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Egyptian crisis helps believers build bonds
Don Graham, Baptist Press
February 11, 2011

Egyptian crisis helps believers build bonds

Egyptian crisis helps believers build bonds
Don Graham, Baptist Press
February 11, 2011

CAIRO — Two weeks ago, Mina

Peter* didn’t know a soul in his Cairo apartment building. Like many young

Egyptians, the 22-year-old computer science major was simply too busy to make

the effort. And as the only Christian in the building, Peter wasn’t sure his

Muslim neighbors cared to know him.

But that was before a massive revolt calling for the ouster of Egyptian President

Hosni Mubarak plunged the city into chaos. Demonstrations turned violent;

police threw tear gas while protestors traded rocks and Molotov cocktails.

Businesses were looted and vandalized. Tanks rolled down Cairo’s streets.

Instead of turning on each other, the violence brought many Egyptian

communities together. Neighbors improvised checkpoints at their apartment

buildings to ensure safety. And in the process, Peter says, they inadvertently

began to get to know one another.

“(I) have been building relationships with people who have been living in the

same building with me for years and I haven’t known them,” he says. “Now I get

to know them all, I get to speak to them, we drink tea with each other … (and

discuss) what’s happening in the country.

“I believe that God has been opening doors for us in this time of trouble that

we can have bridges with people — that we can build more relationships that can

open doors and we can deliver the message of Jesus.”

BP photo

Egyptian believers worship at Kasr El-Dobara Evangelical Church near Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The square has been the epicenter of more than two weeks of sometimes violent protests calling for the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who stepped down today (Feb. 11). Kasr El-Dobara is among the largest evangelical Christian churches in the Arab world.

Peter adds that the crisis also is creating opportunities for sowing the gospel.

On Sunday, Feb. 6, a large evangelical church near Cairo’s Tahrir Square — the

epicenter of the protests — held an open-air worship service before thousands

of protestors, many of them Muslim.

“(The church) had a lot of demonstrators in Tahrir Square supporting them. (There

were) a lot of people shouting, even if they didn’t know the words for the

songs … but they were joining them,” Peter says. “All the Muslims around them

were listening … they’re seeing that Christians are loving the country, that

they don’t have any (intentions) except love and mercy for the Egyptian people.”

Samir Abdou* is the pastor of the evangelical church in Cairo that Peter

attends. Abdou is working to help his congregation navigate the crisis in light

of their faith. Though no one in the church was physically harmed during the

violence, a shop owned by two church members was looted and burned. Abdou doesn’t

think it’s a coincidence that the theme he chose for the church in 2011 is “affliction

and growth.”

“Maybe this is what the church needed … to regain our vision and stop being

silent,” he says. “If we want (Egyptians) to know the Lord we need to be close

to them…. We are happy with the closeness (the crisis has brought) and we are

seeking that the Lord might use it to serve and help our Muslim brothers.”

Abdou believes prayer is critically important during this potential period of

transition in Egypt’s history. His church is holding daily prayer meetings, and

he covets the prayers of Christians around the world — but not only on behalf

of Egyptian believers.

“Pray for all Egyptians because at the moment we are all in the same boat and

that’s a positive thing,” he says. “Pray that the change will bring more

freedom for (Christians) to share our faith and to be able to build churches,

and for those who come from other backgrounds to be able to become Christians

and to declare their faith without fear.”

But freedom isn’t the only thing Egypt’s Christians are yearning for. Peter

wants something bigger.

“We have been praying for years for revival in Egypt,” he said. “We have been

praying for the church, especially for the young people to have a real

revival…. I believe that God is using (the crisis) for everybody to speak and

maybe, weeks later or months later, these relationships will be used for them

to see how Christians live and how they love God and how they love

nonbelievers. … That’s what I hope I see God doing.”

Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman announced today (Feb. 11) that Mubarak had stepped down and given control to the Higher Council of the Armed Forces. Mubarak had been president for 33 years. His resignation came after 18 days of protests.

Prayer requests:

  • Pray that the gospel spreads to millions of Egyptian families during this

    crisis.

  • Ask God to inspire Egyptian believers with creative and appropriate ways to

    share God’s Word. Pray they seize every opportunity, with wisdom, to tangibly

    love their neighbors and to share the hope that is within them.

  • Pray that Egyptian believers will be filled with God’s strength and be

    encouraged.

*Names changed

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Graham is a writer for the International Mission Board, online

at IMB.org.)

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