Egypt (MNN) – Islamic extremists with connections to the Islamic State recently issued a threat toward Egypt’s Coptic Christians. This time, it gravely affects summer ministries.
According to an article by the World Watch Monitor, Andrea Zaki, president of the Protestant Churches of Egypt, said he asked all their churches and conference centers to cancel their trips and events for the next three weeks amid news that they could be targeted by radicals.
Albert Fawzi, executive director of SAT-7 Egypt, confirms some of the details of the warning issued by the Egyptian Security Services this week.
“There [are] some sort of imminent threats that will be targeting Christians in the coming time,” Fawzi says. “I think the time is like three weeks in July. It is advisable by the church leaders to take some precautions in order to protect Christians as far as possible.
“The church leaders, I saw this on social media, have started to cancel all big events or church groups going for summer vacations or for big events like summer retreats and conferences.”
Fawzi also referenced the March threat of IS leaflets in the Sinai peninsula that sent thousands of Christians fleeing. Since December 2016, a reported 117 Coptic Orthodox Christians have been murdered across the country. On May 26, gunmen killed at least 28 Copts traveling by bus to Ascension Day services, while five more Copts have been mysteriously murdered over the past six weeks, according to the World Watch Monitor.
Fawzi says some believers have accepted the church’s decision to suspend activities, while others disagree.
“People are divided into, you can say, two groups,” Fawzi says. “Some of them will say it’s good, that we will obey the church leaders and take this extra precaution, and others will say, ‘What if we requested not to go the church itself, because of the threatening?’ So yes, some people were angry about this, and others will accept it.”
Despite their disagreements, these believers share a common hope. Fawzi says the threat of violence is causing believers to draw closer to God.
“Each time there is a new threat or dangerous news coming, you will see the church be full of Christians,” Fawzi says. “This is encouraging to us, even though it’s hard to imagine. Threats will make people go and seek God even more because you don’t have anything to defend yourself or situation other than God’s protection.”
It’s an uncertain time for Christians in Egypt, and they need your prayers. Fawzi asks that you pray for peace and strength for these believers, as well as for unity among church leaders. Also, he requests that you pray that God’s love would win over the hearts of the radicals.