Egypt (MNN) — The Egyptian national unity that seemed to make a cohesive unit of people calling for Hosni Mubarak's ouster has shattered.
A year later, an Islamist campaign of intimidation seems to have frightened many Christians away from the polls. Voters across Egypt are deciding on an Islamist-drafted constitution that has fractured the country.
The first round of voting garnered a 57% "yes'" vote. The second round begins December 22. Already there have been accusations of irregularities, violations, and low voter turnout.
Because of the lack of Christian (along with women and secularist) input in the draft charter, Christians are worried about their future under empowered Muslim conservatives. Christian Aid Mission Africa director Rae Burnett explains, "They believe that they might even be slaughtered if they meet in churches and that their houses can be burned, and all of these radical things that we see. But on a day-to-day level, they are really very afraid that they will be forced into a life of poverty and degradation."
Nigeria's Sharia movement has taken a more vicious turn, with the al-Qaeda-backed Boko Haram boldly attacking churches and Christians nearly every week. That's a future that Christians fear will be theirs. Burnett says a Sharia constitution would jeopardize a "decent lifestyle where their children would have any kind of a future.
Tens of thousands of Christians have fled the country due to the increasing danger of being attacked or killed. Christian Aid supports Gospel work in Egypt. Ministry leaders, surprisingly, are determined to stay in order to share the Gospel with their countrymen, although they are not able to move about as they once did. They have to be much more
circumspect about how they bear the name of Christ. "It's almost like a
spirit of blindness has come on everybody in the Islamist world," reports Burnett, "and I
would say that there's been a huge damper in being able to reach people
with the love of Christ because they're just totally closed to any
Ministry partners are asking for prayer as they continue their work of discipleship and neighborhood evangelism. Other than prayer, says Burnett, they need financial help.
Christian Aid addresses the economic repression experienced by many Christians. "We try to help them, as much as we can, be independent, so that they can be free, not having to worry about having the basics that they need so that they can focus on the work of the Lord."
The Africa Division of Christian Aid has set up a fund to support the missionary work of persecuted native ministries.