A draft constitution was passed today by Egypt's constituent assembly, after many representatives—including Coptic Christians—had left the room to protest the process. Several articles of the constitution raise concerns for Christians who fear that more persecution may be coming in Egypt under President Mohamed Morsi's government.
I was asked today by a reporter what this means for Christians in Egypt. I wish I could answer that! I do know that Christians are worried about what the future holds for them in their country. Will religious minorities be protected? Will a person have the freedom to change their religion under a constitution that says "the principles of Islamic Shariah" will be the "principle source of legislation?"
I don't know the answers to those questions. But I do know this: God's spirit is not stopped by constitutions or man's laws.
As I watch what is happening in Egypt today, I am reminded of when the ayatollahs came to power in Iran (even though I was only 9 years old!). The mullahs took over, and they immediately adopted Shariah law and told the people of Iran, "We are going to run the whole country according to Islam. Finally we can be all that we're supposed to be as a country, because we are doing everything according to the Koran and Allah's will."
At the time, many wondered what would happen to the church in Iran. Many feared it would be wiped out. How would they survive such oppression? How would the gospel go forth?
Today we are 30+ years down the road, and the church in Iran is one of the fastest growing churches in the whole WORLD. People are coming to Christ in droves. One Iranian worker told me a couple of years ago that if you shared the gospel with 10 Iranians, five of them would choose to follow Christ immediately; the people of Iran are that hungry for Truth!
A significant source of their hunger is Islam. They've been told that their country is being run according to true Islam. So when the government fails, the people see it as the failure of Islam. Questioning the government means questioning Islam. And almost everyone in Iran is questioning the government! And they are HUNGRY to find another way, and Jesus is truly The Way.
So as we see political and constitutional battles going on in Egypt, and as it appears more and more likely Islam will become the driving force of the government and the authorities there, it is tempting to get discouraged. But we must remember that God is still at work and out of this He can grow and strengthen and build His church. I pray that if there is an Islamic government in Egypt, it will produce the same result as the Islamic government in Iran: tens of thousands of Egyptians finding the Way, the Truth and the Life in Jesus Christ.
Todd Nettleton has served the persecuted church and VOM almost 15 years. He has been interviewed more than 1800 times by various media outlets. He's the author of Restricted Nations: North Korea, and served on the writing team for FOXE, Extreme Devotion, Hearts of Fire and other VOM books.