- (Photo: Reuters/Stringer)
The recent barrage of attacks on Christians in Egypt, including on members and churches of the nation's Coptic denomination, are of a scale unseen in modern times and being described as satanic, according to sources living in the country. The persecution watchdog group, Open Doors USA, says Egypt is engulfed in a furnace of fire and Christians are taking on the brunt force of the attacks.
"The attack against the Christians of Egypt is nothing less than a furious satanic attack that aims at terrorizing Christians, imprisoning them at their homes helplessly with no guarantee of protection so their love, peace, hope and testimony may be neutralized," stated an anonymous Christian leader, whose name is being withheld for security reasons, in a commentary obtained by The Christian Post.
"We, Christians of Egypt, are facing a severe time of persecution and suffering that we may have not witnessed since the Roman times!" the source explained.
Thursday evening, the overall picture coming out of Egypt from news reports was dire. Egypt's health ministry said that at least 580 people were killed and more than 4,000 injured amidst clashes involving security forces and former President Mohammad Morsi supporters.
Also, some news outlets are reporting that as many as 52 Coptic churches in Egypt have been attacked and some destroyed. Among those churches, the 67-year-old Virgin Mary Church in the Giza province village of Hafr Hakim was torched and looted by protesters, who the night before, chanted against Coptic Christians and called for Egypt to become an "Islamic state," according to CNN.
Much of the most recent violence including killings began when the Egyptian military began clearing out the camps of protesters, unhappy with the ousting of Morsi.
"In all of this mess, the loss of church buildings great, but not to be compared with the loss of the many souls, the pains of the wounds and the fear and anxiety that have filled the hearts of all that can yet happen in Egypt today and the days to come," the source provided by Open Doors, a persecution watchdog, stated. "Buildings can eventually be re-built, but when lost, souls can never be restored."
The Christian leader also stated that the murder last week of the 10-year-old girl, Jessica Boulos, as she was walking back home from her Bible study class at one of Cairo's evangelical churches "by a fanatic Muslim gunman is unbearable and continues to throw it's shadows of pain on her broken family and the entire Christian community of Egypt."
The Christian leader living in Egypt also reported, "Fanatic Muslim supporters of Muslim Brotherhood, armed with all sorts of weapons from machine guns to Molotov bottles have found attacking the peaceful Christians and burning down their churches, shops and houses as an easy way not only to show their dominion on ground, but also to punish multitudes of Christians for standing against the policies of former president Morsi and his fallen regime."
He adds, "In Minya, groups of armed MB supporters landed into a village street and spent the entire evening setting up fire in one Christian shop/house after another until they were done. No police or army forces were present; no one was there to offer help or provide protection."
Open Doors USA spokesperson Jerry Dykstra said, "Egypt is engulfed in a furnace of fire which continues to burn. Christians are taking the brunt force of the attacks since they are seen by the Muslim Brotherhood supporters as helping take down Mohammad Morsi as president six weeks ago. Christian churches, homes, shops, book stores, schools and pharmacies have been looted, burned down and destroyed. Christians have been killed on the streets."
Dykstra adds, "Please pray for Egypt...for boldness for Christians, perseverance and protection and of course for peace."
Despite the horrific violence against them, leaders such as the Open Doors source are calling for Christians to model Christ in Egypt.
"We, Christians of Egypt, need to stay focused and follow the model of our Master, Lord Jesus Christ, who when beaten and slashed did not show any hatred for His persecutors," the leader writes, "He only showed love and asked for forgiveness for them. It sounds to heavenly and far away from human reach, yet, God promised that in times of persecution He would give us strength and comfort our hearts."
He writes that a Christian he knows living near one of the Muslim Brotherhood camps where they have been demonstrating over the last several weeks told him that after the protesters were asked to leave their location, he went to check on his apartment that he had deserted 45 days ago.
"Walking through the neighborhood, he saw many confused and misled men and women who were talking about the assumed victory of the Muslim Brotherhood over the 'enemy' and among themselves, they were praising their leadership. [The Christian] said:
"'I tried hard to hate them. They are, at the end, burning my entire country
down with ignorant and brainwashed minds. But, I found myself moved by
a divine power to go into the shop owned by a Muslim brotherhood man,
located at my building; buy several boxes of water bottles and falling in tears
as I moved from one man to another; one woman to another handing out free
bottles of water to everyone who came in my way. They are people who need
the love of Christ after all."
The Christian leader from Egypt adds, "Please pray for boldness, perseverance and protection for the Christians and for peace to come back to Egypt."