For Christians in Egypt, celebrating a public Christian holiday like Christmas carries risk and baggage. Just last year, 11 people were killed after leaving a December church service by a gunman on a motorcycle. In December 2016, a bomb killed dozens and injured many more. To be an open Christian in Egypt is to invite attention and pressure—and yet, the joy of Christmas is still possible even amidst the fear.

Many Egyptian Christians approach Christmas with deep pain and tears. In these days, Christian families who lost loved ones—a father, a mother or a child— remember the heartbreaking funerals, the sad images and tunes, and they cry in denial that those they love have gone. All that is left of their lives are some clothes, toys, books and framed pictures; these are usually hung in the families’ living rooms. Some still suffer health consequences of the attacks they endured. Some people lost limbs, and others suffer from terminal damage to their bodies. Samiha, an elderly Christian woman, even lost half of her face in a church suicide attack. Social media is full of posts of lament. Matthew 2:18 is quoted by many:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,

Weeping and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children;

She refused to be comforted,

because they were no more.”

Some Christians will be reluctant to attend church on Eastern Christmas Eve. After all, no one can be completely confident that they will return home after the service. Yet millions of Christians in Egypt will attend their church services in order to celebrate the ultimate joy of the world. They will celebrate the birth of our Saviour!

Most Egyptian churches will be full of worshipers. The sound of worship, praise and joy will rise to Jesus in the land of Egypt. May the love of Jesus in the memory of His birth bring hope and comfort to the broken hearted and to those in pain. May His love open the eyes of the blind, enlighten darkened minds and melt the hearts of stone. May the Lord of love and hope make Himself known to all Egyptians so they will acknowledge Him as their Lord and Saviour.

Our Gifts of Hope are delivering hope to believers living in these difficult circumstances. Join us in sending them hope and assurance that they are not alone!