The peace] was bigger than I could understand, I hadn’t felt it before and I didn’t understand. But I felt peaceful, and not afraid anymore. My father taught me how to forgive our persecutor and how to look at him through the eyes of God. We pray for him all the time. Our fight isn’t over yet, but we know God is with us.”
Daniel, Mina, and Maraya are just 3 of the individuals impacted as extremists continue to target Christian in Egypt. If you’d like to receive update from persecuted believers in Egypt and around the world, you can receive our monthly newsletter by clicking here.