It’s ugly for Christians in Cairo right now, deeply unsettling even to those who have weathered the ups and downs of the Arab Spring, said Hal Greaves*.
“The Christians I have talked to are afraid and want to leave,” said Greaves, a Christian worker who has spent time in Egypt. “Even before this event, people have been anxious about the uncertainty of the future. There is a lot of fear in the Christian community.”
Generally, Coptic Christians are “Christian” by tradition and birth rather than by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Robinson said. If your parents were Christian, your ID card says you are, too.
“In Egypt, they make a distinction that if you follow Jesus Christ, then you will hear Christians use the term ‘Believer,'” he said. “Many of the Coptic Orthodox church members have never made a profession of faith, and many never really go to church.”
Like with most denominations and religions, only some are truly Jesus’ disciples among the crowd of nominal adherents, said Nik Ripken*, who has served 25 years with the International Mission Board and is an expert on the persecuted church in Muslim contexts.
“But we dare not ignore historical or cultural Christians who are being slaughtered,” Ripken said. “This is the oft forgotten ‘rule’ of history, that when the bad guys come after true Believers, they take everyone — especially the historical Christians.”
And historical Christians dare not continue without embracing a real faith, he said.
“If one is going to face persecution, he or she should make it count by being true to Jesus and His teachings, otherwise persecution comes and we get little spiritual strength, or we fight persecution with the wrong and ineffective tools,” Ripken said.
Believers in Egypt are hoping just that — for the Spirit to sweep through Egypt, and for Copts and Muslims alike to find true faith in Christ and “make it count.” Before the violence took place, Egyptian Believers were already planning a series of revivals all across the country for mid-October.
“Pastors are reporting an openness to the Gospel in their communities and a hopefulness that the Lord will foment another revolution, but this one in the hearts and souls of every Egyptian,” said Marshall Jackson*, a Christian worker who has lived in Egypt in the past.
Sarah Jenkins*, a Christian worker who has spent time in Egypt, said Believers have responded to the extreme tension by fasting and praying that God would bring peace to Egypt.
“Please pray with us that God would answer this prayer and fulfill the promise of Isaiah 19 in bringing ultimate peace to Egypt through the person of Jesus Christ,” she said.
Believers in Egypt also asked for Christians in the West to pray:
— for Egypt’s Believers to stay in Egypt.
— for them to forgive as Jesus commands.
— for their main concern to be seeing their Muslim neighbors come to faith in Jesus.