Let Your Light Shine, Egypt!

January 22, 2014 by Open Doors in Stories of Persecution

Egypt On fire. Bold. Young. These are words that describe the current church in Egypt. They are in love with Jesus, and desire to make His name known. With its strategic geographical location in the Middle East, Egyptian believers have the potential to be world changers in this unstable time. An Egyptian Christian and father shares about his experience in his local church, and how they specifically are changing Egypt with the gospel: On December 31st, my family and I walked down a busy street in our over-populated neighborhood to church. The atmosphere was festive as many clearly identified Christians made their own ways cheerfully to their churches. Everybody seemed happy and hopeful for a better year that was about to start shortly. Of all the church services of the year, this New Year’s Eve service is usually the year’s most attended service by Egypt’s large Christian community. Unusual security procedures had been taken by the police and army forces, however, to protect the gatherings of Christians during and after the New Year’s Eve services. This was prompted after rumors that radical Muslims were planning to attack churches and Christians that night, in revenge for supporting the army leadership in the ousting of former president Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood regime. Yet, the joy of the Lord and the cheerful atmosphere of the night did not manage to completely eliminate my human weakness and inner hidden concerns as a father and a husband. I wondered in my heart: “Is it really safe to take my family to church tonight? What if a bomb goes off outside our church? What if a crazy terrorist sneaks into our church?” The theme of the service that night was taken from Mathew 5:13-16. This passage was announced to be the motto for our church in 2014: “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world…Let your light shine!” Half an hour before midnight, Pastor Gamil* gave his last sermon of the year. Pastor Gamil explained how needed our live testimony is nowadays to reach out to our neighbors and colleagues who are increasingly wondering, “Who is the real God?” He also gave some simple applications on how everyone can live as salt and light in everyday life situations on an individual basis, and also as a congregation. Pastor then surprised all of us with an initiative. He said: “Last week, I visited our local police station to request a special permission for our church to go out to the main road, set up a small stage and perform a Christmas service.” “We will sing Christmas songs, including some Bible readings about the truth of Jesus, to proclaim the truth of God’s love openly in our neighborhood,” he added. My heart rejoiced with the fact that my local church is going to creatively reach out to our troubled community with the love of God, and that we will openly reveal our identity as a church that cares for the lost. I was then awakened from my deep thoughts by the pastor’s voice explaining a special symbolic activity that was to wrap up the special service. Small candles were handed out to everyone. The church’s lights were turned off, and the elders slowly lit the first candles, as we all shared our light with the remaining unlit candles. “Shine on me and my family, Jesus,” I prayed. It was a wonderful spirit of unity and love that gathered all of us together, seeking God’s face to lead us into the New Year, giving us the perseverance to live as faithful witnesses, even if we have to continue to suffer to keep our faith. *Name changed to protect his identity. God, we thank You for the boldness You have gifted this church with. We pray that they focus on You and Your purposes during this new year, and not what their flesh cries out to tell them. We know, Jesus, that whenever anyone steps out boldly for you, the Enemy attacks them even greater. We ask for You to protect and guide this church as they engage their community. We praise you for the work that has already been done here, but we know there are greater things to be done in Egypt. We pray all this in Jesus’ holy name, Amen.