Introduction / History Ancient Egypt was one of the world's great civilizations. Dynasties of pharaohs ruled Egypt from 3200 B.C. to 341 B.C.. Egypt fell to the Persian Arab Muslim conquest in 640 A.D. Arabs, who introduced Islam and the Arabic language to Egypt in the seventh century, ruled for the next six centuries. Ottoman Turks conquered the country in 1517.
After the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became an important transportation hub, but fell heavily into debt. To protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt from 1882 until 1914. Full sovereignty was granted after World War II.
Egypt is the most rapidly growing country in the Arab world, and with limited arable land, resources are overtaxed and society stressed.
What are their lives like? Egypt is a desert country with hot, dry summers and moderate winters. Dust and sand storms occur, especially in the spring.
For hundreds of years, the Egyptian life and culture have undergone very little change. Egyptian Arabs are known for their music, which is popular in many Arab countries. Arab men enjoy bargaining with foreigners, and tourism is a profitable industry. Other main sources of income are oil and Suez Canal dues. One-third of the people are living below the poverty level.
The Nile River floods regularly and allows for rich agricultural products to thrive. Cotton, rice, corn, wheat, fruits, and vegetables are produced. Cattle, water buffalo, sheep, and goats are raised. Twenty-nine percent of Egypt's population are engaged in agriculture, the rest in industry, and services.
Cairo is the center of Islamic publications and learning. Urban populations in Egypt are swelling, resulting in masses of unemployed young men. This makes fertile soil for Islamic militant groups to flourish. Under Anwar Sadat's leadership, Egypt was the first Arab state to seek a peace treaty with Israel, and for that he was assassinated.
A child's name is carefully thought out. Children with Muslim names are automatically enrolled in Islamic classes. Children given Christian names increase the risk of discrimination.
What are their beliefs? Islam became the state religion in 1980. The majority of Egyptian Arabs are either Shafi, Maliki or Hanafi Sunni Muslim. The constitution of Egypt states the right to freedom of beliefs and the practice of religious rites. However, in reality, this is not the case.
Coptic Christians brought Christianity to Egypt very early, where it remained for a 1000 years as the primary religion. Even today, the great majority of the Christian population are still members of the Coptic Church. Evangelical Christians are a small percent and often experience persecution.
What are their needs? It is difficult for an Egyptian Arab to find a job after converting to Christianity. When an Egyptian citizen applies for a job, he must present an identity card on which is listed whether he is Christian or Muslim. Arabs trying to change their religion from Muslim to Christian have been arrested on charges of falsifying documents.
In 1856, a decree was made by the Ottoman Empire requiring non-Muslims to get a presidential order to build, repair, or remodel a place of worship. In 1934, an additional law was added, stating that a church could not be built within 100 meters of a mosque. It also required that none of the Muslim neighbors of the church object to its construction. Although this law has been amended, and churches can make repairs, it often takes years to gain the required permission to build a new church. During that time, if a mosque is built near the property, construction will be halted. This can be very discouraging to believers.
The missionary vision of the Egyptian Church is growing, but they are limited by lack of training opportunities, experience, and funds. If additional resources can be provided, church planters are willing to go!
Prayer Points * Pray for an increase in finances and the ability to provide Bibles for Egyptian Arabs.
* Pray for favor for new churches getting registered.
* Pray that Egyptian Christians would become a mighty missionary movement to other Arab nations.