I spent half of this past July working in and around Cairo, Egypt. With the exception of a few days of rest and sightseeing (The Great Pyramid is truly “great”), my task was to equip Egyptian Christians in theology and apologetics.
While in Cairo, I was able to rekindle friendships with many Egyptians I met last year while working in Beirut, Lebanon. I also gained insight into the unique challenges our brothers and sisters face in the Middle East.
Egypt recently elected a new President, Mohammed Moursi, after their revolution in 2011. But because he’s backed by the devout Islamic group, the Muslim Brotherhood, many Egyptian believers are bracing for harsher treatment of Christians.
In addition to the political problems, Egyptian believers face challenges commonly found in the United States like relativism, homosexuality, abortion, skepticism about God, and the problem of evil. One of the reasons I was invited to Cairo was to address these concerns.
Of the two weeks I was there, ten days were spent teaching. Some days I taught five sessions. I was extremely busy. But it was a privilege to serve Arab Christians in a country with as rich a history and culture as Egypt.
I want to highlight three events:
- High school camp: I spoke three days at a camp for high school students and young adults in the outskirts of Cairo. According to church leaders, the revolution in Egypt and destabilization of the country has shaken many Christians. Young believers are questioning God and have grown skeptical of their faith. I was invited to address their questions through open forum discussions and formal lectures on evolution, intelligent design, the trustworthiness of the Bible, the problem of evil, tactics in defending the faith, and biblical interpretation.
- Homosexuality conference: Although the topic of homosexuality is taboo, homosexual behavior is still prevalent in Egypt. Egyptian church leaders have routinely requested training on the topic. That led Focus on the Family’s Middle East Division to invite me to speak at a one-day conference. Ninety church and youth leaders from the Coptic Orthodox Church, as well as various protestant denominations, were present. Even though homosexuality presents similar challenges both in America and Egypt, the Arab culture presents an additional cause of its expression. Many church leaders I spoke to explained that gender segregation in Egypt leads men to sexually experiment with other males. Some leaders who recently came from Saudi Arabia said homosexual acts are even more prevalent in that country because gender segregation rules are stricter there.
- Christian Mind Institute: The last four days of my time in Egypt were spent training future church leaders. These college graduates and young adults were enrolled in a 40-day intensive summer institute that’s spent at two locations: Egypt and Lebanon. During the institute, they attend lectures in politics, spiritual formation, theology, and apologetics, and are expected to read selected parts of 18 books. My contribution included training on intelligent design, abortion, homosexuality, witnessing to Muslims, the nature of truth, relativism, and the notions of tolerance and intolerance.
The two weeks in Egypt were strategically significant for two reasons. First, I was able to reconnect and encourage the Egyptian believers I met last year in Lebanon. Second, this was highly leveraged training. I was able to train pastors, priests, and church leaders who will be able to take these principles back to their congregations.
I've assembled a short (less than two minutes) video showing some of the people I spoke to and the sights I saw.