MINYA, Egypt — A terrorist attack against Coptic Christians in Egypt that left at least 28 people dead has been characterized as a call to action for believers in America.
“We cannot ignore such sacrifice [by Egyptian Christians] and such pain,” said Mike Edens, who served with the International Mission Board and lived in Egypt for 17 years. “The Spirit of God is moving the church into these painful situations” to pray, comfort and share the Gospel with Muslims.
Ten gunmen opened fire today (May 26) on two buses carrying Christian worshipers to a monastery in southern Egypt and a pickup truck carrying workmen, according to media reports. In addition to the more than two dozen dead, at least 22 others were injured.
The attack left children and senior adults among the dead, The New York Times reported, with some shot at point-blank range after terrorists boarded the buses. Only three children survived the attack, according to Fox News.
No group has claimed responsibility.
The shooting occurred less than two months after bombings claimed by the Islamic State terrorist group targeted Coptic Christians on Palm Sunday and nearly six months after the main Coptic cathedral in Cairo was bombed, an attack also claimed by the Islamic State.
In all, terror attacks against Coptic Christians since December have claimed more than 100 lives in Egypt. Coptic believers — who trace their origins to the Gospel writer Mark in the middle of the first century — comprise roughly 10 percent of Egypt’s population.
Edens, professor of theology and Islamic studies at New Orleans Seminary, said that the latest attack likely was carried out by a group of Islamists who want to establish an Islamic republic in Egypt and create chaos for the government.
“A minority in Islam is trying to polarize the situation,” Edens said. “They’re trying to pull dissatisfied Muslims to their side. They’re trying to overthrow the government. They are trying to minimize non-jihadist Muslims’ influence … in the culture.”
Islamic terrorists in Egypt are “constantly dissatisfied” because the government has “compromised” by not living according to pure Sharia law and instead has adopted “modern technology and modern banking and modern commerce,” Edens said. He added that such dissatisfaction helps motivate terrorism.
Christians in Egypt are “soft targets” for dissatisfied terrorists, he said, because many live in remote regions — like the site of the May 26 attack — where it is difficult for the government to provide security.
Christians around the world must respond to Islamic terrorism, Edens said, by praying for both the perpetrators and the surviving victims. Christians in Egypt, he said, need prayer for divine empowerment to witness and comfort from the Holy Spirit.
An article by Edens posted on the IMB website May 22 called Christians to focus their prayers on the salvation of Muslims during the Islamic feast of Ramadan, which occurs May 26-June 24 this year.
Yet “we cannot simply and only pray,” Edens said. “We have to give [to missions] and we have to be involved. There are Muslims in every metropolitan area of the United States. There are Copts in most of those cities. And we can apply our prayers directly to our neighbors.
“We need to reach out with love, compassion and Gospel fervor,” he said.
In related news, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a May 22 bombing in Manchester, England, that killed 22 people as crowds departed an arena following a pop music concert.
Amid terror attacks like the ones in Egypt and England, many Muslims feel hopeless, Edens said, and need “the touch of God” more than ever.
— by David Roach | BP