The burned remains of the Evangelical Church of Beni Mazar in Minia, Egypt, was the onsite venue of SAT-7's Sunday, Sept. 9, broadcast. It was one of more than 80 Egyptian churches targeted by violent pro-Morsi demonstrators in August. SAT-7 provides quality Christian television programming via satellite to more than 15 million viewers throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
The special episode of SAT-7's My Church program aired footage of Egyptian Christians worshipping in the burned-out remains of their church
"The church' is not walls and buildings," says Hany Jacque, pastor of the Beni Mazar Church. "The 'church' is us, the people of God. This is a small price to pay for us to speak the truth."
On Aug. 14, angry rioters broke into the church building, looting, vandalizing and setting fire to it for seven hours. Furniture was stolen, windows were broken, and Bibles and other Christian books were set ablaze. The rioters also looted and burned the church's adjacent community services building, which provided medical and financial assistance to residents of Beni Mazar, regardless of their religious preference.
The arson attack was part of widespread chaos that engulfed Egypt when President Mohamed Morsi was removed from office this summer. Following six weeks of pro-Morsi protester occupation of public squares, deadly violence broke out on Aug. 14, as the army moved in to disburse them. Some of the protesters began acting on their promises of retribution against the army, police, liberals and specifically Coptic Christians. Christian organizations and properties were targeted.
Amid the remains of a charred hull and crumbling interior, with singed wires hanging from the ceiling, SAT-7 filmed Beni Mazar congregants filling the desecrated building with songs of praise and words of Scripture. As they joined hands in prayer, a church leader declared, "God's glory in the midst of the church' is a sign for what is coming in the land of Egypt."
In his sermon, Jacque called for forgiveness for the rioters, referring to the forgiveness Jesus extended from the cross to his attackers. "They burned and destroyed the building, but the church' will remain forever."
"It is evident that the almost universally nonviolent response to this collective worst assault on Christians in Egypt for almost 600 years has greatly impressed many Muslims," says Dr. Terence Ascott, SAT-7 chief executive officer. "This has been a very public turning of the other cheek' by the Christians of Egypt and a very public act of obedience to Jesus' injunction for his followers to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you'" (Matt. 5:44).
SAT-7 is committed to sending Christ's message of hope and reconciliation throughout the Arabic world. To contribute to additional SAT-7 filming in rural areas of Egypt to raise awareness and promote reconciliation, visit www.sat7usa.org. With international headquarters in Cyprus and five channels, SAT-7 broadcasts in Arabic, Farsi and Turkish, enabling viewers to join a global fellowship of Christians within the privacy of their own homes. Audience Relations Specialists are available throughout these regions to counsel and pray with viewers.
For more information, visit www.sat7usa.org.
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