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EGYPT: Riots Follow Blasphemy Accusation

EGYPT: Riots Follow Blasphemy Accusation

Egypt’s Minya Governorate region erupted in violence on 25 November after rumours spread that a young, barely literate Christian man named Girgis Sameeh posted a message on Facebook that was considered insulting to Islam.

In al-Barsha, Girgis’ hometown, hundreds of Muslims attacked the homes of Coptic Christians, also looting and destroying local businesses. The fury of the mob spread to the church of Abou Sefin, where the congregation was celebrating the beginning of a fast for the Advent season.

Thankfully, there were only a few reported injuries. Due to the intervention of a concerned Muslim neighbour, the family of Girgis received protection from the rioters. Following the skirmish, police arrested about a hundred Muslims and Christians, detaining those from both sides to avoid accusations of bias. At last report, 20 Muslims and ten Christians face two weeks’ detention for questioning.

In retaliation to the lockdowns imposed to stop further riots, some Muslim villagers resorted to burning farm buildings used for cattle and feed, as well as boycotting businesses owned by Christians.

Such violent outbursts are not uncommon in Egypt and are often based on rumours. Girgis’ brother cannot believe that he would do such a thing, saying, “That’s not how he was taught to behave.”

Sources: Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin, Mission Network News, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Watani

  • Ask God to provide His peace to this troubled Egyptian community. May the Christians of this region walk in obedience to God’s Word, serving as examples of His love.
  • Pray for wisdom for the local authorities and protection for Girgis and other innocent civilians caught up in the unrest.
  • Uphold those who are now without homes or businesses, and experiencing numerous hardships as a result. Ask the Lord to bless them with needed provision and restoration.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

EGYPT: Convert Couple Severely Tested

EGYPT: Convert Couple Severely Tested

Though Egypt has a small Christian population, life is not easy for Muslims who choose to convert to Christianity.

John, a committed hardliner Muslim, came to faith in 2014 after studying the Bible in order to convince Christian friends to convert to Islam. His wife, Malika, also became a Christian after observing his new character for three years.

John knew how his family felt about converts: one cousin who came to Christ was thrown from a fourth-floor building, and another was imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital. When his family realised John had become a Christian, they imprisoned and tortured him for four months before John escaped.

Each time that John has found a job for the past three years, his family has followed him and had him fired. About a year ago, his wife and daughters were home alone when family members burst through the door, beat Malika and abducted their two girls. They intended to kill both husband and wife. Christian friends intervened, however, and the family is now safely living with other believers, though they still suffer trauma from the attack.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA

  • Ask the Lord to shield this family from opposition or attack. Ask Him to surround them with His angels to minister to them and protect them.
  • Praise God for the strength of faith this family has displayed. Pray their courage may be used by God as a witness to Him.
  • Pray for Muslim background believers all over Egypt who endure hostility or are rejected by loved ones.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

EGYPT: “The Lord Jesus Has Chosen You…”

EGYPT: “The Lord Jesus Has Chosen You…”

A young man was beaten, held captive and later disinherited after becoming interested in Christianity.

Ahmed was 16 when he found a scrap of paper on his bus seat that said, “The Lord Jesus has chosen you for Him.” This piqued his curiosity and set him on a journey of seeking Jesus.

When his family found Christian books in his room, they beat him and brought in an imam to try to change his mind. Later, they decided to send him to Saudi Arabia, where his father owned a factory. There he was imprisoned in a small room for seven years before his family allowed him to return to Egypt and then married him to a cousin.

In Egypt, Ahmed was able to access Christian media on the internet, and his faith grew. However, his family cut him off and removed his inheritance rights to his father’s business fortune.

Last year, Ahmed started a small restaurant business to support himself, but when the neighbours found out he was a Christian, they burned it down.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA

  • Uphold Ahmed, pray he will continue to look to the author and perfecter of his faith. Pray he will grow in love for God and faithfulness to Him, even in times of trial.
  • Join with Ahmed in praying for his family, that they too may recognise Jesus as their God and be brought to repentance.
  • Pray for Ahmed and others who suffer at the hands of family members, that they will receive much love and care from their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

Esther’s Story

Esther’s Story

Raised in a strict Muslim family in Egypt, Esther was given the responsibility of teaching children the Koran in the mosque, but through her teaching she found Jesus.

Esther’s parents divorced when she was young; her mother and grandfather raised her in the Islamic faith. Her grandfather was an Imam at a local mosque and taught her about the Koran and gave her the responsibility of teaching the children.

One of the young children she was teaching was researching for an assignment and began asking her a number of questions about Mohammed and the book’s validity. Esther was unable to answer the questions and she started to uncover inconsistencies in the book.

After this, the little girl moved on but Esther continued to research for two years.

“I came to the conclusion that this book is not God’s Word. Knowing that filled my heart with fear.”

Doubting the Koran is considered an offence with consequences and Esther became ill with stress. She began seeing a doctor and on her way there, she would walk through a Christian cemetery. Each time she walked past a cross, she felt immense peace.

“I often told the children in the mosque that this cross is just a piece of wood or iron – why would you worship it? But now it was providing me with so much peace,” she said.

Even though she felt apprehensive, she wanted to warn people about Mohammed’s teachings. Soon, she began anonymous social media pages to urge people that the prophet Mohammed was a liar.

“I wanted to warn people,” she recalled.

