Since the Muslim Brotherhood took power in Egypt, Christians have been the targets of violence. Once the Islamist government was sacked, Christians hoped the situation would change, but, according to Mission Network News, it hasn't.
Thousands of supporters of former president Mohammed Morsi took to the streets over the weekend in Alexandria, Suez and other cities, calling for Morsi to be reinstated and urging military leader General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi to step aside. According to an I.N. Network worker, "David," the protests have put his family at risk: "Every Friday there [is] a big group of the Muslim Brotherhood; they try to come back, and they fight with the army and police. ... They are still creating troubles and problems. The last two months they've gotten very crazy. They want to destroy the country. They attack many churches. More than 80 churches have been burned. Many Christians have been killed."
But while the violence has been difficult, David says there is good news: "Churches are united together. And the spirit of prayer is happening in all the churches. People are praying all the time." The response to the violence against burned churches has also been remarkable. Christians posted signs on their burned-out churches that read: "You burned our church, but we love you."
"So it's a great message of forgiveness," David says. "This makes many Muslims discover the reality of Christianity, and many of them come to know Jesus. ... Until now, they find difficulty for security reason to join local churches, so they meet underground in a secret way. They worship the Lord together, and they're growing." As Muslims come to Christ, they're uniquely qualified to share the Gospel. "The easiest way to reach Muslims is through converted Muslims," says David.
While David isn't praying for more persecution, he's excited about God working. "It's always like this," he says. "When there is pressure over the churches, the Holy Spirit is working and many people are coming to know Jesus as Savior."
ReligionToday.com has reported on the continuing violence against Christians in Egypt, which has reached a level unseen for centuries. Most recently, four Christians were killed in an attack on a wedding in Giza. Christians in Egypt are calling for increased security for churches, but according to Todd Daniels of International Christian Concern, increased security "cannot be the only step taken if there is to be an actual decrease in the violence." The international community also has a role to play in assisting Egypt in finding strategies that work to counter terrorism, Daniels says.
In a column for ReligionToday.com, Jerry Dykstra of Open Doors USA writes: "The time to stand side by side with our brothers and sisters in Christ is now! We can not and must not be silent. The extinction of Christians in the Middle East must not happen on our watch." The No. 1 request of persecuted Christians is to pray for and with them, Dykstra says. The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, which will take place this Sunday, Nov. 3, presents an excellent opportunity to join millions in lifting up brave followers of Jesus around the world.
"Please tell Christians around the world how thankful we are for standing by our side when we are going through such hard times in Egypt," writes "Mina," an Egyptian priest. "We're so grateful not only for the financial and practical support we receive as we face our crisis, but also for the prayers and spiritual support we feel."
Anna Kuta is the editor of ReligionToday.com.