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Witness and resilience in Egypt

Two days after the "Black Wednesday" arson attacks on Christian churches, Bible bookstores, orphanages and homes in Upper Egypt, the Evangelical Church in Millawi was hit by radical Islamists. Its prominent location, beauty, size, and community stature made it a target. Standing since 1887, the roof was made of wood and went up in flames quickly. When the tower with their bell collapsed, the members were locked in their homes, but they still heard and felt the tremor blocks away. The clear response to these attacks by Pope Tawadros, the symbolic religious leader of all Egyptian Christians, Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants: “These churches are just buildings. We are the true church. Whatever churches that were burned are our offerings up to God, and a small ransom to pay to get our Egypt safely back free from terror and violence.”

Reportedly one of the main purposes of all that targeted destruction by Islamic fundamentalists was to incite the Christians to fight back…to start a civil war that would put the Muslim Brotherhood in a position to come to the rescue. But it didn’t happen. There was no fighting back. There was no eye for an eye…no tooth for a tooth. It was as if the biggest, meanest bully on the playground smacked that wiry kid with the glasses in the face and the victim, the Christian population, just stood up with his bloody nose and his broken glasses and stared back at the bully. No raised fists. No running away. No whining about the overwhelmed or incompetent police force. Not…..a……sound.

The lay leadership are looking ahead to their church being “a lighthouse” in Millawi. They are already looking beyond their immediate financial challenges.  They are on the lookout for people to come and teach in their training center so they can engage their whole city as evangelists. They want school busses to transport children and youth from nearby villages to Sunday School and youth meetings. They aren’t waiting for a pastor to convene a visioning meeting.—Rev. S. Gorman, Cairo

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