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ICC Note: Just over a year ago, Egypt’s Christian communities went through one of the worst periods of persecution in their nearly 2,000-year-old history. Nearly 100 churches and other Christian buildings were burned, and hundreds of homes, shops, and vehicles were also destroyed. Remarkably, for those who have responded with forgiveness there have been open doors for reconciliation, even as Egypt continues to battle with issues over fundamental rights for its citizens.

09/29/2014 Egypt (MNN) – A year after more than 85 churches and Christian institutions across Egypt were destroyed and burned, and three years after the country’s longest-serving president stepped down in the wake of nationwide protests, Christian workers here are finding an openness rarely experienced before.

Forgiveness, it seems, changes everything.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down after 18 days of nationwide demonstrations during what is now called the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Since then, Egypt has gone through various protests, elections, presidents, and the quake of upheaval.

In August last year, more than 85 churches and Christian institutions were attacked and burned as a result of demonstrations across Egypt calling for an Islamic state.

There was “a profound blow of disgrace and humiliation in this culture of honor,” said Ramez Atallah, General Director of the Bible Society of Egypt. “The non-retaliation of Christians was both unexpected and unprecedented,” he said.

Egyptians are now openly questioning everything, including their faith, and expressing doubts aloud, said *Patrick Stein, a Christian worker in Egypt and leader of a church-planting team here. To doubt isn’t rare, he said, but to openly challenge beliefs they have held onto is.

“They are hungry for truth in a way that was not present before the revolution and the ensuing turmoil,” said Stein.

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