The Middle East - Spotlight on Egypt
New Muslims Converts Discipled Using DPM Book
God is doing a special work in the hearts and lives of many people in Egypt. A significant number have come to faith in Jesus from a Muslim background. During the last year God has opened up new doors of opportunity. We have been able to accelerate the printing and distribution of Derek's Arabic books, in Egypt and to the Arab nations beyond.
After years of our work in Egypt being dormant, we began to receive calls and letters from various sources saying how much need there was for the availability of Derek’s material to be greatly increased. Other circumstances also confirmed that it was indeed God’s timing for DPM to re-launch its activity in this nation. At the end of last year we were able to print ten Arabic titles totalling 70,000 books in Cairo, including The Foundation Series and the Self Study Bible Course. During the last eight months, nearly 50,000 of those books have been distributed. As the quotes above testify, they have been so gratefully welcomed. In order to keep pace with the hunger and demand for these anointed materials, we are now needing to consider printing more than 200,000 books in the next six months. This volume of printing and activity is unprecedented in the history of our work within the Arab world.
We trust that as you read this report on our work in Egypt and the Middle East, you will be both excited and inspired.
New doors of opportunity in the land of the Pyramids
Cairo Book Fair
Eight months ago in January 2004, Egypt hosted its annual book fair in Cairo, the largest literary event in the Arab and Muslim world. It attracts millions of people from many nations and includes books from all over the Arab world.
A number of Christian groups and denominations exhibit at the fair, and they all decided to make The Divine Exchange their single outreach tool for this important event.
Our friends have told us:
“Most of the Christian ministries had decided not to distribute any kind of evangelistic material this year because of security restrictions. But they changed their mind when they saw The Divine Exchange. They were encouraged because the content is so strong, as a message to people from both Christian and Muslim backgrounds.”
7,500 copies of The Divine Exchange were given out during the book fair. We praise God that, unlike previous years, there were no problems from the security police, towards those distributing the books.
Because satellite dishes are so widespread in the region, television presents a unique way of bypassing the strict border controls of Muslim countries hostile to the Gospel. It is able to reach directly into the homes of people who are denied, by their government, the opportunity of easily hearing the Good News.
We are working together with an Arabic Christian channel. Its viewers are regularly encouraged by one of the presenters, to write to the channel, and receive a free copy of The Divine Exchange.
Our co-workers have told us:
“We sent a large quantity of the books to the TV station and they will distribute it by mail to their viewers from many different countries. This is a very wide door and God is going to use these materials in a mighty way.”
Distribution on the Streets
You may have heard reports in the Christian media that Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of The Christ, has been shown widely across the Muslim world. This is the case in Egypt and it seems to have stirred in people a genuine desire to find out more about Jesus. This led to another exciting project using The Divine Exchange. In some places the book is actually given out on the streets and in shopping malls, as the film is shown in the cinemas.
It is also been put into a package together with the Arabic Bible, the JESUS film and Why Jesus? by Nicky Gumbel. It is being sold at a subsidised, affordable price from newspaper stands on the street. Talks are also in progress with the largest supermarket chain in Egypt, that may result in this same package of material being openly sold in all of their stores.
Hit-man Gets Saved
During a recent trip to Egypt, Neil Cornick travelled by train to a large city that is home to several million people. He had been invited to take study materials and visit a number of different cell groups that were discipling converts from Islam. He writes:
I was accompanied by our Egyptian representative and we were laden with cases and bags containing copies of our newly printed Arabic Self Study Bible Course, Foundation Series and The Divine Exchange. It was such a joy to visit these groups of new believers, and witness first-hand their desire to understand the Bible, and to grow in their faith. They were so appreciative to receive the Derek Prince books I had brought with me. I felt it such a privilege to be able join with them, as they began to work through the Self Study Bible Course.
Over the past few years a sovereign work of God has been taking place in this city among people from a Muslim background. During my three days there, I was able to spend time with the leader of this network of Muslim-background believers. During the course of our conversations, it became clear that this humble man, who we’ll aptly label ‘the fisherman’, is being used mightily to evangelise Muslims.
"Over a period of years, as a result of tireless personal evangelism in taxis, shops, cafes and even on the internet, he has seen many hundreds of Muslims come to faith in Jesus Christ and have their lives radically transformed. So effective is he in sharing his faith, that in addition to being regularly watched and followed by the security police, militant Islamic groups have even attempted to have him assassinated. He told me that one day an Islamic fundamentalist hit-man (with a proven track record!) had arrived at his place of work to kill him. The gunman confronted him, took aim and pulled the trigger. The gun however jammed and failed to fire. The weapon was dropped and the would-be assassin fled the scene. Then through a series of extraordinary and miraculous events ‘the fisherman’ and the gunman subsequently met, resulting in the hit-man himself coming to believe in Jesus. As a consequence this led to him being persecuted for his faith and having to leave Egypt. Now he is living in a free country and serving God in full-time ministry!”
We truly have a great God and no heart is too hard for His love to penetrate.
This network of Muslim-background believers gather in small groups so as not to appear conspicuous when meeting together. They meet in homes, or discreetly in public places like cafes. They often do not know the identity of any other believers beyond their own group, so that if they are arrested for questioning, the entire network is not put at risk. Derek Prince Ministries has been able to encourage and bless this mushrooming work in a small way-so far and we look forward to seeing this expand in the future, as we follow God’s leading.
The government in Egypt is ‘officially’ tolerant towards non-Muslims, mainly to appease the international community. In reality life is harsh for the Christian minority, who suffer harassment, intimidation and even violence from Islamic extremists and the state police.
All citizens must carry an identity card which states whether someone is Muslim or Christian. Whilst there are financial incentives for conversion from Christianity to Islam, and obtaining a new identity card is routine, the same cannot be said from Islam to Christianity. It is virtually impossible for a Muslim convert to obtain a replacement card to reflect their new religious status.
