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Help me, for I am being
persecuted without cause.
Psalm 119:86
 
A plea to help the church in Egypt
 
If one hundred American churches were burned to the ground, those of us who live in the U.S.A. would want Christians in other parts of the world to notice and care. There was little public outrage for 101 churches and many homes that were burned and attacked in Egypt in August of 2013.  Most of the people I have asked about these events had minimal knowledge of this tragedy.  I only knew about it because I heard a man from The Bible Society of Egypt speak at church last Sunday.  Here is a news story with more details about what occurred:  
 

Massive riots in Egypt in mid-August left behind more than 800 dead, and at least 4,000 were injured, as Egyptian police and soldiers clashed with demonstrators. Unfortunately, supporters of jailed Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi also vented their wrath at the country’s Christian minority, in what activists described as “the worst coordinated attacks on Egypt’s Coptic community in modern history.”

Even Associated Press, which isn’t considered a pro-Christian news outlet, reported on the extent of the assaults.

“In the four days since security forces cleared two sit-in camps by supporters of Egypt’s ousted president, Islamists have attacked dozens of Coptic churches along with homes and businesses owned by the Christian minority,” reported AP. “Nearly 40 churches have been looted and torched, while 23 others have been attacked and heavily damaged since Wednesday [August 14].”

A more detailed report lists 56 churches attacked in a 24-hour span that started on August 14. Fifteen more were hit over the next two days. Dozens of Coptic institutions like schools, monasteries, bookstores, and even an orphanage were also attacked.

The Bible Society of Egypt has been operating for 129 years, and this is the first time it’s been the victim of assaults like those carried out on two of its bookstores. Both were burned to the ground.

On August 18, AFP talked with Dr. Halim Meawad, a deacon for 26 years with St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church, the largest Coptic church in the Washington, D.C. area.

“St. Mark was the founder of the Coptic Church in 45 A.D.,” Meawad explained. “All of Egypt was Coptic for almost a thousand years until the Muslims invaded and started imposing heavy taxes on the Christians. Those who couldn’t pay were forced to convert to Islam under pain of death. Today’s Muslims in Egypt are descendants of Copts who couldn’t pay their taxes hundreds of years ago.”

“The Copts today are only 10% of Egypt’s population of 90 million,” said Dr. Meawad, “but they have much economic and social influence in Egypt. They are the largest Christian community in Egypt and also the largest in all the Middle East.”

Asked what brought about the recent riots and the attacks on Copts, he explained:

“Since its founding in 1929, the Muslim Brotherhood has been involved in assassinations, arson, and terrorism, with the single goal of making Egypt an Islamist republic. They co-opted the Egyptian revolution of 2011, which was a genuine grassroots movement against [former Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak’s tyranny. Shortly after Morsi came to power last year, he started changing the constitution to give himself and the Muslim Brotherhood unlimited power. Millions of Egyptians, including moderate Muslims, secularists, liberals, and Christians, protested against his government last November, but he continued with his goal of turning Egypt into an Islamic republic. On June 30, 33 million Egyptians demonstrated against him in what was probably the biggest demonstration in history, causing his ousting on July 3.”

“The Copts were attacked because as Christians, they were a convenient scapegoat for the Brotherhood,” explained Dr. Meawad.

“Since Morsi’s ousting, his supporters set up camps on town squares and refused to leave,” said Meawad. “They were blaming the Copts for Morsi’s downfall and had already started threatening and attacking us. The sheer scale of the recent attacks against us proves that they were orchestrated rather than a byproduct of chaotic unrest.”

“Neither the Copts nor the military are responsible for Morsi’s ouster,” Dr. Meawad explained. “The Egyptian people simply did not want him. Morsi was elected with only 14 million votes last year, but 33 million Egyptians in the streets on June 30 told him they didn’t want him.”

Thank you, Pete, very much for getting our voice heard out there.  We definitely need as much spreading the word about the atrocities our fellow Copts are enduring as possible.  Sadly, from the day you have reached out to us [August 18, 2013] till today [September 1, 2013], a total of 101 churches have been burned down/attacked. 

  –St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church  

For the full news story, click here. 

According to the man I heard speak from The Bible Society of Egypt, those who started the fire did so with the intent that the Christians would retaliate and cause the country to be thrown into a civil war.  He reported that there was no retaliation!  They considered their churches being burned as a burnt offering to God, and they choose the path of peace. 

So what can we do in response to the persecution the church in Egypt has faced?  November 10, 2013 is the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church.  Joining together with Christians around the world to pray for those being persecuted is a great place to start.  We can also contribute to The Bible Society of Egypt.
 
The Bible Society of Egypt exists to make the Scriptures available to all at an affordable price.  They are the largest publisher of Arabic Bibles in the world.
 
Please share this information with your family and friends.  For more information about the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church, click here. 
 

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Always

 
“I pray for them.”  Jesus
John 17:9
 
 
Jesus is able to save
 completely
those who come to
God through Him,
because He always lives
 to intercede for them.
Hebrews 7:25
 
 
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy & find help in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

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“Rivers of living water will flow
from the heart of anyone
who believes in me.”
Jesus
 
 
Recently, one of my close friends had an experience that I found inspiring.  I asked her to write about it so that I could share her story with you;  I pray that it challenges you like it has challenged me.
 
 My Friend’s Story 
 
After a long day at a home with my children, my husband gave me a much-needed break.  I went to a restaurant with my Bible and journal in hopes of being rejuvenated.  When I got there, I saw a nice booth by the window in the bar section.  I decided to do my reading and journaling there, though it seemed funny to me to have my “quiet time” in a bar.  While I was there, I ordered something to eat.  When the bartender delivered my food, I struck up a conversation with her.  After chatting for a few minutes, I asked her if there were anything I could pray for her about.  She looked somewhat surprised and sat down across from me.  Then she said, “No one has ever asked me that before.”  She seemed genuinely touched.  She then proceeded to tell me about some financial struggles she and her husband were having.  I asked, “Would it be OK if I prayed for you right now?”  “Sure” she replied, so I prayed specifically about the things she had mentioned.  
~

In the months that followed, I continued to think about the bartender.  Gradually, I started to feel that the Lord was leading me to give her one thousand dollars, money that I had been saving (for a long) time in my benevolence fund.  I decided I would visit her at the bar and give her the money.  It had been eight months since our first encounter, so I wondered if she would remember me.  I decided to enclose the cash inside a card so I could write her a note.  In the card, I told her what my life was like because I knew the Lord.  I also enclosed a short essay that I had written, explaining how much God loves us, along with my phone number.  I wrote that I would be happy to answer any questions she might have, but that there was no pressure to contact me.

I was very nervous about going to see her, but I went anyway.  When I arrived, I sat down and waited while she was with other customers.  When she got to me, I asked, “Do you remember me?  I was here several months ago.”  At first she gave me a blank look, but then she said, “Oh yes, you were my angel who prayed for me.”  I was really surprised by this, but I was pleased that she remembered me.  I gave her the card and asked her to open it on her way home.

I left the bar feeling exhilarated.  It was so wonderful to follow through on what I felt the Lord was asking me to do.  I never did hear from my bartender friend, but I know that her life (and mine) is different because of how the Lord used me.
 
Good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.  1 Timothy 5:25  

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