Unity. Prayer. Revival. Those were the themes of the Christian pastor from a church in Cairo, Egypt, while visiting a supporting Presbyterian congregation in the United States last week. He was making his first U.S. appearance following the forced removal of Mohammed Morsi as president of Egypt.
The pastor explained that the church’s vision of local and international ministry, has lead people to faith in Jesus Christ. He said over the past 15 years there has been a steadily growing movement of prayer within the Christian community in Cairo. During that time prayer services have grown in attendance from 600-800 to now between 1,800-2,000 on a regular basis, and they prayed for God to move in that nation. “It has been like a wave or a wind,” he said. The church leaders believe that prophesy found in Isaiah Chapter 19 is coming to pass:
Behold, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them … in that day … the Lord of hosts will shake them. … and the Lord will make Himself known to the Egyptians and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the Lord and perform them.
As a crowd of 100 area pastors, church elders, staff and students from a local Christian school listened raptly, and as several hundred more people gathered for worship that evening, this humble Egyptian Christian explained that a new spirit of prayer and Christian unity between the Coptic, Catholic and Protestant Evangelical communities in Egypt reached a crescendo on a crisp November night in 2011 as 45,000 believers gathered in the Cave Church to pray for the nation. Broadcast live throughout the Arab world, the assembly chanted “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” 260 times in a row, in a passionate display of unity and commitment. Prior to this time the Coptic, Catholic and Protestant Evangelical communities in Egypt had viewed each other with suspicion and rarely had acted in concert with one another but now they regularly work together seeking common revival.
The pastor turned attention away from the violence that fills Western media coverage of events in Egypt; assuring those gathered that wonderful things are happening as God moves in His mysterious ways throughout the Middle East.
He regarded the initial rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the parliamentary and presidential elections as a blessing in disguise. Had the Muslim Brotherhood not prevailed, they would still be pursuing a covert Islamist agenda. However, having assumed power, the entire Egyptian people could begin to see the corruption and self-interest that was present. The mass of the Egyptian people, overwhelmingly Muslim themselves, could not abide the changes sought by the Muslim Brotherhood. Those changes restricted the very freedoms and opportunities for which the Egyptian people had longed and for which they had sacrificed in the 2011 Revolution.
“Even though things are chaotic and scary, we are baptizing Muslims every day. People are searching,” he proclaimed.
As an example of revival, he cited the growth in his Cairo based church over the past two years. Membership has grown from 8,000 to 10,000 people, one-third of whom he said were new converts. Additionally, the church’s annual youth conference has grown from 4,000-5,000 attendees a few years ago to 30,000 in October 2012. Double that number are expected this year.
The pastor’s presentation was punctuated by several videos; one featured a New Year’s eve service. The sanctuary was packed with church members and the crowd grew so large that screens were set up outside in surrounding buildings and in the streets bordering Tahrir Square. The streets were packed with tens of thousands of Muslims listening intently and watching the screen as the Egyptian Christians prayed for their Muslim countrymen and thanked them for their efforts in the common struggle toward freedom.
Speaking about the recent removal of Morsi from office, the pastor said that it could not rightly be called a coup. Although the military intervened, it did so at the insistence of 30 million Egyptians, mostly Muslims, who wanted the Muslim Brotherhood removed from office. After being elected, Morsi had dissolved the Egyptian Supreme Court and Egyptian Parliament and had rewritten the Egyptian constitution with only Muslim Brotherhood input. Watching democracy being hijacked, the mass of the Egyptian people rose up. Beginning with a very small group of Christian students who formed an organization called “Rabaa” they began a petition drive that netted 25 million confirmed signatures demanding that Morsi relinquish office. Refusing to make even minimal concessions, the protest grew to 35 million, eventually forcing his ouster.
In the midst of great adversity, the Christian community in Egypt became united, fervent in prayer and saw revival. Looking to the future, the Egyptian pastor asked his western brothers and sisters to continue to pray for God to continue to work in Egypt and do great and mighty things in bringing people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.