As pro and anti-Mubarak protesters clash in the streets of Egypt, the Christian minority continues to face mounting persecution, largely unbeknownst to the public eye.
Tom Doyle, Middle East director for E3 Partners, a Christian missionary organization that works extensively in Egypt and the surrounding region, and author of “Breakthrough: The Return of Hope to the Middle East,” tells FOX that colleagues on the ground report the murder of 15 more Christians outside Al-Minya, about 150 miles south of Cairo.
“With no police available, no one was willing to help them. Family members are taking turns keeping watch over their homes, as robberies, rape, looting, and car theft are occurring routinely now.”
Under Egypt’s constitutional rights, Christians are free to practice their faith. Persecution, however, has been rampant, as Muslim extremists seek to deny those rights. Twenty-three Christians were murdered and 70 injured as a suicide bomber attacked a Coptic Christian Church at a New Year’s Eve mass in Alexandria. Archbishop Raweis, the top Coptic cleric in Alexandria, denounced what he called a lack of protection.
"There were only three soldiers and an officer in front of the church," he said. "Why did they have so little security at such a sensitive time when there's so many threats coming from Al Qaeda?”
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was recently asked about the onslaught of Christian murders across the Middle East. Gibbs deflected to the State Department, and said, “I have not heard the – an overarching theory” behind the attacks, and “the president is aware.”
Christianity in Egypt dates back to the first century A.D. as Alexandria was an early center of Christianity, and until the Islamic conquest of Egypt in the seventh century, it was predominantly Christian. Today, the Christian minority only makes up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population.
“With the Muslim brotherhood rising up, Christians are very nervous about who might be next in line to take over for Mubarak,” explained Doyle. “Many times it’s been stated that there’s democracy but it’s just been a veil for authoritarianism.”
The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in the 1920s, demanded today for Mubarak to step down, as well as Jordan’s new Prime Minister. Among the brotherhood’s graduates, Al-Qaeda’s No. 2 - the Egyptian doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri -- who was imprisoned for three years on weapons charges following President Sadat's assassination in 1981, as well as Hamas, the terror network behind suicide bombings and rocket attacks in Israel, and the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine whose goal is the destruction of Israel.
Walid Phares tells FOX the group is “the mothership for the Jihadi ideologies and thinking, and therefore one can say today's Al-Qaeda and today's many other jihadists are offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Asked today about how the Obama administration would handle Egypt if the Muslim Brotherhood takes control, Gibbs said, “I think we’re getting way ahead of the process. I don’t want to get into hypotheticals about what-if.”
Whether it will be addressed by the White House or not, Egyptian Christians fear what will become of the already persecuted minority should Muslim extremists take control.
Middle East (MNN) ― While the world continues to focus on Egypt, protests are also hitting Jordan and Yemen. In Jordan, protesters are upset with unemployment and corruption. In response, reports say King Abdulla fired his Cabinet, ordering his new prime minister to pursue political reforms to "correct the mistakes of the past."In Yemen, protesters are upset with high unemployment and want the president to resign.
Tom Doyle with E3 Partners says this is a new wave of discontent across the Middle East. "I think we're just seeing a collective anger around the Middle East, primarily young people, but people our age too are just frustrated. They're oppressed, and they want freedom."
With 60 percent of the population of the Middle East under the age of 30, the lack of employment and education means hopelessness.
While Islam is the predominate religion, radical Muslims are outnumbered by secular Muslims. But Doyle says, "In times of desperation, people put back and retreat and get more established into their religion, so we have seen secular, moderate Muslims switch in just a minute when things were on the line."
The prayer for Christians globally is simple, says Doyle. "Pray that this massive [group of] people in the middle doesn't move to radicalism, because IF that happens, then the world will witness the creation of 'Iran South.'"
While some Christians are getting involved in the protests, the majority aren't. "Believers are laying low and using this as a time where they can bring salt and light and truth to people in their villages and cities, but they realize right now that they don't have a lot of protection."
