What it means to worship...

What it means to worship in the underground church in Egypt?

In 1987, the pastor baptized me in his house announcing before a crowd of ten people, “I baptize you Ibrahim in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”. Not long after that I was exposed to have renounced Islam and embraced Christianity. This infuriated Muslims at my village, El Salihiya, and I had to deal with an angry mob in front of my house. No one was able to disperse them until the coming of the police force, who then made sure to let me know I owe my life to them. They wanted me to pay them back by giving away the names of all involved in missionary work reaching out to Muslims and giving them all the names of other converts I knew. The police wanted me to cooperate with them, return the favor and for that I felt that my best exit was to deny any affiliation with the church. Later I would visit the church, always use the back door, and keep as much of a low profile as I knew how until it was possible for me to escape and leave Egypt for good. I lived under that terror for five solid years!

As I wrote down my testimony to put it on the internet I prayed the Lord would use it in the life of other Muslims who would be encouraged, make a definite break with Islam and surrender their lives to Christ. Over the years many have since reached out to me, letting me share in their journey. One of the Muslims who approached me is Mohamed. At first I didn’t know what to make of him as he was moving from black magic to reformed Islam and finally he called me to say that he was now a student in the Bible college in Lebanon training for ministry to Muslims. I was stunned by the dramatic transformation and how much he has matured in grace and filled with the saving beauty of Christ. Then came the pandemic Covid-19 and he had to return to Egypt. He found the church welcoming, but they have all the converts from Islam gather together in one room, which meant some of them could be already working for the police and infiltrating the group. The converts are often kept separate from the main congregation, thinking to protect both sides. Indeed there were spies in the midst of the underground church which Mohamed has been attending. Pastors were naive and downplayed the danger when any of the converts expressed concern over being arrested and interrogated.

One evening a bus of converts was heading to a retreat in the desert area of Wadi Natrun and right before they drove close to the gate a police force raided the bus of 150 converts and asked each one to turn in his identity card in order for it be scanned and processed for the upcoming arrests. None of the converts doubted the checking of identity cards. They thought it was just a routine thing. But 4 or 5 weeks later and at 2:00 am in the middle of the night, a police force knocked violently at the door of Mohamed’s house, jerked him out of bed, immediately blindfolded him and had him kneel with his arm behind him and shackled his hands with the cuffs. The officer made sure, as is always done, that nobody could recognize his face for fear of later revenge, and that’s how these officers watch their backs when torturing Muslim fundamentalists. While the police were arresting Mohamed, they made sure to make use of the raid and took away his laptop, camera, some cheap cologne and some chocolate bars. Off went the police force raid with Mohamed to be tortured at the police station. They wanted him to hear the buzzing loud sound of torture insturments, and told him that they could attach it to his genitalia if he said he didn’t know or hid anything from them. He was subjected to psychological torture for 5 days, slapped around. Muslim fundamentalists shared their food with him as it beame a community in one jail that brought them all together, sharing in the suffering. During his time in jail he was always blindfolded anytime he went to meet up with his officer for investigation. The officer has one concern in mind: is there any missionary activity targeting Muslims? And who are the people exactly who stand behind that? Believe what you want, but the minute you reach out to Muslims you have crossed over the line and they will get rid of you. Being an atheist doesn’t bother them in the least, but being a Christian and being missionary about it shakes up their foundation and enrages them.

My former officer in the army talks to me via Facebook anytime he needs help with his English. He told me that he never suspected anything while I was being drafted in Egypt as I had the appearance of a meek child whose eyes are closed, but is shocked to look at me now dedicating my life to tabsheer, that is missionary work and evangelism. The Prince of darkness who reigns their lives through Islam dreads the spreading of good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. They want to silence us. This happened before in the book of Acts with two of the disciples of Christ, Peter and John:
Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:18-20

Now that Mohamad has been marked as a secret Christian, the church has largely abandoned contact with him. He is left to deal with his difficulties alone with God alone as his help. I am thankful that now I live where I can be a help to him and be an encouragement during his dark days. Those five years I lived, prepared me to be there for my brother today, suffering the same torments I endured. Remember our brothers and sisters in your prayers as the church grows, despite all the efforts to squash the Gospel, and they live enduring suffering  for their faith in Christ!

Yes, we will keep speaking and shouting it from the rooftops: we can’t help but speak about what we have seen. We have seen the Lord. He is real. We live with Him everyday and He himself is our life and we lay down our life at His feet.

-Timothy Abraham
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