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The Prayer Warriors of the Persecuted Church in Egypt

November 11, 2011 was a critical day for the Egyptian Church.

Following months of revolutionary activity, and the blood of many political martyrs, and coming on the heels of almost a decade of faithful prayer for their country, 70,000 Christians of many denominations drew together in a night vigil of worship and prayer at the famous cave churches in Mokattam, at the heart of Cairo, calling to God, to bring transformation, hope, and renewal to the church and the people of Egypt and the Middle East. (The image above shows one of the cave churches.)

70,000 Christians of many denominations drew together in a night vigil of worship and prayer at the famous cave churches in Mokattam.

But these months and years since have not proven easy, perhaps in fulfillment of God's Word in Hebrews 12—God disciplines those he loves.

Over the five years following this event, dozens of other Coptic Orthodox and other Egyptian Christians—including fathers, grandmothers, and teens—have been killed, abducted, beaten, falsely accused, and imprisoned. In 2013 alone, scores of churches were burned by the intentional actions of terrorist groups, or by the mob-mentality of angry and disenchanted Muslims.

In this last twelve months, three dates bear a painful significance in the hearts of Egyptian Christians:

  • December 11, 2016: The Botroseya Church bombing killed 29 people and injured 47 others.
  • April 9, 2017: Bombings of two Coptic churches kill over 45 people and injures over 130. St. George's Coptic Orthodox Church in the Tanta region and St Mark's Church in Alexandria were bombed during Palm Sunday processions.
  • May 26, 2017: The 2017 Minya attack, when gunmen executed at least 28 Christian pilgrims in Minya Governorate.

Besides the 102 killed during these three mass-murders, in the first half of 2017, at least 8 Christians were killed in separate attacks by Islamic militants in the city of El Arish in the Sinai Peninsula. (Many Coptic families have responded by fleeing from the Sinai to Ismailia Governorate.) 3 other Christians were killed in further incidents in Alexandria and the Nile Delta, under circumstances that point to motives of religious extremism.

Altogether, this decade is proving to be one of the most severe and intense times of persecution that Christians in Egypt have experienced in centuries. But it is also becoming one of the most profound, consistent expressions of the power of Christ in the Egyptian Church, as testimonies of forgiveness are being heard from every side, and public figures are beginning to take notice. When we look back, we can be assured that it is not the curse of God which is causing this marked increase in religious tension, and this aggression, but the humbling of God's people in intercessory prayer.

Testimonies of forgiveness are being heard from every side, and public figures are beginning to take notice.

But will the efforts of Egyptian Christians to express forgiveness and faith in the face of these attacks continue? Will they continue to be living witnesses of the Holy Spirit, or will they eventually be overcome by anger, grief, and fear? We must pray for the church in Egypt to stand strong in their determination to bring the light of Christ into their country and their region. This is the birthplace of Christianity, the cradle of our faith, and as God has promised in Isaiah, he loves and is still invested in the future of these lands: “The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.’” (Isaiah 19:25)

This November, the Office of Social Justice is marking the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church by remembering the Church in Egypt. Find prayer resources for your church, including free bulletin inserts, on our religious persecution pages here.


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