Egypt, almost exactly one million square kilometers, is famous for its ancient history (Pharaohs, Sphinx, pyramids...), striking geography (desert, the Nile and its delta, Sinai, the Suez Canal connecting the Gulf of Suez to the Mediterranean...), and important biblical role (Moses, the Exodus, even the perennial temptation of the people of God to return to Egypt).

75 million persons live in the Arab Republic of Egypt, 16 million of them in the capital city of Cairo. Alexandria (5 million) is the second largest conurbation. One third of the population lives below the poverty line (income/person is about US$1110/year), and functional literacy is 35-40% (Operation World, 2003).

"President Sadat's diplomacy (1970-81) won back control of the valuable Suez Canal and Sinai oilfields from Israel as an outcome of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The peace treaty with Israel led to political isolation from other Arab states for some years, but the continued failure to find a lasting solution to the Palestine issue has brought disillusionment. Extreme Islamist groups exploited economic problems to mount a terror campaign against the government, Christians and foreign tourists. Vigorous and harsh suppression between 1992 and 2000 marginalized and discredited the Islamist movements. The economic and political cost was high. Multi-party democratic government is more theoretical than real, but the country is relatively stable politically" (OW, 2003).

86% of Egyptians are Muslims, while 13% claim to be Christians. The largest Christian group is the Coptic Orthodox Church (4.6 million), and amounts to roughly 90% of Egyptian believers. I had a chance to speak in Cairo in July 2008, at a time when local believers are under the close scrutiny of the government (which has shown itself to be no friends of Christians.)

I returned from my second trip to Egypt on 29 January 2011. My 13th and most interesting visit to the Middle East. Thanks for all your prayers.

Please pray for the peace, prosperity, and evangelization of Egypt today. And that the Lord will use the state of political unrest to crack open the entire Muslim world!

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