This year, in light of our recent partnership with Open Doors, we are taking some time to try and look at Easter through the eyes of the persecuted church.
At Easter we remember the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, that He went through so that we can have relationship with God through Him. There are Christians in many countries who are persecuted daily for their faith, they are suffering and some are being killed because they believe in what Jesus did for them. We’re not comparing the suffering of persecuted Christians today to the suffering and death that Jesus went through, because He experienced the worst suffering, and death of the most horrendous kind, but we do want to draw out some of the parallels and comparisons.
Here is a reflection Lynda Hadley wrote for us:
Apart from Canaan, Egypt is one of the most commonly mentioned places in the Bible. It features significantly in the stories of Joseph and Moses; playing an important role in the journey of the Israelites. A number of people, including Jesus, fled to Egypt to escape hardship.
However, today Egypt is number 16 on the Open Doors World watch list, meaning that the level of persecution towards Christians is very high. Egyptian Christians are often victims of social exclusion, and face constant discrimination in areas such as justice, education and basic social services. In rural areas, Christian women have been targeted for abduction and forced marriage. Believers from Muslim backgrounds face pressure from their families and communities – they may be beaten or expelled from their homes.
And yet, even in the face of terrible violence, Christians in Egypt have shown incredible grace and forgiveness – Coptic Christians were even nominated for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for their refusal to retaliate.
It is a tradition that Christians tattoo a cross symbol on their wrist to show their identity in Christ. This is usually the Coptic cross which has four equal sides. Despite knowing that this symbol will cause them difficulties in their community, they are proud to show their tattoo.
“For me, the cross is a symbol of strength and redemption. It is a great blessing. When I look at the cross on my wrist I remember the passion of Christ. I feel tranquility and peace. Many people become angry and treat me badly when they see the cross tattoo on my hand. I don’t feel any pain or anger when they do that, I pray to God and He comforts me and gives me joy. No matter how we are oppressed, Jesus is with us.” – Sabah
In the lead up to Easter, let’s remember the great gift of redemption that God has given us through Jesus. Let us not be ashamed of our faith but proudly display it despite what it might cost us. And let us pray that God will give us unfathomable joy as we trust in Him in all circumstances.
A prayer for Egypt:
Lord Jesus, thank You for the steadfast faith of our brothers and sisters in Egypt. May they know how much they are loved and valued in Your sight. Bring home the women and girls who have been abducted and restore them to their families and communities. Please change the hearts of those who wage war against Your people and reveal to them Your great love and mercy.