Egypt and Tunisia have two things in common; a young, dissatisfied population and a dictatorship lasting for decades. But where Tunisia has a relative small population (10 million), Egypt has the largest Arabic population in the world, over 80 million. Also in Tunisia the Islamic fundamentalists are a minority; but in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood is by far the largest organized Islamic fundamental opposition. And, in regards to the Christian population, it is almost non-existent in Tunisia, but in Egypt there are around 10 million Christians, actually 2/3 of all Christians in the Arabic World, reaching from Mauritania in the far West up to Iraq in the East, reside in Egypt.
During the past three decades, the churches were allowed to exist in Egypt on a restricted basis. This included limited access to mass media, the gospel message could only be shared within church walls and obstructions in the construction of new churches or repairs to existing church buildings. However, the Christians were allowed to run their own activities and print and distribute Bibles and Christian literature within the walls of their buildings. The only community of Christians in Egypt who have been severely repressed in recent years are the Muslim background believers.
Since President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation international news and television have highlighted pro-democracy celebrations in Egypt. However, the resignation of President Mubarak has caused mixed feelings for Egyptian Christians. What concerns them is that strong moderate, modernist leaders have not yet emerged. If elections were held tomorrow the Islamic Brotherhood could easily win over 50% of the votes. Dr. Carl Moeller, President/CEO of Open Doors USA, noted, “The Pew Research Study conducted a survey that indicated 84 percent of Egyptian citizens said they would favor public execution of those who leave Islam for another religion (called ‘apostasy’), which is already in place in some Muslim countries. No doubt, if Islamic extremists play a significant – if not dominant – role in the government, there will be greater hardship for Christians.”
A church pastor named George, who partners with Open Doors in Egypt, said, “This is an extremely critical time. But we trust in God, and we hope and pray for a new Egypt with democracy and freedom for Christians.” Moeller says prayer is our No. 1 weapon during this transitional period. “We need to remember the church. We need to remember that the Christians in Egypt face the ‘frying pan and the fire.’ Their hope is in Jesus Christ and in His sovereignty, but the reality for our brothers and sisters in Egypt is that they face an increasingly uncertain future.”
Father, we acknowledge Your control, and we ask that You would bring favor to the Christians living in Egypt at this time. Keep them in perfect peace with steadfast minds as they trust in You in the days ahead. We pray for the future of the government and the new leadership to have wisdom to rule according to God’s will, and for political peace and calm in the country as a whole. Amen
Next week we will continue this series on the revolution in the Middle East and what it means for Christians.
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