Nabil knelt in a fervent prayer for Egypt’s ailing economy at a prayer conference last weekend in Upper Egypt. He cried out for the Lord to intervene and change the current situation-for his nation and for himself. He asked the Lord to pour out His blessings like the rain so desperately needed in the Egyptian desert.
The young Christian had just lost his job and joined his two brothers in a desperate search for work, as all three of them are now scraping by on their mother’s scanty pension. Like many Upper Egyptian young men, Nabil had been working in a tourist resort in the Red Sea city of Hurghada.
Tourism used to be one of Egypt’s main national income generators, but the industry has been seriously damaged over the past three years due to political unrest. The February Islamist terror attack on a Korean tourist bus in Taba destroyed all hopes for tourism to recover in the near future. In the shrinking tourism industry, there are too many workers like Nabil and too few jobs. Christians as a minority have been most affected by the feeble economic situation. They are likely to be the first scapegoats when employers start downsizing.
Further compounding their economic difficulties, in the months after the military deposed the Muslim Brotherhood government last summer, believers were attacked and robbed of their possessions, houses, land and property in many villages across Upper Egypt. Justification for this was based on an extreme religious fatwa (decree) that allowed Muslims to take over the possessions and money of Christians. Hundreds of Christians were left with nothing, and their attackers told them to be grateful their lives had been spared!
Egypt’s general economy would have fallen entirely at the end of June 2013 without the Arab assistance loans and grants that prevented its total collapse. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait pledged an aid package totaling around US$17 billion to support Egypt. Changing the Prime Minister and a minimal cabinet reshuffle made little impact on the economic crisis, with widespread strikes paralyzing different governorates, as citizens demanded their late payments, minimum pay, and removal of corrupt management.
Unemployment rates reached soaring levels last year while prices continued to rise. The transportation sector further deteriorated due to strikes, and constant, violent protests by the Muslim Brotherhood have slowed the economy further. Meanwhile, the military industries that continue to control the economy are seen by some as rescuing the economy by providing quality services and products at low cost, but by others as destroying civil industries.
The upcoming presidential elections on May 26-27 are expected to redefine the nation’s economic and political direction. Although leftist opponent Hamdeen Sabahi has entered the presidential race, Egypt’s former military chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is the most likely candidate to win. Many are waiting to hear his proposed program to save the economy and how he expects to deal with the current crisis, along with ongoing issues of social justice and corruption.
Please pray with Nabil for rain, that God would shower His blessing on Egypt and on the lives of Nabil and other unemployed Christians who have been most vulnerable to layoffs in the fragile economic crisis.
Father, today we pray for the spiritual and economic drought in Egypt that You would pour down a torrent of blessing. We lift before Your throne Nabil who, along with his brothers and many other believers are searching for work. Work is difficult for many now in Egypt, but we pray especially for Christians who seem to be most expendable when downsizing is needed. Supply their needs; provide jobs; bring comfort and patience and peace as they face this economic crisis. We pray for the poor who are suffering and fighting for survival that they might see Your compassion and intervention in their lives. We pray for the vocational training that is helping poor Christians start up small business and become self-supporting. As the presidential elections draw near this month, we pray that those who achieve positions of power will use it not to lead the country into more unrest and destruction, but to bring stability and prosperity to Egypt. Thank You for the unity of the prayer conferences being sponsored by local churches and we pray that in the midst of prayer Your Spirit will rain down an outpouring of all the goodness You provide to encourage and empower Christians in the villages and rural areas of Upper Egypt to remain strong in faith and in hope. In the name of Jesus who pours out water of blessing on a thirsty land and His Spirit upon His people. Amen.