Today I played piano again in the local church, and "happened" to hear a stirring presentation given by a man from an organization devoted to the cause of persecuted Christians - "Open Doors". One of the countries this organization actively supports is Egypt.
The speaker urged people to pray for the persecuted, but also for the persecutors in lands where Christians are persecuted, even murdered for their faith. He said that victims say, over and over again, that they can feel it when people pray for them, and that the prayers of others really make a difference.
He said that it is especially difficult for people who follow Jesus after having been born Muslims - in Egypt and in other Muslim countries. They have it even harder than the ethnic Christians, for instance the Copts in Egypt. Nevertheless, Egyptian Muslims are attracted to the concepts of grace, mercy and unconditional love. When they hear that this is the message and the life lived by Jesus, they are willing to follow, even to the point of being baptized converts, knowing what suffering this will cause. He showed a photo of someone being baptized in a bathtub, and talked about a "refrigerator" shell that is routinely filled with water for baptisms, then turned upright afterwards to give the impression of being a refrigerator.
I received a flyer today (in German), with an article written by a Christian minister in Cairo. Open Doors keeps the identity of these people anonymous. Pastor X wrote in response to the killings that occurred in Cairo on Sunday, 9 October, when Coptic Christians marched in what they claim to have been a peaceful demonstration, protesting the violence other Copts in a village near Edfu endured when their church was set on fire, and Coptic homes and businesses were vandalized. On this day in October, 26 Christians were killed by the military, and over 240 were injured.
Immediately following this tragedy, all Christians in Egypt fasted and prayed for three days, and have been praying ever since. Pastor X says they are praying for a end to the attacks that endanger the peace and security of the Christians within and without the churches. Apparently many Christians keep their faith secret in order to avoid persecution. He said that he and other Christians want the church to be able to fulfill its mission to be salt and light, thus giving honor to Jesus Christ.
Elsewhere online, I read this quote from a Cairo pastor following violence last weekend:
In the church service today many were moved to pray. Next Saturday I will be praying, but not alone. Several of us will be praying for the situation in Egypt as well as elsewhere in the world. My candle is becoming a torch.
If you would like to know more about Open Doors, here is a link.
This link will direct you to the Open Doors group of the country of your choice.