GARLAND?”We need to pray that God will influence the process of delegating the power of government in Egypt away from the military and into the people’s hands so they can elect a civilian government,” said Abdul, an Egyptian Christian now ministering to Muslims in the United States, and whose identity is protected in this story. “We’re talking about big stuff here,” he said. “This is very important.”
“Many American and European friends have told me they are praying for Egypt and the Mideast. They have been praying for an open door, and that door is now open. The walls of resistance are collapsing. God is moving in Egypt,” Abdul told the TEXAN during a visit to Texas Feb. 14-15 for a conference on missions to North Africa hosted by New Life Baptist Church in Garland.
Since Hosni Mubarak’s resignation, Egypt’s constitution that once restricted freedom of religion and evangelism is now void, Abdul said.
“All Christians should pray that the new constitution will offer complete freedom of religion without harassment, and that the people can experience real democracy,” he said.
Though Egyptians previously enjoyed limited religious freedoms, they have faced severe persecution from the country’s secret police force, which is now in custody, Abdul said.
Abdul also estimated the number of Egyptian converts from Islam to Christianity at 100,000, but noted that number is difficult to know because thousands of converts remain underground for fear of persecution in a culture that deems abandonment of one’s traditional religion as treason, or worse.
John, a Christian aid worker who once lived in Egypt and whose identity is also protected, told the TEXAN that quantifying the number of Muslims-turned-Christians is exceedingly difficult because of the “broad seed-sowing of the gospel” that dates from Presbyterian efforts in the 1800s to the variety of current, out-of-country media efforts by numerous Christian ministries still proclaiming the gospel. John also underscored that, though Egypt does have some religious freedoms, the cultural pressures are such that converts from Islam must either go underground or face possible severe harassment, and sometimes, deadly persecution.
“Any time you are among a small minority in a sea of change, it’s a scary place to be,” John said. “So, Christians in that situation are facing a lot of uncertainty and they don’t have a particularly loud voice at the table. While the world jumps up and down with glee that Mubarak is gone, the Christians don’t know how to feel.”
Abdul added: “Those Muslims who came to Christ are still underground. Please pray that they will come on stage in Egypt as disciples of Jesus Christ because that would lead to an incredible movement for Christianity and God in Egypt.”
According to Abdul, Coptic Orthodox Christians and members of the Evangelical Church in Egypt are, as business owners, responsible for approximately 40 percent of Egypt’s economy. As such, they can wield significant political power, he said.
“If they would, they could have a huge influence in the process of gaining more democratic rights for all Egyptians. Pray that they will stand up and make their voices heard,” he said. “They need to stand for themselves for the sake of citizens’ rights and for the sake of the gospel so Christians can be free to evangelize without fear.”
Abdul also asks for Christians to pray for the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The Muslim Brotherhood has a political agenda in that they want to turn Egypt to radical Islam,” Abdul said. “I want Americans to pray that will never happen.”
“Contrary to media reports that tout the Muslim Brotherhood as sweet, loving people, they have a definite agenda to radicalize Egypt,” said John, who suspects the Muslim Brotherhood was behind the assassination of Mubarak’s predecessor, Anwar Sadat. “They were Islamists, however, who killed Sadat,” he added.
“I want to challenge Christians not to take media at face value, but determine what recent changes in Egypt mean for the gospel and for Muslims who are prevented from hearing the clear gospel by their culture and, to some extent, the government.”
“The Muslim Brotherhood is already telling the international media that they are for rights for everyone. But they are lying,” Abdul said. “They do this so they don’t have to answer questions about Islam.”
In a Muslim nation the only religious freedom one has is to be a Muslim, he added.
“Pray that God will keep the Muslim Brotherhood from influencing the political process in my home country,” Abdul said. “But also pray that God will influence the Muslim Brotherhood so they can see him at work. I want to see God touch the Muslim Brotherhood so they are influenced by what God has done and is doing in the lives of others.”
Abdul also asks for prayers for his parents still in Egypt, who, despite declining physical health, participated in recent protests there.
“To Christians around the world, I ask them to pray that God will move in Egypt in a mighty way, and that my people will not only find political freedom,” Abdul said, “but will be free from the spiritual darkness of Islam.”
Regarding Christians who see such events in the Middle East more from a perspective of the biblical End Times, John said: “I don’t claim to know the hour of Jesus’ return, but I don’t think it’s that soon, really. Jesus said he’d return when the gospel had been preached to all peoples, and we haven’t done that yet.” Instead of focusing on eschatology, he said, Christians should “get on with the task of taking the gospel to those who have yet to hear.”
“From a biblical perspective, Egypt has always played a big role under God’s sovereignty in redemptive history,” said Tony Maalouf, associate professor of missions and director of the Islamic studies program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.
“‘Out of Egypt I called my Son’ (Hosea 11:1) means that Messiah’s salvation has a universal outlook, and Egypt is highlighted as a primary beneficiary of this universality,” he said. “If we keep this end-time purpose of God for Egypt in mind, we cannot but be optimistic as history unfolds in that country and freedom is appropriated once again by the people.”
Maalouf told the TEXAN he is “optimistic that some sort of democracy will take place in the country of Egypt. The success of the revolution of the people is only the beginning of the process. It will be a long process of reform on many levels.”
“From a Christian perspective, I hope and pray that this will eventually affect positively religious freedom as well,” said Maalouf, author of the book, “Arabs in the Shadow of Israel: The Unfolding of God’s Prophetic Plan for Ishmael’s Line.”
Regarding evangelistic opportunities related to the revolt, Maalouf said many Egyptians living in America have family ties in Egypt.
“Therefore, whatever affects their family members overseas will eventually have an impact on them as well,” Maalouf said. “A potential turning to the Lord of family members in Egypt will mean a greater witness and influence on Egyptian-Americans here. A freer church life in Egypt and a bolder church witness will for sure impact Egyptians in the U.S.A. as well.”