In what is being called a “prophetic” and “historic” meeting, a delegation of American Christian evangelical leaders met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi last week – an unprecedented move to solidify relations between Christians and the Arab world’s largest nation.
Kairos Company Founder Johnnie Moore insisted that the evangelical delegation’s meeting with Sissi far exceeded their expectations going in.
“Rarely have I been in a meeting that was scheduled for an hour that went for three hours and the conversation was clear, so authentic,” Moore told CBN News. “There was no hedging. It was like we were best friends for our entire life. It was historic yesterday.”
According to the delegation’s host, Joel Rosenberg – an expert on the Middle East – Sissi is the ideal type of leader the United States needs in the hostile Muslim region as President Donald Trump continues the war on Islamic terrorism.
“I believe it is setting into motion an historic relationship between an Arab Muslim leader and the evangelical Christian movement,” the best-selling author expressed to CBN News. “I have to tell you, I’m a fiction writer and if President Abdel Sissi didn’t exist, you’d have to make him up. I mean [he is] what are we looking for in an ally with the United States: people who want, people who are telling us I want a strong, strategic alliance with America. I’m fighting the same people you’re fighting.”
Supporting America’s goal to shut down jihadists in a global effort, Egypt’s president emphasized during the meeting how important it is to protect the religious freedom of people of all faiths.
Commending Sissi, former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) appreciated the steps he has taken to create a climate of religious tolerance in Egypt.
“As a former member of the United States Congress, I can tell you that President Sissi is the best of the best in Egypt – on a political and military level – that he’s here,” Bachmann stressed to CBN News. “But I can also tell you that as a believer in Jesus Christ, I’m extremely proud to be associated with President al-Sissi because he wants to be sure that I, as a Christian in Egypt, am able to practice my faith and belief without having that disrupted.”
In fact, Sissi asked that Christians around the world pray for him and his nation.
“Please pray for me,” the Egyptian president urged the Christian community, according to CBN News. “Please pray for Egypt because we are in a battle.”
Forming stronger bonds
America’s relationship with Egypt today under the Trump administration is much stronger than it was under the Obama administration, as the former president shunned Sissi while in office.
“The meeting is an extension of the shift in U.S. policy under Trump,” the Washington Postreported. “Trump has hosted and praised Sissi – his April visit to the White House was the first by an Egyptian leader in eight years – while President Barack Obama refused to invite him because of concerns about human rights violations. Sissi is seen as more sympathetic to his country’s Christian minority than his predecessors.”
The number of major Islamic leaders at the meeting working in unison with the U.S. reflected the longstanding partnership America has had with Egypt over the decades.
“The delegation also met with two influential Muslim leaders: Egyptian Grand Mufti Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allamand and Mrs. Jehan Sadat – the widow of Egypt’s former president Anwar Sadat,” CBN News reported. “It was Anwar Sadat who forged an historic peace with Israel in 1979 – a peace that has endured for decades.”
Jehan Sadat extolled the evangelical group for its efforts to make Egypt a safe place to worship.
“It is so important that such a wonderful group like them [are able] to visit Egypt and to get to know the Egyptian people are for peace,” Sadat explained to CBN News. “We want to build our country, we want to do our best. We want to do more hospitals, more schools, more, everything to make the country – to elevate the standard of the people.”
The significance of Egypt in the Scriptures cannot be ignored.
“Egypt is a land rich in biblical history,” CBN News’ Chris Mitchell pointed out. “Here, Pharaoh’s daughter rescued Moses from the Nile River. It’s the land of Joseph, the Israelites and the Exodus. It’s where Jesus sought refuge as a child. Egypt is mentioned more times in the Bible than any other country except Israel. That’s why these evangelical leaders believe God has a special calling on this nation.”
