OVERVIEW: Egypt is home to both the fastest growing population in the Middle East and the largest Christian population in the Arab world. It remains a strategic location for Christian activity across North Africa and the Middle East. There are many well-established evangelical churches and parachurch ministries focused on reaching both nominal Christians and Muslims with the gospel inside Egypt. Several of these groups also send Egyptian missionaries across the region. Overt Christian activity can result in persecution, but there is much to be excited about as the church grows in Egypt and establishes a regional base of missionary activity.
MAJOR RELIGIONS: 87 percent of Egyptians are Sunni Muslims, 13 percent are Christians, including 4 percent who are evangelical Christians.
PERSECUTOR: Various extremist groups operate in Egypt, including the Muslim Brotherhood and the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS). The government does little to prevent attacks on Christians and sometimes beats or imprisons those who are outspoken about their faith.
WHAT IT MEANS TO FOLLOW CHRIST IN EGYPT: Egypt’s Eastern traditional Christians, referred to as Coptic, enjoy the freedom to worship openly as long as they keep to themselves and do not engage in evangelistic outreach to the Muslim majority community. Evangelical Christians face tremendous opposition from Islamists, including radical elements within the government. Christians sometimes struggle to receive proper medical care in Muslim-controlled hospitals and clinics. When Christians are attacked or kidnapped by Muslims, the government rarely provides protection or assistance. Christian converts from Islam face the most problems, including being expelled from their families, being divorced by their Muslim spouses, losing their children and losing their jobs. Additionally, because their government-issued identity cards identify them as Muslim, it is difficult for them to attend church, to marry, to register their children in school, to get a job or to emigrate elsewhere. Christians charged with apostasy or proselytizing Muslims are generally imprisoned for a week or two, with a few notable exceptions.
ACCESS TO BIBLES: Bibles in Egypt are readily available at Bible societies, churches and bookstores in a variety of formats, translations and languages. However, not all Egyptian Christians can afford a Bible, and high illiteracy rates make Bible distribution an ongoing challenge.
VOM WORK: VOM responds to widespread persecution needs, produces and provides Bibles and Christian literature, distributes assistance, and trains pastors and other leaders.