(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Thursday August 25, 2022 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.
Egypt: Population: 104.6 million, Christians 16.2 million
1. Egypt, Christianity is legal, but Christians are excluded from many parts of society. Religious freedom, particularly the right to practice Abrahamic religions (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity), is included in the Egyptian Constitution. However, the Egyptian constitution also establishes Islam as the official state religion. Much of the social exclusion and discrimination of Christians comes from within their local communities. Christians are barred from holding jobs and prominent positions in Egyptian academia, which often require their faculty to study the Quran or adhere to tenants of Islam. There have also been reports that Christians are denied jobs for failing to meet requirements from employers that could only be met by Muslims. In rural areas, Christians often take trains into northern Egypt or to the neighboring country of Libya in search of employment
2. The Egyptian government requires churches to register. In 2016, the Egyptian government passed a law that appeared to aid Christians in gaining the necessary permits to construct more churches. However, acquiring a church-construction permit is an extensive process. “There are laws regarding churches. It’s a long process to submit papers for building a new church. Since September 2017, just 1,800 churches have been registered out of over 5,000 pending applications. Many churches remain unlicensed, and since 2016, the Egyptian government has closed numerous unlicensed churches, particularly those located in the villages of Upper Egypt (southern Egypt). The Egyptian president, Abdel-Fattah El Sisi, has lately approved the construction of several large churches in large cities such as Alexandria or Cairo. However, much of the Christian population is located in the rural villages of Upper Egypt where authorities often stall or deny the construction of new churches. “In the cities, Christians are generally free to practice their religion. But poor Christians in rural Minya can’t afford to go [to the cities],” “In fact, Christians in Minya don’t blame Sisi for the lack of churches. They say it’s officials under him who are caving into Muslim extremists in the villages.” In 2018, the U.S. State Department reported that “a group of Muslim villagers hurled stones and bricks, breaking the windows of a building used as a church…. The attack followed a government inspection of the building, a step toward legalizing the church.”
3. An individual’s religious affiliation is listed on their ID card. The Egyptian government includes a person’s religious designation on their ID card, which then dictates what Islamic laws concerning marriage, divorce, or inheritance apply. If someone converts from Islam to Christianity, it is difficult to reflect that change in religious designation on an ID card. According to Open Doors USA’s World Watch Research, if a married couple converts from Islam to Christianity, by law their marriage is declared void and their children illegitimate. “The law states individuals may change their religion,” says a report on Egypt by the U.S. State Department. “However, the government recognizes conversion to Islam, but generally not from Islam to any other religion.
4. Christians who converted from Islam face social pressure. Within society, apostasy from Islam is not tolerated. Muslim friends and family often place enormous amounts of pressure on Christians to DE convert.
5. Christian human rights activists have been imprisoned. Human rights activist and Coptic Christian, Ramy Kamel has been in prison since 2019. Kamel has defended the rights of Coptic Christians in Egypt by documenting attacks on Christian churches by Islamic extremists. He was arrested on charges of “spreading false news” and “belonging to a terrorist organization.” USCIRF has stated that Kamel has been detained in solitary confinement for over a year without trial.
6. Islamic State (ISIS) and Salafist jihadists fuel violent attacks on Christians in both rural areas and cities. The presence of Islamic extremists in Egypt has increased dramatically since the rise of ISIS in 2014. Extremist groups operate within both rural villages, particularly in Upper Egypt, and in large cities, like Alexandria. In villages, Islamic extremism has inspired local violence against Christians from kidnappings to church vandalism, to violent mobs and coordinated attacks. In the cities, churches have been struck by shootings and suicide bombers, often in the middle of services. ISIS and Salafist jihadists have explicitly targeted Christians. In a video claiming responsibility for a suicide bombing, ISIS labeled Christians in Egypt ‘our first target and favorite prey.’
