CAIRO, EGYPT (May 23, 2017) – An outreach to people from around the world who had gathered for Pope Francis’s visit here last month demonstrated what is possible when multiple ECC mission priorities, local churches, and an independent organization overseas work together.
At an open-air rally at which the pontiff spoke, the Bible Society of Egypt distributed 30,000 high-gloss booklets titled “Words that Changed the World,” which contained the words of the Sermon on the Mount in English and Arabic.
The crowd included an unprecedented number of up to 3,000 key Egyptian VIPs that included politicians and entertainers, said Ramez Atallah, general secretary of the Bible Society of Egypt.
The Pope had decided to go ahead with the April 29 rally despite the suicide bombings at two churches that killed 45 people on Palm Sunday. It was the “worst day of violence targeting Christians in Egypt’s modern history,” according to Human Rights Watch.
Atallah said that “Muslims who are outraged at the blind and evil hatred of this atrocity have expressed frustration with Christians in all their talk of love and forgiveness. As with previous attacks, the sense of revenge is minimal as families embrace martyrdom as a gift from and to God.”
Rolling Hills Covenant Church has worked with the Bible Societies in the Middle East and North Africa for 25 years, said member Safy Jacob. When the Bible Society of Egypt asked the church to help fund the booklets, the church contacted Al Tizon, executive minister of Serve Globally to partner on the project. Make and Deepen Disciples also agreed to help fund the outreach.
Tizon and Michelle Sanchez, executive minister of Make and Deepen Disciples, said it was an opportunity for the two mission priorities to work together on an event that promoted evangelism and discipleship.
Last year the ECC established Middle East North Africa as a new Serve Globally region. One of its primary goals is to work with local entities who already are ministering there.
Although some restrictions exist on distributing literature, numerous opportunities remain, said Lois Nagieb, who works with the Bible Society. She noted that in 2016 the organization distributed nearly 2.3 million units of Scripture, including 262,770 Bibles and 233,718 New Testaments. The society also operates 17 public bookstores and numerous outlets for selling Christian literature.
“Each year, we sell about six or seven thousand New Testaments to the public at the Cairo International Bookfair—most are non-church goers,” Nagieb said.