“I am a Christian.”

January 13, 2016 by Brett Tarbell in Africa

Christians are called to shine not only within their church walls and Christian fellowships, but also outside their Christian communities. They are called to proclaim God’s love for the desperate and hopeless where it is most needed. When Christians decide to leave the safety of their communities, they risk being attacked by local radical Muslims and arrested by secret security agents. The Muslim-majority consider Christian Egyptians to be a small minority of infidels who are expected to remain silent about their faith. To say “I am a Christian” is often a daring confession requiring a great deal of courage and commitment to Christ.

In Egypt and all Arab Muslim countries, public distribution of Bibles and Christian literature to Muslims is considered a crime. According to Egyptian law, a Christian can be instantly arrested and charged with insulting the state religion if they are caught distributing such materials. This charge might result in three-year imprisonment. Some Egyptian brothers and sisters have received similar sentences and are now serving time in various prisons throughout Egypt.

Despite these challenges, showing Christian love, genuine smiles and compassionate hearts is not yet prohibited by Egyptian law. The great news is that, in Egypt, you cannot be arrested for shining the light of Jesus in public. What a tremendous opportunity!

Recently, Christian presence was highly appreciated by a Muslim community when a group of believers in a southern Egyptian city brought banners of love to the main square of their hometown on the Ramadan feast day to congratulate their Muslim neighbors. The little sweets they handed out to the celebrating Muslims made an impact, but the impact of their heartfelt love was felt even stronger. The banners contained words written in bold, red ink: “I am a Christian and I love all Muslims.” Families, individuals and groups of celebrating Muslims observed the banners and made eye contact with the Christians in an attempt to discern what hidden motive was behind this act of friendship.

Many friendships were established between the Christians and the Muslims. Many friendly conversations were had.

In today’s world, when a language of hatred and revenge is promoted by all sorts of fanatic groups, movements and worldwide media, Christians remain the keepers of true hope for humanity. Christians must continue to share the love of Jesus outside of church walls.

The young Christians in southern Egypt went home that day with their rolled up banners and empty candy bags, yet their hearts were full of the unspeakable joy that came from shining the light of Jesus in the midst of their town. They brought with them memories of the grateful faces and expressions of gratitude that were showered on them by the Muslims they had encountered.

*Representative names and photo to protect persecuted Christians

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