Prayer, amid Egypt's upheaval, called 'precipice of opportunity'
CAIRO (BP) -- The day after Mohamed Morsi was deposed as Egypt's first democratically elected president, the country's streets once again filled with millions of Egyptians exercising their right to protest.
Now, violent and deadly demonstrations continue both in support of the ousted leader and in opposition. Since the military took control, the number of deaths associated with the protests was approaching 100 as of July 8 while more than 1,000 had been injured.
Morsi served as Egypt's head of state only one year -- elected June 30, 2012, and deposed on July 3.
Although uncertainty remains, Egyptians continue to observe the unfolding events with hope. Dr. M. Ibrahim*, an American-Egyptian Christian, considers the news "amazing," saying this "has never happened before."
Ibrahim moved to America with his family after growing up in Egypt and serving in the Egyptian army. He lived through the persecution of Christians in Egypt for many years.
For Egyptians to rise up and be seen fighting for secular rule is unbelievable to Ibrahim. "We have never heard of this," he said.
As he watched the news unfold on July 3, Ibrahim texted his wife saying, "Now we can go home and visit Egypt freely without having to be afraid."
"My family in Egypt are all so excited," he said in an interview, "but they are cautiously optimistic."
Ramez Atallah, the general secretary of the Bible Society of Egypt, said in an article on Beliefnet.com, "We are on the precipice of opportunity, and feel that there is an incredible spiritual gap that must be filled.
"Our urgent desire is for the Word of God to speak," Atallah said. "We cannot fail to seize this opportunity to share the relevance of God's Word during this momentous time in Egypt's history."
Mike Turner*, a Christian worker in northern Africa, agreed. "We have to believe that God can do an amazing thing across all of Egypt. In these changing days, the history books are being rewritten by the hour. I hope that God's people will respond in greater number."
While Egyptians went to the streets to address their political circumstances, the prayer of Christians around the world is that the Gospel will reach the masses during this time of rapid change, Turner said.
"If a geo-political scenario can play out like this and have enormous ramifications for all of Egypt," he said, "the Holy Spirit can do the same thing in the lives of many."
As people watch the news from Egypt, Turner asks that they stop and pray where they are "that the Kingdom [of God] will come in that place as it is in heaven."
"God will use those situations, when it looks like it's bleak and there is no positive or desirable outcome on the news. God has a different plan," Turner said. "Make it your call to pray."
A senior International Mission Board global strategist said, "Watching events unfold for Egyptians draws you to prayer. Pray for peace in the moment, but also pray for a future where many will one day know the Prince of Peace."
Egyptians are desperate and willing to put everything "on hold" for weeks at a time to express what they think might solve their problems, said Rye Martins*, a Christian worker in Egypt. "But we know that it's not" the ultimate solution. The solution is Christ, he said.
"Our hope is that every mention of Egypt on the news will be a trigger for prayer," Martins said.
"God can do it. He is capable of doing it, at His own time," Ibrahim said. "He is always doing something big, sometimes we realize it and know it, sometimes we don't -- but He never lets His people down."
Missions leaders suggest that, for some Christians, they consider responding by going to Egypt to share the hope of Jesus Christ in a season of unprecedented opportunity.
For others, prayer is urged:
-- For the new government that will emerge in Egypt.
-- For Christians to be bold and not hesitate to share the Gospel in this moment in history.
-- For the elections that Adly Mahmud Mansour, interim head of state, has promised to hold soon.
-- For Christians in Egypt to have wisdom and creativity in sharing the Gospel message.
*Names changed for security purposes. Eden Nelson is a writer for the International Mission Board based in the Middle East. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).