Police and the military are being used to keep government institutions from being burned to the ground. There's not much protection for minority Christians who are already treated poorly. "I talked to one Christian leader in Egypt. He said, 'It's just like it's always been. It's just us and Jesus. He's our protector.'"
While Doyle is hopeful secular Muslims will fill the political vacuum in Egypt, he's still concerned about the Islamic Brotherhood winning. "If they do, they're the largest country in the Middle East and North Africa. [They have] nuclear weapons. This does not look good if it moves away from moderates."
E3 Partners support national pastors in these nations. Doyle is asking you to help support them, especially during these uncertain times when people are open to hearing about Jesus.
The last few weeks have been brutal for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. The persecution that we know of just in the last 2 weeks is:
• 70 believers in Iran were arrested on Christmas Day and are still currently in jail. This was undoubtedly a message for the believers on our most important day of the year.
• A church bombing in Alexandria, Egypt left 22 dead and around 80 wounded.
• Two shootings of Christians have occurred recently in Egypt. An off-duty police officer opened fire on two Christian families on a train in El Minya, killing one and wounding five. On Christmas Eve, seven were shot dead and nine wounded as they left an Orthodox mass service.
• At least 4 homes of Christians in Baghdad, Iraq were bombed, killing at least 2 and wounding 13.
• Believers are being threatened by Al Qaeda openly now.
• The Pakistani governor of the Punjab province was murdered because he spoke out against the "Blasphemy Laws" that are usually the legal precedence for killing Christians. He was made an example because of his defense of Aasia Bibi, a young Muslim who converted to Christianity and is in jail. 500 Islamic Clerics have applauded his death.
We believe that this will be an extremely difficult year for the body of Christ in the Middle East.
• For the believers experiencing persecution (Hebrews 11:35-40).
• For more intercessors and workers to labor on behalf of the gospel in this region (Hebrews 12:1).
• For our national workers (Hebrews 12:2).
• For our US staff as we gear up for our staff conference to map out ministry strategy and plan trips for this year & next (Hebrews 12:3)
Because of our greatest Intercessor, we can be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Heb 11:1) and look to our Father with these great prayers of faith as the source of all in this “kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Heb 12:28).
In a country in the Middle East, all house churches and some above ground churches have been closed by the government. Our leadership there says this is the most persecution that believers have had since the Ottoman Empire which ended abruptly in 1917. Believers in this country are under Satan's attack and it is stronger than ever. They have taken part in planting 90 churches in this country and they dream of reaching every village for Christ. Please pray for them!
The month of Ramadan begins today (August 11 – September 9 for the year 2010). Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and the most sacred month of the Islamic year. Muslims believe that the first verse of the Qur’an (Koran) was revealed to Muhammad during Ramadan in AD 610. Each year at this time Muslims fast during the daylight hours for the whole month. In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Qur’an.
30-Days International produces a “30-Days of Prayer for the Muslim World” Christian prayer guide coinciding with Ramadan each year. The booklet contains daily readings with prayer points, informative background articles, a list of titles for further study and a resource section featuring ministries and services focusing on the Muslim world. You can order the booklet, download a free PDF version or subscribe to 30-Days Prayer Network at the e3 MECA site.
Here is an additional challenge. When you consider that Muslims around the world are committed to fasting and reading through the entire Qur’an this month, how much time will you invest in prayer and reading your Bible?
USA (MNN) ― Ramadan: a perfect opportunity to share the Gospel [ full story ]
In October, a worker with e3 Partners, named Jamal, was attacked in his home by a radical Muslim. The attacker, named Abdul, had expressed interest in learning more about Jesus and so Jamal, being the evangelist that he is, offered to speak with him in his home about Christ. On Abdul’s second visit to Jamal’s home, he pulled out a concealed screwdriver when Jamal’s back was turned to him and he attempted to stab Jamal in the back with it. By God’s grace, Jamal leaned forward at just the right moment, which softened the blow but still left a three-inch gash in his back. Abdul then tackled Jamal to the ground and attempted to drive the screwdriver into Jamal’s heart, a clear indication that he intended to kill Jamal. When this proved unsuccessful, Abdul began beating Jamal in the face with a computer speaker, causing severe lacerations on Jamal’s face. Finally, Jamal gained control of the situation and was able to get a hold of the screwdriver. There was a split second where Jamal had the opportunity to kill Abdul, but he didn’t. He says that the Holy Spirit told him at that moment, “Do not hurt this man.” In obedience, Jamal threw down the screwdriver. He then pinned Abdul up against the wall and began calling for help.
