EDITORIAL: Finding new faith in Egypt
As Americans, we identify with the huddled masses yearning for freedom and a political voice in this ancient land. We see encouraging calls for reform in nearby nations, including Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya.
At the same time, we fear that Islamic groups hostile to Christianity will fill the power vacuums in these countries. We pray for religious tolerance as new governments emerge.
Throughout the Bible, Egypt serves as a symbol of refuge, oppression and liberation. In Genesis, Joseph arrives in the ancient kingdom through a series of misdeeds by his brothers. God turns Joseph’s misfortune into triumph, and Egypt plays a pivotal role in saving God’s people from famine.
Then a king “who did not know Joseph” arose and turned them into slaves. God sent Moses to lead his people from bondage toward a Promised Land.
In Matthew’s gospel, Egypt once again is a land of refuge. Joseph and Mary escape to Egypt with a young Messiah, fleeing from a vengeful King Herod. The words of the prophet Hosea were fulfilled: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Our prayerful desire is that the new government in Egypt will know Joseph — and recognize the nation’s Christian heritage. We urge Muslim majorities across the nations of the Middle East to recognize that their homeland is the not the enemy of Christianity — it is the birthplace of Christianity.
At the same time, we in the U.S. must transform our understanding of Egypt and the Muslim world. So many of us are concerned about oil and military alliances when our primary concern must be for the spiritual wellbeing of souls in the Middle East.
The “faith factor” must trump the “fear factor” as we reach out to lost souls in the Middle East, said Evertt Huffard, a former missionary in the hometown of Jesus, Nazareth.
“If we really understand that the kingdom is not of this world, then fear should not be a factor in our politics — or our mission in the world,” he said.
Regardless of how the politics of Egypt change in coming weeks, we must be ready to seize this opportunity for the cause of Christ.
The revolution in Cairo shows clearly the power of social media. Cell phones and Facebook played vital roles in connecting and organizing people who were hungry for change.
We can reach out to souls in the Middle East without leaving our homes. World Bible School, World English Institute and NationsUniversity are among the church-supported ministries that have made inroads into the Arab world. These ministries deserve our support.
Though technology is important, our best social networking tool for change is prayer.
James 5:16 tells us that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
From our pulpits, we pray for our nation to weather the current financial storm. We also should pray fervently that the Lord’s will be done in the Middle East, that those who profess Christ may emerge from the shadows.
May the Gospel once again find fertile soil in the desert. May the birthplace of our faith become more than a symbol of Christian history.
May sons of God again be called out of Egypt.