7. Christian women are often kidnapped and forced to convert. Many young Christian women are kidnapped by Islamic extremists, forced to convert to Islam and then often married off to Muslim men. “The Salafist group I knew rented apartments in different areas of Egypt to hide kidnapped Coptic girls,” said a former Muslim and former trafficker in Egypt in an article with Open Doors USA. “There they put them under pressure and threaten them to convert to Islam. And once they reach the legal age, an Islamic official comes in to legally change their religion to Islam.”When the family of a missing Christian woman reports to the authorities, police are slow to react or respond. “Because local police are more often than not in collusion with the kidnappers, the families have to come up with enormous sums to get their daughters back,” stated an article from The Washington Times. “If the family is poor, their daughter is gone forever.”
8. Mass violent attacks on Christians and churches are common. The possibility of being killed for confessing Christ is continually present for Christians in Egypt. Attacks are frequent in the rural areas of Upper Egypt, especially in the Minya Governate, according to Open Doors USA The Minya Governorate is notorious for the high number of attacks on Christians. However, believers in the economically disadvantaged rural areas in the north experience a similar degree of oppression. Islamic extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood have nationwide support, but violent Islamic militants are only openly active in the northeastern area of the Sinai Peninsula.
- Pray that the President El Sisi and His ministers will become forceful in getting lower-level provincial government leaders to observe the law and not willfully disadvantage Christians.
- Ask God to change the hearts of influential local leaders, to recognize and value the contribution Christians make to society.
- Pray for the protection of Christian girls and women from Muslim radicals, their attacks to mock and shame and especially forced marriages.
- Pray to the Lord to deliver Christian women who have been forced into marrying a Muslim, to give them hope in their difficult circumstances.
- Pray stable and fulfilling work for Christian men, so they can provide for their families. Pray for Christian Egyptian families as they seek to follow Jesus in the midst of constant pressure.
- Pray to the Lord that He will bind the forces of darkness and that permissions to build churches will be approved without delays.
- Pray for the left behind family members to recover and experience healing when an Egyptian Christian is martyred.
- Pray to the Lord for the NGOs who minister to the persecuted Christians with spiritual and physical aid.
- Pray that Christians will be given wisdom and boldness and protection as they go out to bring the good news to the lost.
- Pray to the Lord that He will reveal Himself to those who rebel against Him in a way that speaks to their hearts, appears to them in their dreams.
- Pray that Christians have good internet coverage where they live and that the messages will edify them as well as touch unbelievers who serve the net.
- Pray for the Christian radio stations that broadcast into Egypt that the Lord will reach many who need to be encouraged by the word.
- Pray for church leaders to be protected in their communities from false accusations of inciting religious hatred.
- Pray that persecuted believers will not become bitter and be able to love and forgive.
- Pray to the Lord for a vital and growing Egyptian church.
We are continuing to lift up these persecuted witnesses to the Lord:
Leah Sharibu prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018. Pray for her release.
Alice Loksha Ngaddah was kidnapped in February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
Pastor Wang Yi to be released from Chinese prison.
Anita a Christian convert, facing a long prison term who escaped from Iran and praying to go to a country where she can express her faith openly.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran for his release and his family as their persecution continues. Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence.
“I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18)
Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator
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What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern time in the United States (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted, and the missions became one. Brother Blaine passed into glory on December 26, 2019. It was truly a blessing for all of us to serve alongside this dear man of God and he will be greatly missed. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch remains an important part of our mission. Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with the dedicated Persecution Watch prayer warrior team.
Prior to the passing of Brother Blaine, he confirmed the passing of the torch as prayer conference call leader to Nadia Dybvik. Nadia has a burdened heart for the persecuted and is a prayer warrior standing in the gap for them. She joined the Persecution Watch prayer team in 2013 and has been part of the core ever since. Before becoming the prayer call leader, she served in the role of prayer moderator since 2015. Blaine chose Nadia for her faithfulness to pray for the persecuted and her strong commitment to the Persecution Watch mission. We are blessed not only with her gift of prayer, but her genuine love for every brother and sister in Christ that comes on the call to pray. May the Lord continue to bless Nadia and the prayer team in the mission and their personal lives.
“Pray for us” is the number one request that we hear from the persecuted. As the members of the first century Church were moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.
On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the conference call to share the trials they are facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.
Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone.
We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you are new to the call and cannot find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!
God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.
Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team
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