- Reuters / Amr Dalsh
A massive four-day national prayer event is starting today, Oct. 26, in the desert north of Cairo, and is expected to draw 50,000 people from all over Egypt and reach around 5 to 6 million viewers with television coverage.
"What is happening in Egypt this month is truly awesome. In the midst of increased persecution, turmoil and uncertainty, Christians are reaching out to others and fervently praying 'in such a time as this.' Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ during this weekend event," said Jerry Dykstra, Media Relations Director for Open Doors USA.
A Christian contact in Egypt who was not identified but spoke with Open Doors, a nonprofit persecution watchdog, explained that the main theme of the event will be to show to Egyptian people how Christ can change lives.
"There is no doubt that God is moving in Egypt and showing Himself in mighty ways to many of His children, and to many who are seeking to know Him," the contact said. "The hunger to know about Jesus and to get to know more about the Christian faith is phenomenal."
He added, "These are, indeed, difficult times we live in today. With all the political, social, economic and religious challenges we have faced here in the last few months, all Egyptians are left with many uncertainties and concerns about the present and future.
"But we Christians of Egypt are realizing more and more every day that God is visiting our country with a powerful divine presence, and that the things He is going to do in our country are beyond imagination. This is what we pray for and this is what we are waiting in faith to see happening."
Religious freedom in Egypt in recent times has been a topic of debate, with newly elected president and Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi and his party greatly influencing the country's judiciary by implementing aspects of Islamic Sharia law. Coptic Christians, a distinct minority in Egypt, have said that they live in fear of persecution and uncertainty about the future. Events such as this prayer gathering, however, seek to give Christians hope and encouragement in times of trouble.
Open Door's Christian contact admitted that there were those who did not want to see the Christian prayer event take place, but the people were going to go through with it regardless of any opposition.
"Of course, the evangelistic festival is certainly an event that the enemy doesn't want to see happening. He will try to do whatever it takes to stop it, or at least distort the attention of people away from listening to the Good News," he said.
"We call on our brothers and sisters worldwide to join us in prayer, and to watch with us as we see thousands, and maybe millions of Egyptians, coming to Jesus."
Open Doors noted that earlier this month, a Christian youth festival had gathered 10,000 in the same area north of Cairo – showing that a large Christian gathering can indeed be held near Egypt's capital without it resulting in trouble and turmoil.