Using Business as a Tool of Witness in Egypt
By Claire Evans
05/15/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Hardline Islamism, as we have come to know it today, grew throughout the Middle East during the 1990s. Egypt was not immune to this rising threat, and extremist groups began sharing their propaganda throughout the countryside.
Mohammed was a young Egyptian man in his twenties during this time. He found himself drawing closer to hardline Islam, and eventually began spending more time with extremist groups. They would increase Mohammed’s responsibilities, tasking him with exploring Christian theology so that he could teach the weak points to the group’s members.
However, general pressure from the government would force Mohammed to temporarily leave for Jordan. There, he found work as a handyman. One day, his job took him to a Christian organization. “They were godly people, and treating me with love, which made me think, why are these people so good in spite they are Christians,” recalled Mohammed.
It was treatment that Mohammed had never expected to experience from Christians. His next job was very close to a church, and Mohammed found himself trying to eavesdrop on churchgoers’ conversations. “I wanted to hear what they were saying in discipleship groups, and wanted to know more,” he says. “When I finished working, I asked someone in the group if I can attend the church weekly and they welcomed me.”
For two years, Mohammed attended this church every week. He found that his ideas about Jesus began to change, and thanks to the discipleship of the pastor, he came to a better understanding of what Christianity is. He eventually converted to Christianity, and even attended theology college so that he could better explain his new faith to others.
Despite the risk, Mohammed returned to Egypt. The secret police soon discovered his conversion and began treating him harshly. He said, “It was a hard time. I can’t speak about that.”
For the last two decades, every few months, the secret police have frequently returned to Mohammed. Today, “they don’t treat me badly. But they told me clearly that I am free to do anything in my house, but don’t cause problems by sharing my faith in public.”
“They told me clearly that I am free to do anything in my house, but don’t cause problems by sharing my faith in public.”
This warning has not stopped Mohammed from wanting to share his faith. “I opened a software and computer repair shop,” he explained. “God uses me in a low-key way with the customers when they come. I still get visits from the police in my shop every now and then, just to tell me that they are there.”
When ICC first heard Mohammed’s story, we were deeply moved. Like Saul, here was a man who was involved in the persecution of Christians. Like Paul, he would go on to build and strengthen the Church, despite being persecuted himself for his faith in Christ. Our team was eager to help him.
When visiting his shop, we found that his shelves were stocked with very simple items. Yet, he was the only electronic store in his town. We found that Mohammed would charge low prices on the items, hoping that more people would come to his shop, which would allow him greater opportunities to witness. On the other hand, it barely gave him and his family of six enough income to survive.
After discussing the shop’s situation with Mohammed, we reached two solutions. First, we purchased a fresh stock of computer accessories for him to sell. Next, we bought him a machine that allows villagers to pay their utility bills on it. Mohammed would earn a commission on each bill payment, allowing him to earn a sustainable income while attracting new customers to the store.
This project has made all the difference for Mohammed. “This is the blessing which God gave to us. God knows our needs, and responds to us very quickly. I meet with God many years ago, and he isn’t changed.”
Mohammed asks for prayers for his shop, that it will allow opportunities for greater witness and provide for his family’s basic needs.
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