by Laurent Trabadello, Regional Director of Latin America and West Africa
September, 2013—My memories are vivid. Driving at night through the busy streets of a Cairo neighborhood where Christians and Muslims have lived together from time immemorial, I look through the window. Women wearing long black robes and veils go about their errands, children play, and men gather at street corner cafÃ©s having animated conversations.
I’m trying to keep a low profile. My drivers warn me to be as discreet as possible and to refrain from speaking when I leave the vehicle. We finally come to a stop in a narrow street and I quickly enter a small shop to meet its Christian owner. He tells me what happened on that day—when a mob of extremists went through the streets setting businesses afire and threatening to kill the Christians. I listen intently, heart-broken by his account. I hear of a church being burned and of people being cornered in their apartments.
“We can rely on no one. Only God can protect us,” cried his wife.
That was in the summer of 2011. Samaritan’s Purse had responded to a wave of persecution against Egyptian Christians, providing them with resources to repair their lost businesses. Tension was high at the time, as the Muslim Brotherhood had recently gained power and many extremists felt entitled to threaten and attack the Christian minority.
Needless to say, when the events of August 14 started to trickle in, I was reminded of that night. Except that this was on a much grander scale.
In one day alone, more than 80 Christian churches, schools, and businesses across Egypt were viciously attacked and burned by angry mobs of extremists. On that Wednesday night, as I was home in Canada reading reports on social media about the violence perpetrated against Christian institutions, I received a phone call from a dear friend in Egypt. He desperately wanted to speak about the anguish being experienced by many believers who feared for their lives. All I could do was listen.
The level of persecution experienced by Egyptian Christians in just one day was more severe than it had been in decades. I thanked my friend for his call, and promised to tell the story and call people to pray.
Please intercede on behalf of Egypt. Pray for peace to finally come—for a democratic alternative that will respect every citizen, regardless of his or her faith. Lift up the Egyptian church, one of the oldest expressions of Christianity; may they be salt and light in this tumultuous time. Pray for the protection of innocent life; may hatred and revenge find no place in people’s hearts. Pray that the light of Christ will shine brightly in this dark episode of Egypt’s history.
Samaritan’s Purse is looking for ways to respond. There are many who have lost their livelihoods as a consequence of these tragic events. Please join us as we work alongside our partners to help restore lives affected by this violence and hatred. “Blessed be Egypt, my people” (Isaiah 19:25a, NIV).
Help families in the Middle East who have been displaced as a result of violent conflict and religious persecution receive the physical and spiritual aid they so desperately need to cope with the resulting poverty and trauma.