Monday, January 16, 2012

Egypt's Persecuted Minority

Today on Mission Monday, I wanted to highlight a group of people that trace back to the originial apostles, but are in jeopardy today of seeing their life in their homeland disappear.

Egyptian Coptic Christian
Egypt has a population of over 60 million people, the majority being Muslims. However, at least 10% of the population are Coptic Christians. Copts, as they are known, trace their faith to the generation of people who walked with Jesus. Their church split with the main Roman Catholic Church in the 5th century, but they were the main religion in Egypt until the Muslim advances in the 600's. Even living under Muslim rule, this body of believers have persevered for almost two thousand years.

Life has gotten worse for the Copts in the last several years. There have been several attacks on Christians by the Muslim majority. There is freedom of religion in the constitution, but there are many limitations in real llife. It is hard to convert and difficult to get paperwork for jobs and other things. Until recently all approvals for new church construction and even minor repairs had to be approved by the President! This has been changed, but it is still a very cumbersome process. When Christians were attacked, the police are slow to respond, and they are usually asked to simply "reconcile" with their attackers, without any other accountability.

Under the dictator Hosni Mubarak there was a measure of control, despite the attacks I mentioned. Now there is fear that things could get worse if strict Islamists are voted into office. There is an exodus of Copts now, depleting the oldest continual Christian community in the Middle East.

We don't hear a lot about their plight in the West, and the needs of fellow believers far away can be hard to remember in our busy world. That's why I want to share stories like this on Mission Mondays here. We are so blessed in the Western world. We should be able to support our brothers and sisters in Egypt in our prayers.

Thankfully, there are some positive signs as well. We know the Lord can move in mighty ways to protect His people. Here are some specific prayer requests (taken from the YWAM Personal Prayer Diary):

  • Pray that Christians will have a voice in the formation of the new Egyptian government.
  • Pray that the governments of other nations will press those in power to grant equal rights for all in Egypt.
  • Pray that Coptic priests and lay leaders would have courage and wisdom to encourage and guide their parishioners.
  • Pray that Muslims will come to know Christ through the example and love of their Christian neighbors.
Sources: YWAM Personal Prayer Diary, Wikipedia, WSJ, BBC

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