As Egypt marks one year since revolution, Christians look past surface tension to real need

By January 25, 2012

Egypt (IMB/MNN)– Egypt's new lower house of parliament just held
its first session two days ago, after
completing an historic election that put Islamic groups in the legislative

A year ago, Cairo was in turmoil as thousands
of angry protesters clashed with government soldiers and tanks.

While the square seems calm, there's an energy that leads
Christian worker to note the region's volatility.

Lucy Hamilton (not her real name), with the Southern Baptist
International Mission Board
says the Arab
Spring was the manifestation of the tension in the region. "In Egypt at least, there's a revolution
attitude of ‘I can do what I want' because people are disillusioned and desperate,
and the police force is unable to keep up with petty crime problems."

The changes in Egypt haven't been as deep as many expected, but
they have still made a region-wide impact, says
Nik Ripken (not his real name), who has served 25 years with the International Mission Board and
is an expert on the persecuted church in Muslim contexts.

"I believe that the Arab
Spring and what has happened in Egypt has begun to redefine the Arab if not the
entire Muslim world," Ripken says. "What has happened to Mubarak has so
terrified the leaders of countries like Yemen and Syria,  and of course we
saw what played out in Libya — that no dictator or leader is now willing to
participate in a peaceful transition to a more democratic or less corrupt form
of government."

The people seem to want something as
different as possible from the leadership they've had, Ripken notes, adding that this may
mean a more Islamic form of government.

Because Egyptian
people don't feel like they have gotten the jobs, economic improvement, new
opportunities or respect, not much has changed in their view. Proving Ripken's point, the winners of the
elections came from the Muslim Brotherhood and the ultra-conservative Salafi
al-Nour party.

But with this, much like Tahrir Square
on its peaceful days, things may not be exactly as they appear, says Ripken. "This is not necessarily a bad thing from a
believer's point of view, because having conversations concerning faith and
religion are more important for us than conversations about government and
corruption." Ripken continues, "Often it is in the most conservative of
Muslim hearts that we are finding God appearing to them in dreams and visions
and sending them on a spiritual pilgrimage that can last for years, where they
secretly read the Bible many times and have quiet discussions with followers of
Jesus Christ."

Hamilton says a sense of hopelessness in
the government can bring them to Christ, too.

"We hear that many are turning to the
One whose Kingdom is just and merciful and has no end," she says. "The church in
Egypt also seems to be waking up as never before. It is great to watch Him use His
church in the work of revolutionizing hearts."

In the light of this, Ripken says, "We want to
pray that we will take every opportunity we can to feed the hungry, clothe the
naked, give that cold cup of water in Jesus' name. We must pray for the absence
of fear for both believers in country and those from the West who are seeking
to meet the needs of both the body and soul inside these countries." 

Pray that people will have access to the
Gospel through any means possible. Ripken
concludes with this thought: "Now we have time to prepare the next generation
for going to people groups and countries that have experienced massive change."


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