Arab Republic of Egypt
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Egypt occupies the northeast corner of the African continent with a northern border to the Mediterranean Sea and an eastern border to the Red Sea. But the most significant body of water in Egypt is the Nile River. Egypt is sometimes called ‘the gift of the Nile” because its waters are the lifeblood of the country. It was in the Nile Valley that Egyptian civilization began six thousand years ago and it was the first society organized along political lines. Since these ancient beginnings the land of Egypt has seen numerous rulers come and go, including Hyksos, Greeks, Romans, Nubians, other Africans, Persians, Crusaders, Seljuks, Turks, the British, and others. It was not until 1953 that independence was gained under the leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser. Today the Republic is governed by two legislative bodies known as the Advisory Council and the People’s Assembly.
Egypt is defined by the lands of the Nile Valley. Though making up only 3% of the nation’s total area of more than 1 million sq km (389,000 sq miles) the Valley is home to 99% of the nation’s population of more than 70 million people. Nearly all agriculture takes places within this valley and accounts for more than one-third of the economic base. Petroleum is the largest export with cotton, both raw and in finished products, coming in second. The Suez Canal, opened in 1869, plays in important economic role for the nation and the region. Current plans call for a widening and deepening of the Canal to accommodate modern shipping. Services are a strong segment of the Egyptian economy. Tourists have been drawn to Egypt’s ancient monuments for hundreds of years.
Egypt figures prominently in both the Old and New Testament narratives. It is said that Christianity can be traced to Egypt as early as 40 A.D. and Coptic Christians consider the Gospel writer Mark as the first Bishop of Alexandria. Six percent of Egyptians are Coptic Christians; the remaining 94% of the population are Muslim, mostly Sunnis.
The work of the Stone-Campbell Movement in Egypt was begun in the 1960s through Bob Douglas an American missionary of the a cappella Churches of Christ. Bob met with success using Bible correspondence work and personal evangelism and was able to baptize thirty people before being forced from the country in 1967 due to the political situation. Bob was also able to do some work in Libya (see Libya profile). The subsequent war between Egypt and Israel dispersed these early converts so that by 1976 Evertt Huffard was able to locate only two of them, one being of Cairo. With encouragement and financial assistance from several American congregations and individuals, including a couple from Nashville, Tennessee who frequently visited to Egypt, this individual in Cairo has for several years been able to continue his work and carryout a program of preaching and evangelism. Other American missionaries have been known to work in Egypt but for reasons of safety their names are withheld. Considerable effort is underway in Egypt; Bible correspondence courses are an effective tool where efforts to convert Muslims is illegal. Some materials have been translated into Arabic of distribution. From time to time a congregation of American expatriates has been known to assemble in Maadi.
The Christian Churches and Churches of Christ in the United States financially support the work of Christian Arabic Services (CAS) and the work of an Egyptian couple. Begun in 1984, CAS works in villages in an area well to the south of Cairo. Correspondence courses (used through the Middle East), literacy programs, medical missions, curriculum development, training seminars, and deaf ministry are all part of the outreach of CAS. A Bible College was established in 1997 with 18 students; enrollment grew to 83 by 2002. At least twelve churches are being encouraged through the work of CAS, many of them house churches; six churches in six villages currently average a membership of thirty. New outreaches are being directed towards nurses and hospital workers, technical school graduates and Sudanese refugees in Egypt. A Sudanese congregation in a suburb of Cairo is under the leadership of a dynamic Sudanese evangelist. The couple have also traveled in the United States and Canada preaching and teaching for English and Arab-speaking congregations, the latter in Toronto and Los Angeles.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
For further historical reference:
Churches of Christ Around the World, Lynn, Mac, 21st Century Christian Publications, Nashville, TN, 2003.
For online directories of a cappella Churches of Christ see:
Christian Arabic Services
In the US:
C/O Jack Cottrell
2700 Glenway Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45204