SANTA ANA, Calif. (July 5, 2012) – The following blogs are from a co-worker in Egypt about the chaotic, changing situation in Egypt over the past few weeks:
Since the young people of Egypt lit the fire of revolution on Jan. 25, 2011, Egypt has drastically changed in many ways no one could have imagined. Even though the church has been praying for so many years that the Lord would allow striking changes to stop the corruption, dictatorship and misuse of power, I have to admit as a Christian Egyptian that what has happened in Egypt over the last 17 months has exceeded all my expectations and even imagination.
A new page has been turned in the long history book of Egypt. The chapter of the last almost 60 years of Egypt being ruled by military-background presidents and regimes is finally over, and we just started a new one.
Our new civilian president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, took his oath of office last Saturday.
Looking back over the last 17 months, I recall so many thoughts and mixed feelings. So many days seemed much longer than just 24 hours, and many nights seemed like ages.
Living in Egypt these days is like riding a roller coaster. It takes you up gently and slowly in a nice, refreshing, relaxed short ride. That is when you start to feel that hope could still be possible for us to get from a certain man or a new system. Suddenly at a point you don’t expect, at the turn, it speeds up, taking you to the very bottom while some are laughing and many others are screaming loudly in panic.
For many people, such a ride is fun in the beginning, but suffering comes soon after. All day long we are stormed with news of developments, sudden changes, disappointments, rumors, incidents and news of attacks and clashes here or there that are happening around us every single day.
All our expectations and hopes for a new, open country where Christians may gain their long-lost rights are now a goal so far away to reach. The arising Islamic influence in Egypt has significantly increased with the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties jumping into power, leaving small space for civilian and liberal parties. Working hard, mostly underground for almost 80 years, the Muslim Brotherhood movement won the top post in the country in June.
Many people living in Egypt these days are feeling so hopeless, helpless and worried about the future. This includes millions of nominal Christians, and believe it or not, many Muslims as well, who wish to live under a civilian government, not a fundamentalist Islamic-ruled country.
As for me and my family, along with so many committed Christians in Egypt, we have a special joy and peace that only our Father can give. It’s the same joy and peace Daniel had in the lions’ den; that three young men had in the middle of the fiery furnace; and that the disciples had, seeing the shining face of Jesus approaching the boat in the middle of the dark night and the stormy waves.
The question we Christians of Egypt ask ourselves today is a simple one. Is it not better, safer and more comfortable, according to reason and legitimate life needs, to stay outside the lions’ den? Is it not cooler to stay outside the fiery furnace, rather than suffering the burning flames? And is it not more comfortable and assuring to stay dry by the side of the lake around the campfire, enjoying the evening breezes, rather than fighting high waves and struggling desperately to stay alive?
Over the last few months, many Christians have already run away from the den, the furnace and jumped out of the boat.
This is of course heart-breaking news for us. Last month I waved good bye to my lifetime friend and ministry partner, who left to the United States together with his family. It’s really painful.
However, to see the shining and comforting face of Jesus in the middle of trouble, hardship and instability is a unique blessing from above. To hold to the many promises in the Word of God and putting them to action is a heavenly assurance that no man, no system, no wealth and no power can give. Reading the wonderful words of Psalm 91, along with so many other promises, brings true joy and peace to our hearts, because we know that our Father is in control.
This is the reason why my family and I, along with many Christians scattered all over Egypt, in villages, towns and cities, are staying here on the front lines, committed to reflect the shining love of Jesus to our fellow Egyptians, no matter who they are.
World Media Ignoring Harassment of Christians
According to the world media, nothing major has happened in Egypt since last Saturday when Morsi became officially the first Islamist president in Egypt’s history.
That is of course, if you don’t count the increasing daily harassments by Salafists against Christians as major. And if you also don’t pay much attention to overwhelming Islamic propaganda spilling out from loudspeakers of thousands of mosques, blaring away in the faces of Christian men and women, boys and girls, day and night.
The content of such propaganda is simple, but quite intimidating to the hearts and minds of our Christian brothers and sisters, especially those living in small remote villages and towns. The arrogant message is aimed to brain wash, threaten and even encourage Christians to leave their homes and churches and go anywhere else.
Nothing really major has happened?
In some area in Upper Egypt, some committed Salafist Muslim neighbors openly approached their Christian neighbors and asked them to leave if they wanted to be safe. Nadia, a Christian girl who is a ministry worker, reported that last week she had to wait on the road under the burning sun for two hours until finally a driver of one of the service vans was willing to stop for her and give her a ride. The fact that Nadia is unveiled clearly shows her Christian identity.
I wonder, would someone reporting for the Western media consider this as something major?
In one of our villages in Upper Egypt, the Islamists declared their candidate, Dr. Morsi, to be the new president, even though the official election results had not been announced. In celebrating this victory, after the noon prayers, the village Muslims surrounded the local Coptic Orthodox church during their worship service. They demanded that the priest should kick out a group of Coptic Christians who had come from outside the village to visit. As frequently happens, the Christian visitors had come in buses to visit the small, old church for a blessing on their way to a nearby monastery.
Gathered in hundreds around the church, the fanatic Muslims threatened to burn down the church if the priest did not comply with their orders.
The priest could do nothing but give in to their threats and ask the visitors to leave. When he called the police station asking for help, he was advised to do as he was told and stop receiving visitors, in order to “solve the problem.”
As the visitors mounted their buses to head back home, the Muslim villagers hurled stones at them and their buses as they drove away.
Once the visitors left, a group of Salafists and radical Islamists went back to the church and reiterated their threats more clearly to the church priest. Demanding that he abide by their new rules, they vowed that otherwise, they would destroy the church. “You should never again open your church to outside visitors!” they warned
But, not a major thing! After all, how many times have we had similar attacks in the past?
Will the day really come when Christians in the new Egypt will be looked at, considered and treated respectfully as equal citizens? Will we have the freedom to live and worship Christ under the new leadership of Morsi and his regime?
That is a major question!