We asked Samuel, a father of four and shop owner, what Christmas means to him. He says, “Christmas is the birthday of the One who gave us redemption and salvation. We remember Him and love Him.”
We asked Miriam, a mother and hairdresser, the same question. She answers, “Christmas represents new birth. It’s a time to remember that the gift of salvation is free, but it is priceless because it cost the Son of God to die on the cross for us.”
And Michael, a married clerk, answers, “Christmas is a holiday of love, peace and hope. The spirit of Christmas fills us with joy.”
We asked Kariim, a local janitor, how he celebrates Christmas in Egypt. He says, “Our celebration of Christmas is limited to celebrating inside our churches and homes only. We cannot celebrate in the streets as Muslims do when celebrating their Muslim feasts, for fear of causing friction with the Muslim majority.”
With joy, Miriam answers, “We decorate our homes with Christmas decorations and wear new clothes. My family and friends and I go to church on Christmas Eve to pray and celebrate Christmas. Then we return home, and we joyfully gather to eat Christmas foods such as turkey or meat. We buy gifts and put them next to the Christmas tree so that our children wake up to find the gifts. We sometimes visit orphanages, hospitals and nursing homes to spend good times with the residents and bring joy to their hearts.”
Michael says, “On Christmas Eve, we go to church, which is decorated with candles, lights, tree branches and red poinsettias. We sing Christmas carols and listen to Bible verses. Our churches and homes are decorated with red and green Christmas decorations, as red symbolizes Jesus Christ while green symbolizes eternal life.
However, even though Christmas is a great celebration, there is still the overarching fear of attack or persecution. When we asked about the dangers and fears that come with Christmas, Miriam says, “Sometimes terrorist attacks occur on churches, but lately there has been more security and stability during the celebration of Christmas. We pray that this Christmas passes safely without anything happening to spoil our joy.”
Kariim answers, “We, as Egyptian Coptics, have provided the most martyrs in the name of Christ throughout history. We will all attend church on Christmas Eve and any other occasion, whether there is danger or not. We don’t fear death.”
Similar to Kariim, Michael answers boldly, “We fear nothing. We trust God who is our protection.”
Christmas is a great time to remember our persecuted family. We asked these believers how we can pray for them. Samuel answers, “We ask our brothers and sisters in the US to pray that peace spreads throughout our region—the Middle East—which suffers from terrorism and hatred.”
Miriam says, “We ask you to pray that God gives us inner peace. The world is searching for peace, especially these days.”
And Michael answers, “I ask them to pray for all those who are persecuted for their faith, that God may strengthen them, help them and look at them with eyes of mercy, compassion and love.”
We’re grateful for these believers who took the time to sit down and chat with us. Will you join us in praying for them now?
God, we love our persecuted family. You’ve brought us all together, unified in You, across borders and continents. We ask for Your peace and love to swell in these persecuted believers in Egypt. This Christmas, let them feel Your tender love and mercy. And we also ask You to bring stability to the region. Let these wars stop and let these people groups and governments live in harmony with one another. And lastly, protect these Christians as they celebrate Christmas. Let them not worry about an attack that could come, but instead focus on the true reason we celebrate—Your Son. Amen.
About the authors
Girgis and Tim Dustin are journalists for Global Christian Relief and cover stories of Christian persecution from Egypt and the Middle East to the rest of the world. Get the latest blogs and prayer requests at GlobalChristianRelief.org