Moore believes that God will use Egypt in a major way in the End Times as He has throughout the New and Old Testaments, and he sees major changes on the near horizon in Egypt as prophesy continues to unfold paving the way for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
“We, as Christians, love Egypt because the Scriptures indicate that God has this great love for Egypt – not even just a general love,” Moore impressed. “There are specific verses, specific prophecies about God’s love. Isaiah 19 speaks of Egypt, My people. As I travel around throughout the Arab world, there’s a new openness, there’s a new cooperation. The horrible events of recent years have awakened everyone not only to the idea of peace, but the necessity of it, and we have nothing to fear by freedom.”
Christians strengthening Christians
Protestant Community of Egypt President Dr. Andrea Zaki — who heads Egypt’s evangelical church – stressed the importance of providing a safe place for Christians to grow in their faith in the North African nation.
“A fantastic meeting, sharing the hopes, the dreams, the challenges facing evangelicals here: how they look to the future, how they can together build a coalition for the Kingdom of God,” Zaki – who is also the general director of the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services – shared with CBN News. “The meeting was very prophetic and very inspiring. We are an emerging church – a growing church. We have confidence in God, and we are working together to bring the Kingdom of God. We are pro-stability, co-existence, respecting the others; we are pro-building the Kingdom of God by inviting people to come to Jesus, but also building co-existence and peace.”
The head of Leading the Way Ministry, Dr. Michael Youssef, emphasized the importance of praying for the Church in Egypt – especially as the Last Days approach.
“Sometimes they feel all alone, so for us to come here and to say, ‘You’re not alone. We’re with you. We pray for you,'” Youssef shared with CBN News. “In fact at our church, we pray every Sunday and every Wednesday for the persecuted church – not once a year. We pray for them on a regular basis, and we support them in every way we know how so that was a shot in the arm for the believer and the Christian leaders in Egypt today. So, we really need to be in prayer for the Christians here.”
Rosenberg is glad that the U.S. is seizing the opportunity under the Trump administration to improve relations with Egypt, which is an important player in the volatile Middle East today – just as it was millennia ago.
“This is one of those rare moments in history when God allows the followers of Jesus Christ to build relationships with world leaders to be ambassadors for Christ,” Rosenberg concluded. “This is what the Apostle Paul talked about – that we are ambassadors of a Kingdom, Christ’s Kingdom.”
With a few hundred thousand Protestants living in Egypt amidst a population of 95 million, Christians are a small minority in the Muslim nation, but key conservatives – many working with advocacy groups – are working with the Egyptian government to improve conditions for the Church there.
“American evangelical attendees … were Joel Rosenberg, an American writer who lives in Jerusalem; retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence in the second Bush administration; Family Research Council President Tony Perkins; San Diego pastor Jim Garlow; Florida pastor Mario Bramnick; Middle East commentator Michael Evans; communications executive Larry Ross; political activist Robert Vander Plaats; Campus Crusade for Christ Global Leadership Vice President Dela Adadevoh; former congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.); Egyptian American Atlanta pastor Michael Youssef; and Moore,” the Post’s Michelle Boorstein listed off. “Bachmann, Evans, Perkins, Bramnick, Garlow and Moore serve as informal advisers to Trump.”
Even though Christians have been under attack in Egypt in recent years, el-Sissi had been hard at work to change the trend of violence against believers.
“Sissi is considered more friendly to Christian Egyptians than his predecessor, and was the first president to attend a Christmas Mass of Egypt’s Coptic Christians in 2015,” Boorstein added. “That was two years after he led the bloody military ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected leader. He has ordered his government to help resettle Christians who fled the Sinai Peninsula in fear of the Islamic State. But private and public discrimination against Christians continues in Egypt, as does the threat of violence from extremists.”
In addition, Egypt has been an ally of Israel for many years, and unlike most Middle Eastern Islamic nations, it has been supportive of Israel amidst its hostile neighbors in what is commonly known as the Powder Keg.
“With regards to the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations that the Trump administration is trying to renew, Rosenberg said that Sissi ‘didn’t go into tactics and specifics,’ but expressed his support for that effort,” Haaretz reported. “Over the last year, Sissi has stated a number of times that Egypt believes an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord could have a positive influence on the entire Middle East, and has encouraged the Trump administration to pursue such a deal.”