Usually converts suffer persecution from friends and close family. Those who are unmarried and are not able to flee their families, can become prisoners in their own homes, being prevented from mixing with anyone outside. Those that do escape leave everything behind and have to live secretly in a new location.
Where a husband and wife convert, it is not uncommon for them to flee for their lives, with their children to another city, leaving behind home, job and all their possessions. Once in hiding, the husband will find it difficult to support his family because employment requires the production of his identity card, which makes their whereabouts then traceable. The extended family may also try to kidnap the children thus forcing their mother or father to come out of hiding and face-almost certain death.
For fear of reprisals, existing believers in Egyptian churches often want no contact with their converted Muslim brothers or sisters in Christ. This leaves the network of Muslim-background believers feeling isolated and rejected by the Church, although the reasons for this are understood. As a consequence, the network members themselves struggle to provide the necessary finance to support the many people living in hiding.
Stories from the Persecuted
During my recent visit to Egypt, I met many converts from Islam and am able to share some of their testimonies with you. Please join us in praying for them.
“I found Jesus and shared my faith with my husband and four children, who also believed. However when my father-in-law discovered what was happening, he tried to trap us. We also found out that he had arranged to kidnap one of our sons so we have been forced to go into exile. We had to leave all our wealth behind and we live in fear of our lives.”- A prominent Islamic family now in hiding.
“God began to speak to me when I was thirteen. I then spent two years studying Islam and the basis of my faith, but I and was shocked at what I found. I began to search for truth in other religions. I asked my friends at school about their faith and to find materials about Jesus. In the beginning, this was not easy, but I found a Christian pastor who helped me study the Bible. I studied Christianity for two years then I became a believer in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately I have had to leave my family because I knew they would never accept me as a Christian. I had to go to another city. I have been baptised and become a new creation in Jesus.”- A girl of seventeen in hiding.
“I was the leader of a fundamentalist Islamic group and I was greatly respected, having power and influence. After I found Jesus I was taken to jail where I was tortured. I am now in hiding and ministering to others, serving the Lord as a full-time minister.” - A former leader in the Islamic faith.
“You need to understand that unlike many Christians, we believers from a Muslim background, take the Bible very seriously. We are not afraid of anything the government can do to us. When we believe in Jesus we expect persecution and are willing to accept this. But I worry about my two children, what will happen to them. When you face difficulty or persecution you discover in a very real way that Jesus is there for you every day. The Bible is not just theory, but you experience the power in God’s Word as you depend on Him.” -Converted Muslim man, imprisoned last year and tortured for his faith.
“When I was eighteen I found myself working alongside several Christians. I tried to ask them about their faith but they refused to share anything with me because they were afraid of persecution. In the end one of them told me the name of a Christian pastor who helped me to study the Word of God until I found Jesus for myself. My desire is to attend meetings, read the Bible and to pray but I am unable to do this at home. I cannot attend Christian meetings or conferences freely and I have been beaten because of my belief. I love the Lord very much and know He will make a way for me.” - Young woman persecuted for her faith.
“I could be described as a ‘thinker’. I spent ten years studying, trying to find Jesus. God began to reveal Himself and at the end of the ten years, I became convinced of the reality of Jesus. I spent one year studying the details of the Christian faith with a pastor and then I took the decision to follow Jesus with my whole heart. As a result my wife has divorced me and taken my money and property and I am living in a hostel, with a very poorly paid job. But my faith in God helps me to survive.”- Convert who has lost his home, his wife and living.
“I found Jesus and spent several years trying to evangelise my older sister. When my sister was convinced, she began to share with her two daughters and in the end her husband divorced her. We now live together and we are very active in the ministry. We love to share about God and bring others to know Jesus. We do have problems from my husband’s sister. He follows her and the children. We want him to know Jesus himself. Please pray for our situation and that my sister and I can find work.”- Thirty year-old woman.
Egypt - Material
We need £6,000 for the reprinting of The Divine Exchange.
£20,000 will enable the reprinting of the following titles: God’s Remedy For Rejection, The Holy Spirit In You, Spiritual Warfare, Does Your Tongue Need Healing, Fasting, Extravagant Love, God’s Plan For Your Money, Foundations, The Self-Study Bible Course, Blessing Or Curse: You Can Choose!, Fatherhood, and the first printing of They Shall Expel Demons.
Centre for Outreach to Muslims
£25,000 is needed to establish the Centre and then the subsequent running costs are £3,000 a month £1,500 a month will cover the rent, staffing and stocking of the Bookshop.
3 Practical Assistance for Muslim-Background Believers
£1,000 a month will assist 30 people with housing, food, clothing, medical care and other basic needs.
- Population: 76 million (Jul 2004 est.)
- Language: Arabic
- Capital: Cairo (with a population of 18 million, it is the largest city in both the Middle East and Africa)
- Major religions: Muslim 86%, Christian 13% (of which 12% belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church and less than 1% to a Protestant denomination)
- Cairo is home to Al-Azhur University, considered to be Sunni Islam’s foremost seat of learning and study.
Prayer and Intercession
- Please pray for those we have mentioned in this newsletter as well as other believers from Muslim background. Pray for their safety and that they will be able to evangelise their families.
- Pray for the workers who labour in this field.
- Pray for those who have yet to find Jesus and that we will be able to do our part in distributing Derek’s books to such needy people.
- Pray for the Christian Centre to become a reality and not just a dream. The project is a tool to reach the community. There is obviously a risk involved in the venture, so please pray for the leaders that they will have wisdom and discernment while working on the project.
Pray for the satellite TV broadcasts that these will continue without any interference from the authorities.