Egyptians Turning to Christ Despite Violence
by Anna Kuta, ReligionToday.com Editor
October 30, 2013
Since the Muslim Brotherhood took power in Egypt, Christians have been the targets of violence. Once the Islamist government was sacked, Christians hoped the situation would change, but, according to Mission Network News, it hasn't.
Thousands of supporters of former president Mohammed Morsi took to the streets over the weekend in Alexandria, Suez and other cities, calling for Morsi to be reinstated and urging military leader General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi to step aside. According to an I.N. Network worker, "David," the protests have put his family at risk: "Every Friday there [is] a big group of the Muslim Brotherhood; they try to come back, and they fight with the army and police. ... They are still creating troubles and problems. The last two months they've gotten very crazy. They want to destroy the country. They attack many churches. More than 80 churches have been burned. Many Christians have been killed."
But while the violence has been difficult, David says there is good news: "Churches are united together. And the spirit of prayer is happening in all the churches. People are praying all the time." The response to the violence against burned churches has also been remarkable. Christians posted signs on their burned-out churches that read: "You burned our church, but we love you."
"So it's a great message of forgiveness," David says. "This makes many Muslims discover the reality of Christianity, and many of them come to know Jesus. ... Until now, they find difficulty for security reason to join local churches, so they meet underground in a secret way. They worship the Lord together, and they're growing." As Muslims come to Christ, they're uniquely qualified to share the Gospel. "The easiest way to reach Muslims is through converted Muslims," says David.
While David isn't praying for more persecution, he's excited about God working. "It's always like this," he says. "When there is pressure over the churches, the Holy Spirit is working and many people are coming to know Jesus as Savior."
ReligionToday.com has reported on the continuing violence against Christians in Egypt, which has reached a level unseen for centuries. Most recently, four Christians were killed in an attack on a wedding in Giza. Christians in Egypt are calling for increased security for churches, but according to Todd Daniels of International Christian Concern, increased security "cannot be the only step taken if there is to be an actual decrease in the violence." The international community also has a role to play in assisting Egypt in finding strategies that work to counter terrorism, Daniels says.
In a column for ReligionToday.com, Jerry Dykstra of Open Doors USA writes: "The time to stand side by side with our brothers and sisters in Christ is now! We can not and must not be silent. The extinction of Christians in the Middle East must not happen on our watch." The No. 1 request of persecuted Christians is to pray for and with them, Dykstra says. The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, which will take place this Sunday, Nov. 3, presents an excellent opportunity to join millions in lifting up brave followers of Jesus around the world.
"Please tell Christians around the world how thankful we are for standing by our side when we are going through such hard times in Egypt," writes "Mina," an Egyptian priest. "We're so grateful not only for the financial and practical support we receive as we face our crisis, but also for the prayers and spiritual support we feel."
Is this a repeat of what happened in historic Armenia in 1915?
‘Biggest massacre’ of Christians in Syria reported as population continues to be targeted by rebels
By Madison Ruppert
Sadad is an Assyrian Christian town that was invaded by Jihadist Muslims in October 21 of this year. Why would they kill entire families, including children and elderly, then throw them into mass graves. Why then they would destroy that town of15,000 and loot it? All is in the manual of the Jihad, that they Jihadists should do such things in order to gain merits with the one they worship. Islamist writers wrote even of such incidents in the life of their prophet when he ordered invasion of two Jewish villages in the general area of Medina; he ordered the looting and taking captives, and in particular he let go members of a certain Jewish tribes after they were conquered and looted to go away free into Iraq, while he killed all the male adult members of another Jewish tribe after conquering them and has thrown their corpses into mass graves or ditches.
Two new mass graves containing over 30 bodies in the Christian city of Sadad were recently discovered, evidence of what one archbishop called “the most serious and biggest massacre” of Christians in Syria.
The situation for Christians in Syria has been horrific and it seems to be only getting worse as time passes. Indeed, for many Christians around the world, their faith puts them in the line of fire.
A report published by Fides on Thursday stated that some 45 Christian civilians, including women and children, were killed by Islamist rebels in Sadad, halfway between Homs and Damascus.
The report, which cited the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate in Damascus, stated that the Christian settlement was invaded and occupied by Islamist militias on Oct. 21, though it was recently recaptured by the Syrian army.
“45 innocent civilians were martyred for no reason, and among them several women and children, many thrown into mass graves,” said Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama. “Other civilians were threatened and terrorized. 30 were wounded and 10 are still missing.”
Much of the city, which had a population of 15,000, was destroyed and looted, eyewitnesses said, according to the Christian Post.
Sadad reportedly has roots dating back to 2,000 B.C. and boasts many churches, temples, historic landmarks and archaeological sites, the Christian Post reported.
“For one week, 1,500 families were held as hostages and human shields,” Alnemeh said of the siege of Sadad to Fides. “Among them children, the elderly, the young, men and women. Some of them fled on foot travelling 8 km from Sadad to Al-Hafer to find refuge.”
The church official said that some 2,500 families fled the city with only their clothes. Refugees remain scattered between Damascus, Homs, Fayrouza, Zaydal, Maskane and Al-Fhayle, according to Alnemeh.
Alnemeh maintains that it is the largest massacre of Christians in Syria and the second in the Middle East after the 2010 attack on a church in Iraq that left at least 58 dead.
In September, at least 78 were killed and over 120 wounded in a suicide bombing targeting a church in Pakistan.
In October, it was reported that gunmen fired upon a Christian wedding in a suburb of Cairo, Egypt.
On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that rebel shelling has “increasingly hit several majority-Christian districts” in Damascus along with other predominantly Christian towns in Syria.
The increasingly frequent rebel attacks on areas heavily populated by Christians have “fueled fears among Syria’s religious minorities about the growing role of Islamic extremists and foreign fighters among the rebels fighting against President Bashar Assad’s rule,” according to the Post.
Gregorios III Laham, the Melkite Greek Catholic patriarch of Antioch and all the East, estimated that over 450,000 of the 1.75-2 million Christians in Syria have fled their homes since 2011, according to the Christian Post.
Both Laham and Alnemeh have called for help.
“As Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, fell under the weight of the Holy Cross, Simon of Cyrene was fetched to help. We too need a Simon to help bear our cross,” Laham said.
Up until two years ago, Laham said that his country Syria was “a beacon of hope for Christians in the Middle East.” He said it acted as a sanctuary for Christians fleeing persecution in neighboring Iraq. But now both the Iraqis and native Syrians are facing massive persecution.
“We have shouted aid to the world but no one has listened to us. Where is the Christian conscience? Where is human consciousness? Where are my brothers? I think of all those who are suffering today in mourning and discomfort: We ask everyone to pray for us,” Alnemeh said.
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