In time she found Christian forums and one day, through the forum, she received a message from someone who told her to stop focusing on Mohammed’s lies and look to Jesus.

She began her search for a Bible but it was difficult.

As Esther was fully covered in Islamic dress, it was difficult for her to buy a Bible in Christian bookshops and when she asked Christian neighbours for one, they refused. They assumed she was tricking them as they knew she taught in the mosque.

She soon met a young 14-year-old boy in the forum who said he would bring her a Bible and travelled over six hours to deliver it.

“When I held the Bible in my hand, I felt that it had the answers to all my questions,” she recalled with tears.

“I was so hungry to read it that I finished it in four days but I didn’t understand a thing. I didn’t even know how to pray.”

Esther contacted the young boy who gave her the Bible and he suggested she attend a church discipleship group for Muslim background believers in her area.

“In the mosque, I was taught that evil things like adultery would happen in the churches and so I refused to enter the church building, but the pastor’s wife spoke to me outside.”

The pastor’s wife told her to come inside and look at the church to see there was nothing to be afraid of. Eventually Esther went into the church and the pastor’s wife prayed for her.

“I felt different; it wasn’t what I expected,” she said.

When Esther walked into the discipleship group the next day, she saw about 30 people who, like herself, had found Jesus after Islam. Some of the women were even wearing hijabs.

“I had always been taught that many Christians were coming to Islam but not the other way around. I thought I was the only one!”

Esther accepted Christ that day and when she left the meeting, she felt God speak to her.

“The Lord reminded me of all the sins I had committed and I was crying and shouting in the street. I couldn’t see anyone but God in that moment,” she said.

“Later, I knew it was repentance and God showed me the heavens open and I saw Him in a different light for the
first time.”

For two years, Esther was discipled in the church and studied the Word before the leaders encouraged her to join their evangelism group, where she developed a passion for missions.

She had already begun evangelising in the streets but felt God call her to other nations – especially the country, Mauritania. She soon had the opportunity to travel to Turkey and spent two weeks ministering there.

When she arrived home, she continued to evangelise in Egypt but she and the other team members were arrested in the street.

“The security officer questioning me, knew everything about me, even that I had been to Turkey to evangelise and gave me a stern warning to stop.”

Before releasing her he told her, “If I hear about you evangelising or preaching, I know how to make your life difficult. I will punish you.”

Despite the threats, Esther continued to evangelise and even began arranging another mission trip, this time to Mauritania.

The day came for her to go but she was arrested at the airport. The same security officer questioned her and Esther admitted to him that she was indeed travelling to evangelise. He gave her another stern warning and even threatened her mother.

Months passed and Esther planned another trip – the plan this time was to spend a year in Tunisia preaching the Gospel.

The morning of her departure, she was again arrested at the airport. This time, she was kept in an underground room for three days.

The same security officer came to her for questioning.

“He was angry and aggressive and kept me waiting all day. He told me he would fill my heart with fear but the Lord had promised me no one would touch me.”

Instead, the officer played loudly an audio recording of men and women being tortured. He told her that these were former Muslims too.

The security officer opened the Bible and told her, “I know Jesus said to go into all the world but I will not let you go. I will follow you everywhere you go.”

He again sent her home with another warning telling her that as long as he was around, she would never be allowed to travel. Esther was filled with such fear she collapsed.

Over the next few months, the sounds she had heard haunted her. For a whole month, she couldn’t sleep and needed to seek professional help to heal the trauma.

After three months of counselling, she was set free from the fear and God promised her she would never be in that place again.

Recently, however, Esther left the mission group.

“My heart broke for the nations,” she said, “but I can’t travel so I couldn’t stay any more.”

Esther still continues to be a witness and even led her mother to the Lord a year ago, and she is hopeful she will one day travel again.

“I believe I will not die in Egypt,” she said.

“I know the Lord will let me serve in another nation, maybe even Mauritania.”

Voice of the Martyrs Australia continues to support the discipleship and outreach group of which Esther is a part.

If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to: vom.com.au/donate

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EGYPT: Approval of Churches Amidst Turmoil

EGYPT: Approval of Churches Amidst Turmoil

In April, it was reported that 74 applications had been approved, legalising unlicensed churches across Egypt. After the government committee met again on 19 May, a further 70 churches have been legalised, bringing the total to 1,638 since the committee was formed in January 2017. This leaves 2,000 further applications remaining for consideration.

Despite the positive action demonstrated by the government, local authorities in some areas continue to create problems. On 20 May, local authorities in Koum Al-Farag demolished a church building in response to sectarian protests. The one-story building had served as a place of worship for 15 years.

A few years ago, local Muslims constructed a mosque next door in an attempt to prevent the church building from being approved under the ongoing legalisation process. When the church building was recently expanded to accommodate a growing congregation, tensions broke out between Christians and Muslims in the area. To prevent further escalation, local authorities demolished both the church building and the mosque. Fourteen Christians were arrested when they attempted to stop the destruction.

Sources: Egypt Independent, Christian Post, Christian Solidarity Worldwide

  • Thank God for the progress demonstrated by the Egyptian government in its endeavours to grant official approval despite the backlog of applications. Pray that the process will continue favourably.
  • Pray for the people of Koum Al-Farag, as well as others who are facing sectarian tensions in their communities. Ask the Lord to bring His peace through the believers.
  • Pray that He will give wisdom to the authorities as they work to resolve the issues underlying the tensions.

Post your prayer in the comments below.