God uses humble means

I'm reading Samuel Tadros' new book Motherland Lost, a history of the church in Egypt. He starts at the beginning when the evangelist Mark showed up in Alexandria and tells a wonderful story about Mark's first convert.After he wandered all day in the majestic city, the apostle's sandal strap broke. Mark found a shoemaker who could repair it. His name was Anianus.While he was working, Anianus gouged his hand. "God is one!" he swore.Mark was moved with compassion. In a maneuver … [Read more...]

Egyptian Christians weather ‘climate of impunity’

Christians in Egypt suffer amid a "climate of impunity," according to the U.S. State Department's newly released International Religious Freedom Report.Despite word of positive developments -- including prosecution for the murder of a Coptic man and occasionally increased police security for threatened Copts -- the meager gains hardly diminish the unimaginable threats regularly faced by believers in one of the world's oldest bodies of Christians."While recognized and unrecognized … [Read more...]

What’s with all the Christian tattoos? Am I missing out?

I used to want a tattoo. That was more than twenty years ago, back in high school when only the brave and cool and rebellious people got tattoos.Back then a neck tat meant you were hardcore. Today it means you're a 19-year-old sorority girl.I never did get the tattoo. I couldn't make up my mind what I wanted to permanently etch on my epidermal canvas. Or what part of the canvas I would use. Something public? Or something I could cover up so my boss didn't think I was secretly the chief … [Read more...]

Egyptian Christians seek unity amid strife

While Egyptian Christians face ongoing strife in their Muslim-majority nation, there are signs of encouragement as leaders of five different Christian groups begin meeting for the first time to forge a way forward together.Evangelical, Anglican, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Coptic Orthodox leaders met Monday in Cairo for the first gathering of the United Council of Egyptian Churches. Coptic Pope Tawadros II led the group, which was the dream of his predecessor, the late Pope Shenouda III, … [Read more...]

Despite dangers, Middle East Christians express hope

The position of Christians in the Middle East appears today more tenuous than ever."[T]here is now a serious risk that Christianity will disappear from its biblical heartlands," said Rupert Shortt in a recent report for the British think tank Civitas, citing estimates that "between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the region have left or been killed over the past century."Shortt's report, entitled Christianophobia (PDF here), does not hold Christians blameless for some of the grief … [Read more...]

Islamist constitution spells trouble for Egypt’s Christians

Egypt has approved a new, pro-Islamist constitution, and while Christians prepare to celebrate the Nativity of Christ they and other minorities foresee bleak and repressive days ahead.Voter turnout in the two-stage nationwide referendum was reportedly limited, and Christians were particularly underrepresented, "as low as 7% in some areas," according to one report.Intimidation by Islamists kept many from the polls. In one instance, an estimated 50,000 pro-constitution marchers swept through … [Read more...]

Pray for Egypt’s Christians

Egyptians will vote on a new constitution tomorrow.Newly enthroned Pope Tawadros II has so far sought to keep the church disentangled from politics, though he is encouraging his flock to "go and vote."Coptic Christians, who make up only 10 percent of the Egyptian population, are understandably fearful the outcome. The new pro-Islamist government has little regard for religious freedoms, and opposition groups believe the new constitution will further enshrine discriminatory … [Read more...]