God uses humble means

I'm reading Samuel Tadros' new book Motherland Lost, a history of the church in Egypt.┬áHe 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...]

God can handle your anger–and your confusion, fear and doubt, too

An Egyptian court last week sentenced an author to five years in prison. His crime? Insulting religion. He penned a book entitled Where is God? which some Muslims deemed offensive.Egyptian law, according to one report, "gives all Muslims the right to file lawsuits in cases where an exalted right of God has been violated." But maybe God can take it. At least that's what Ian Punnett argues in his new book How to Pray When You're Pissed at God, a title that might spark similar offense in some … [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...]

Egypt intensifies crackdown on Christians, dissidents

A Christian schoolteacher in Egypt has been detained by authorities for allegedly insulting Islam and Muhammad. Demyana Emad is twenty-three and teaches social studies at the Sheik Sultan Primary School in Luxor. She denies the charge and claims extremists urged students to falsely accuse her.The allegation is troubling. Last year another Christian teacher, Bishoy Kamel, was sentenced to six years in prison on similar charges, including insulting Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. Covering … [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...]