Government protesters and supporters clash in Egypt

By February 3, 2011

Egypt (MNN/OD) — Christians in Egypt are hoping that the protests in the country will lead to more freedom for them, according to George, a church pastor who partners with Open Doors in Egypt.

"The people are afraid for the future, since this is an extremely critical time. But we trust in God, and we hope and pray for a new Egypt, with democracy and freedom for Christians," states George.

Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Orthodox Church has called upon Coptic Christians to stay away from the demonstrations and to come together and pray for the country, but many Christians are still involved in the demonstrations.

Pastor George said, "I am in contact with members of my church who have gone into the streets to protest. As Christians, we are also part of the Egyptian society and community, and we cannot stay away from all of this. It matters to us, too. We are also in the middle of it."

George just came home from a prayer meeting in the house of a believer.

"We cannot go to the church. In every street is a mosque where Muslims can go to, but there are fewer churches, and most people feel unsafe," George says.

As a result of the danger of going to churches, Christians are coming together in houses for praying because praying is very important for the church.

"It is very important that we pray at this moment," says George. "We see that the uproar could lead to a better Egypt and that things could turn out for good, but we do not know yet. So prayer is important.

"We pray for the president (Hasni Mubarak), and we do not understand why he has not withdrawn himself from his post. We pray for him that he will do what is good for Egypt and that he will leave at the right moment. Our meetings are also moments to talk about the situation and open our hearts.

"The situation on the streets is difficult. We hear gunshotsm and people are killed on the streets. We also are having problems with the provision of our food. The infrastructure in the country is under pressure. It is very scary not knowing how the situation will develop further. Tuesday was an important day as 1 million people were on the street to protest."

Pastor George also shares that the work of his church in Egypt, in partnership with Open Doors, has come to a standstill.

"Our co-workers and other volunteers cannot go to their ministries or work anymore," says George. "Road blocks, lack of public transportation, and curfews are all hindering this. And even now, we have no cash funds anymore to pay for projects or to provide our co-workers with enough money to do their work.

"Banks have been already closed for a week, and the ATMs are empty. Almost everything in Egypt runs by cash money, and that is finished for almost all Egyptians. That is concerning me, too, for what will people do when they are out of cash for more days? Please pray for Egypt, for the church and the Christians. And for President Mubarak."

Dr. Carl Moeller, president/CEO of Open Doors USA, calls the current crisis in Egypt "challenging" for Christians and is urging the church in the West to unite in prayer for believers and the future of the country. "The longer this crisis goes on, the more tensions rise. Political violence becomes more of a possibility, and frankly, there's more of an opportunity for extremist groups in the power vacuum to step in and give Egypt a more radical government than they have right now."

Moeller is asking Christians around the world to pray and to financially support the church in Egypt, especially during this uncertain time.

Egypt is ranked No. 19 on the Open Doors 2011 World Watch List of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians. Although Christians have not been targeted in the violence over the past week, there have been several attacks in January. On New Year's Day, a suicide bomber killed 22 Christians in front of the Two Saints Church in Alexandria. Egypt has by far the largest Christian minority in the Middle East — an estimated 10 million. The population of Egypt is almost 80 million.

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