Egypt, the strategic gateway to the Middle East

By January 30, 2020

Egypt (MNN) – The Middle East stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to Afghanistan. It is home to nearly 300 million people who live in 21 countries and who speak four main languages: Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi, and Turkish. That’s further broken down into roughly 60 mother tongues, all with their own local dialects.

(Map courtesy of cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/ reference_maps/pdf/middle_east.pdf)

The region encompasses Sudan, Mauritania, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, the countries of the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahr, Yemen, Qatar, and Oman), Egypt, and Libya.

Of these countries, many recognize Egypt as a strategic location when it comes to the issue of reaching Muslims with the Gospel. After all, it’s a gateway into the Middle East. Greg Kelley, Executive Director of World Mission, says it’s also the cultural center for all of North Africa.  

An urgent call

On his recent visit, he saw, firsthand, that  Christians aren’t the only ones looking at mobilizing and training. Recognizing that an effective strategy to reaching Muslims in the Middle East needs to go through Egypt, and more specifically, through Cairo, he filed the following report: 

(Photo courtesy of World Mission)

 “Here is an amazing University and incredibly large university 60,000 students. It’s a missions training center located in Cairo, where the students are from over 100 countries around the world, all being trained as Muslim missionaries. Some 24,000 Graduates every year are being launched out to every country imaginable in Asia, in America and Canada, and all of Latin America throughout Europe.

It’s an incredibly aggressive strategy that Muslims have, and a lot of these students that are graduating are radicalized; they are taught on how to advance Sharia law there, they’re imams in these places. We need to be aware of that.  

Jesus has called us to make disciples of all nations and here in the Middle East, So be praying for the Middle East be praying for the Christian leaders that are reaching Muslims for Jesus in this area.”

Challenges for ministry

Ranking 16th on the Open Doors’ World Watch List of countries where it’s hardest to live as Christian, Egyptian believers feel like they’re living in a pressure cooker. In rural areas and the northern part of the country, there’s social pressure from the community. There’s pressure from family. Sometimes this results in violence against the person for following Christ.

Greg Kelley details strategic importance of Egypt to reaching the Middle East. (Photo courtesy of World Mission)

In the cities, according to groups like the Voice of the Martyrs USA and Canada, extremists attack social media or menace Christians in public spaces. Christians feel like second-class citizens in their home country. Authorities trample their rights, and there’s frequent discrimination. The government also encumbers some ministry work by delaying official recognition for thousands of churches.  

In some cases, the low-level duress spills over into terror attacks against churches, as was the case for dozens in 2019, when ISIS publicly vowed to wage war on Christians. Yet, the followers of Christ remain focused on ways to share the hope of the Gospel.

Egypt and the Gospel

Given the difficulties a new project poses to those involved, World Mission didn’t release specific details of their plans in Egypt. However, they work closely with a network of national partners who can help resource the Gospel workers with training and tools like the Treasure, a solar-powered, hand-held audio player containing the Gospel message in their language. Pray for creative wisdom for ministries working in dominant Muslim regions.

 

 

(Headline photo courtesy World Mission)

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