His brother was the first to come to his aid. Having been a professional boxer, Jamal’s brother was ready to beat the pulp out of his brother’s attacker. What happened next, however, is truly miraculous! Jamal protected Abdul from the fury of his brother! He would not allow his brother to lay a finger on Abdul. In fact, he told his brother, “Do not hurt this man. I forgive him. I have nothing against him.” Then, once the situation had calmed down, Jamal asked one of his family members to get Abdul a glass of water! He then asked Abdul, “What made you do this to me?” Abdul’s response was stunning. He said just one word, “Satan.” Wow!
Soon after this, the police arrived and took both Jamal and Abdul to the police station to deal with the situation. Once the facts were clarified before the police, it was determined that Abdul would be put in prison and Jamal would be sent home. Jamal then asked the police, “May I speak with Abdul before he is taken to prison?” The police granted his request and brought the two of them together. What happened next is truly amazing! Jamal said to the man who had attempted to kill him, “When Jesus Christ was on the cross, he said about his accusers, ‘Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.’ In the same way, I love you. I forgive you with all my heart. I have nothing against you or your family.” Jamal then kissed him on each cheek (a sign of friendship in the Middle East) and he said, “I forgive you and I will pray for you.” What incredible forgiveness!!! Jamal then noticed that one of the police officers was crying as a result of his words. Even the police were impacted for Christ as a result of this situation!
Jamal and many others are praying that the grace and love shown to Abdul and witnessed by the police would be used by the Lord to bring all of them to faith in Christ! Please join us in praying for this! Jamal not only believes that Abdul will one day give his life to Christ but that they will also work together in ministry! Now that is forgiveness!!! Jamal’s reaction to Abdul’s attempt on his life is totally counter-cultural in the Middle East, a place where revenge runs deep. God is using this radical story to draw people to Himself! Hopefully, you have been encouraged by this story! Please pray for Jamal and Abdul! Jamal continues to minister with e3 Partners in the Middle East. There is still a scar on his face which reminds him daily of how God graciously spared his life!
On a recent e3 medical trip to the Middle East, the Lord moved in powerful ways! Many lives were transformed, including the life of an elderly man named John, who found true hope for the first time. Here is the story:
"While I was standing in the small kitchen of the medical clinic, someone went to look for an Arabic Bible for the eyeglasses reading test. I was holding an EvangeCube and John, a 75-year-old Arab man who was waiting to get fitted for eyeglasses, pointed to it and pointed back to himself. My translator said, "Please share with him." After sharing the EvangeCube with John, I asked him, "If you were to die today, would you go to heaven or hell?" John answered, "I don't know." I responded by asking him if he would like to know how he could be certain that he would go to heaven. He said, "Yes!" I then explained to him how he could have a relationship with Jesus Christ. He acknowledged that he understood everything I was telling him.
Holding John's hands and looking into his age-withered eyes, I prayed with him to receive Christ into his life! With a smile beaming from ear to ear and a twinkle in his eyes, John reached up and kissed my cheeks. As he headed to see the doctor, he was telling everyone with a big smile on his face, "I have Jesus in my heart!" John found the hope of Jesus and now he will spend eternity with us in heaven!"
Headquarters 2001 W Plano Parkway Suite 2600 • Plano, TX • 75075 • 214.440.1101 • 800.542.2646San Diego 16787 Bernardo Center Drive, Suite 7 • San Diego, CA • 92128 • 858.485.9904Birmingham 1400 Urban Center Drive, Suite 115 • Birmingham, AL • 35242 • 205.949.4464Nashville 317 Main Street, Suite 207 • Franklin, TN • 37064 • 888.354.9411