By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
BOWIE, Md.—Barbara Davis, a missions leader in Alexandria, Egypt, asks Christians to continually pray over the unfolding situation in Egypt.
Davis, a missions director at New Song Bible Fellowship Church in Bowie, Md., and founder of the nonprofit Practical Living Institute, which seeks to improve the lives of the disenfranchised both domestically and internationally, has devoted her last year in the Muslim-dominated country.
In the Mediterranean city, she has provided Sudanese women refugees and disenfranchised Egyptian women with spiritual guidance and training for developing sustainable living skills.
She was scheduled to return to Alexandria in January to continue the ministry when Egypt erupted into civil unrest centered on calls for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to leave office.
Anti-government protesters gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and outside the Egyptian government buildings and held demonstrations in other cities to demand the departure of Mubarak.
Now that Mubarak has resigned, the atmosphere remains tense and uncertain, prompting Davis to ask for prayer.
“Yes, we must continue to pray for Egypt. I have been in contact with several different families during this time, and they are all very, very concerned about the outcome of all of this violence,” shared Davis, noting that the demonstrations particularly caused concern for the Sudanese refugees.
“It’s just unbelievable,” she said, explaining that the Sudanese were afraid to go to the streets out of fear that some Egyptians would blame them for the unstable economy.
“I feel so bad for our Sudanese friends because they left the violence of Sudan only to be caught up in this,” Davis said, noting that ironically, the Sudan has now “quieted down.”
Further describing the scene, which has affected both the Sudanese and Egyptians, Davis said, “The people are running out of money because the banks had been closed and a lot of the ATM machines have been damaged. The government had cut off all cell phones and internet services for a period of time.”
Davis explained that communities have organized watch-care groups to protect their homes from being vandalized. Men have taken on four-hour and eight-hour shifts to protect their families, homes and businesses from the violent hoodlums or “thugs” who roam the streets.
“In addition, some of our women have been unable to find bread and other items. They are becoming very frustrated and fearful,” she said.
Down the street from Davis’ office, a market allows no more than 10 people at a time into their store. A person is allowed to enter only after they have been checked through security. There is a limit to what they can purchase.
Nora Milad, an Egyptian woman who works with Davis, described her own fear: “We didn’t leave our house for over five days. Only my father and my brother would go to the markets to get more food—and even then, it was before the curfew.”
Milad and her family were already shaken by earlier violence at a church near their home. On New Year’s Eve, a Coptic Christian church was bombed, and more than 20 people were killed with dozens more being injured.
A few weeks later, an Egyptian police officer killed a 71-year-old Christian and wounded five other people in a shooting on a train travelling between southern Egypt and the capital Cairo.
Many of Milad’s family expressed concern that the Egyptian government refused to respond to either events and to the growing persecution.
“We feel that Christians are being ignored,” said Milad, whose sister admitted that even though her husband assures her that to die for Jesus is not a terrible thing, she is afraid for her infant son.
“I just love him so much,” she said.
There is growing concern that Christians in Egypt may face even more persecution.
The Washington Post reported that the populist uprising in Egypt has triggered fears among some that the region’s 7 million Coptic Christians could be at risk.
“So far, the protests have focused on jobs, free speech and democratic elections, not religion, so it’s unclear what the end of Mubarak’s rule would mean for religious minorities,” wrote Michelle Boorstein in the Washington Post on Feb. 4.
Her report focused on what has happened in Iraq, where in recent years, about half its historical Christian population has fled because of persecution, as well as in Iran and Lebanon, though in lesser numbers.
Even with all the strife, Davis is hopeful for Egypt. She believes that “God is up to something” and hopes that Christians in Egypt will use this occasion to share their faith with their Muslim brothers who are seeking freedom from government oppression.
“Christians know where their ultimate freedom comes from,” she said, adding, “We don’t know how God will use this situation.”
She points to Jeremiah 29:7, which urges prayer for the city: “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
“Please ask all to pray for the peace in Egypt for we know that God is sovereign and maybe through this situation He will draw many people to Himself,” she said.