Arab Spring not bringing revolution or freedom for Christians

By December 15, 2011

Egypt (MNN/ODM) — 11 months ago, the spark of revolution ignited in Tunisia. Within weeks,  the
first regime tumbled. 

What followed in the next few months was the toppling of
other repressive governments. The season
of protest was soon dubbed "Arab Spring." The movement changed the landscape of the Middle East and North Africa and
sent shockwaves around the world.

However, not everyone has been benefitting from the
uprisings. Carl Moeller is President and
CEO of Open Doors USA, a ministry advocating on the behalf of the persecuted
church. He says, "The reality for
Christians in Northern Africa, Middle Eastern region, that have experienced an
'Arab Spring' is that the situation is far more complex and dangerous for
Christians in that region than it was a year ago. The political dimension of
almost every one of the revolutions has become the contours of an Islamic

Christians were already a minority population in countries
like Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, and for them the future is all but clear. Did they get any benefit from the democracy
movement? It depends on who you
ask. Many hailed the movement as a victory
for democracy. However, the reality doesn't resemble democracy as Americans
recognize it. Moeller
says, "That didn't dim the optimism that many of our Christian brothers in
Egypt had during that time frame, because they were throwing off a regime that
was oppressive. One of the challenges now is to reconcile those great hopes
with the unmistakable reality that there is still a very strong possibility
that persecution is going to increase."

Will 2012 bring more persecution and marginalization for
Christians, or greater liberty to worship?Moeller says, "In places like Egypt, we are
going to see a lot more turmoil before the day is out. There's one thing you
can say about this movement: it is still defining itself." It's
not totally set in stone, Moeller points out.
"There are still two more election rounds to go, and we know that in
those election rounds, other things can happen to form the final form of the

Moeller adds that the current situation in Egypt in which the
Islamist Muslim Brotherhood is holding an estimated 40% of the seats
in the parliamentary elections so far is a reality check for Coptic and
evangelical Christians, who comprise 10% of the population. Hardline
Salafists are also doing well in the on-going election.

Soon, Egyptian believers may be joining the ranks of Iraqi
believers on the move. "We think
that Christians will emigrate more; we
think there will be an upswing in persecution and restrictions. But we're still
hopeful and prayerful that the church will continue to grow, nonetheless."

The up-side of this story is that it means the Gospel is taking
root. "Where the Gospel is
penetrating more, there's more persecution. Where there's more persecution, it
seems that there's a greater opportunity for the Gospel to be shared and for the church to actually grow."

It's a paradox of note: "They become more committed to
their faith as their faith that they're committed to costs them more."  The single most requested help coming from
believers in the region is prayer. 
Moeller says, "Pray for the Christians in Egypt to be strong amid
the uncertainty and the increasing pressure. Pray for the political
process that it will produce a government in many of these countries that will
respect the rights of Christians."

A Christian in Egypt made the following request to the Open
Doors team while saying goodbye: "Thank
you for coming. It was a great encouragement, and it really meant
something for us. Please remember us in your prayers and ask believers
in the West to pray for us. We need your prayers. We need to be one
in Christ in this challenging chapter of our history. My wife and I want
to stay here, but we know it will not be easy. Please, do not forget us
and leave us alone."

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