Egypt's churches are burning, but Christianity will not be extinguished
And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:Egypt's military junta have cracked down on the Islamist supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi: some 327 are reported to have been killed; almost 3000 injured. A month-long state of emergency has been declared and curfews imposed in Cairo and other Egyptian cities. The carnage has been condemned by the UN Secretary General, along with the world's presidents, prime ministers, secretaries of state and the EU's Cathy Ashton.
And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour (Exod 1:13f).
But instead of retaliating against the military, Muslim Brotherhood members have decided to attack the Christians, just as they do in all Muslim-majority countries. They're going for the Copts, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Baptists - it doesn't really matter. Churches and monasteries have been torched and burned to the ground. Tragically, they include the Church of the Virgin Mary in Minya, Upper Egypt, which dates back to the fourth century - the time of Arius.
And so, once again, we see the Pharaoh of the Nile characteristically determined to assert his totalism; brutally enacting the nightmare of eradication after years of confiscation, exploitation and persecution. The cost extends beyond its human toll to the savage abuse of the environment. And one Exodus naturally leads to another, as we have seen throughout the Middle East. Wherever Islam is the dominant faith, there is no tolerance of other faiths. It is estimated that between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left the region or been killed over the past century. We are on the cusp of Christianity disappearing from its biblical heartlands.
The social pain is unbearable: as it was for the Israelites under Pharaoh, so is it now for the Egypt's Christians. There is defiance, but also fear. There is resistance to abusive totalism, but it comes at an appalling cost. Moses is the embodiment of the implied obligation of resistance in the face of oppressive overlords and brutalising authority.
And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage (Exod 2:23).Their cry was not addressed to YHWH: it is a raw political act of giving voice to the irreducible political datum of suffering at the hands of a coercive power. The cry is not a theological act; it simply rose up to God. The politics of protest ascends to heaven. In their crying, Israel had no transcendent assurance of deliverance or salvation. Rather, they were heard by the One who draws their pain to His own self, not because of who Israel is, but because of who YHWH is.
How much more does Christ hear and listen to the suffering and pain of those who love Him! He is not hovering aloof in remote holiness: He is among the Copts, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Baptists below, mobilising a revolutionary transformative energy against the abusive powers. In their wretchedness and bondage of grief, let us remember our brothers and sisters. And let us pray for a Moses, a political figure to advocate on behalf of the oppressed and confront the successors of Pharaoh, for a holy response to pain requires a bold human initiative.