On 9 April 2016, the weekend edition of the government-owned Al-Ahram newspaper – Egypt’s most popular paper – contained an article with a difference. Written in bold was the title: Love in Christianity.
In Egypt, preaching the gospel publicly remains a crime that can lead to imprisonment. Despite this, the article’s author, a well-known and respected Muslim journalist, dedicated a full page costing 10 million Egyptian Pounds (around £770,000) to 50 Bible passages on love. Other themes in the verses included forgiveness, peace, and even the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the atonement of sins.
The author ended the article by asking, “Have we ever heard anyone saying what the Christ, Isa, son of Mary, said when he told the love story we find in the gospel of Matthew 5:43-45: ‘You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven’?”
An Open Doors contact in Egypt said, “What a great joy to read such a powerful article about Christian love! The thought that millions of Egyptians may have read the article and had, maybe for the first time, an opportunity to think about God’s love and some of Jesus’ teaching is so thrilling and exciting.”
Below are some of the Bible verses included in the article. As you read them, please pray that God will use them to bring his love to many people.
The LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness…”
I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 4:10
I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.
Egpyt ranks as number 22 on Open Doors’ World Watch List. Religious freedom for Christians is not fully guaranteed, and the church is under pressure from the authorities, who do not appear to view human rights as a high priority. Both the indigenous Coptic community and Muslim-background believers face mounting pressure as Islamist groups become more violent.
Source: Open Doors
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