Saturday, July 28, 2018

Updated Country Profile - Egypt

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Egypt. Despite a presence since 1974, the Church in Egypt remains unregistered with the government. The Church has appeared to purposefully keep a low profile in recent years order to avoid any opposition regarding its operation of the only LDS branch in the entire country - the Cairo Branch - as significant Muslim-Christian conflict and terrorism has recently occurred. The Cairo Branch is almost entirely comprised of foreign members. There have been a handful of Egyptian converts abroad and most previously affiliated as Muslim. Although Egypt has the largest Christian population of any country in the Middle East or North Africa, of whom 90% are Coptic Christians, there have never been any formal LDS proselytism efforts to reach them. Click here on more information about ancient Christian denominations in the Middle East and North Africa and prospects for LDS proselytism among them.


Eduardo said...

I have known a number of Coptic Egyptian expatriates, mostly in the US. Most of them see a bleak future for Christianity in general in their home country. While the more secular governments stay in control for now, the Muslim brotherhood and other harder core salafists threaten the freedoms of moderate Muslims and other non-Muslims. I hope that things can change there, for the better. Millions of pious Christians, for sure.
Cool to see growth way down south in Lesotho. Africa is still growing in impressive ways.

James said...

Thank you, Matt, for another great report on an area of the world where the Church is just starting to have success. I have often shared my opinion that some areas of the world are in different phases of Church history in which the early Church was restored and began to be reestablished. We have many nations, such as Egypt, that seem to be in the New York phase, where the gospel message may not be widely known or accepted. Others may be in the Kirtland phase, where the Church is seeing some success as the gospel message spreads. Still others are either in the Missouri or Illinois phase, where the Church is met with more persecution and where those who join the Church may be subjected to persecution or expulsion from their houses and lands. And in other areas, the progress of the Church may be as significant (if not more so) than the Church saw as the Saints migrated west first to Utah, then saw the Church start to expand in other lands.

While much of the growth on the African continent is expansive and very encouraging and inspiring, there are other places, particularly in the Middle East/Africa North area of the Church (under which I believe Egypt falls) where, for various reasons, the Church is either just starting out or somewhat restricted in its' ability to expand and increase its' presence due to either governmental restrictions, persecutions, or other dangerous political, economic, or religious situations.

That said, the Lord seems to be mindful of the Saints on the African continent, and the expansion of the Church we are seeing in many cases is encouraging. Thank you again, Matt, for this excellent report.

And for anyone else who may be interested, given the increasing references I have heard in recent days to President Nelson's love for temples and his ambitious plan to leave a temple-building legacy that will overshadow and outpace that which we saw under President Hinckley's smaller temple design, I have continued to invite comments on my own blog about more immediate prospective temple locations.

With my thanks to Matt for allowing me to do so, I would like to share that I have done two posts on my own blog about those prospects for the immediate future, and I am holding an open period from now until the week before General Conference (ie. for the next two months or so) on those lists, from which I will then be compiling a single list that will be included with my other predictions for the October General Conference. For anyone who would like to share their thoughts on my observations in those posts, I am including the addresses at which both posts can be found. Thanks again to everyone for the ongoing enlightening and inspiring commentary on the topics covered here, and thanks again to you, Matt, for both sharing such wonderful updates and for enabling us all to cover a wide variety of topics in the comments posted here.

El. Álvarez said...

I do not know where to email you. This is something interesting about the recent Christian growth in India among the dalits, untouchables. Thanks to being outcasts within Hindu society Islam has grown among them for centuries & lately is coming the time for Christianity. They are humble people ripe for the Lord. Perhaps the LDS church should focus more on them. I'm not saying that they don't. All I'm saying is that there might be a better more specific approach.

James said...

There may indeed be a better, more specific approach to the missionary work done by the Church in India, but there are a few difficulties in that regard. First, very few (if any) of us on this board have the kind of connections to get that kind of feedback to the general leadership of the Church. Second, since we here on this board are not currently privy to the discussions occurring at a general level on how to increase outreach worldwide, there is little to no way to tell whether or not the concerns you expressed above are being or will soon be addressed. And third, we can all make suggestions here for how the Church should be doing this or that differently, but because of the first two factors I mentioned, we do not know what the Brethren in Salt Lake have discussed, are discussing, or may yet discuss on this issue.

The one upside in this situation is that every Church committee, including the Missionary Executive Council, is made up of a mix of many men and women from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, who consistently meet on a regular basis to discuss how to fix and improve the missionary outreach of the Church. The latest information I have indicates that the Missionary Executive Council is currently comprised of Elders Dieter F. Uchtdorf (who chairs it), D. Todd Christofferson, Neil L. Andersen, and Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Brent H. Nielson (a General Authority Seventy and the Executive Director of the Church's Missionary Department); Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric; and Sisters Bonnie H. Cordon (Young Women General President) and Cristina B. Franco (Second Counselor in the Primary General Presidency).

Among these Brethren and sisters are at least 3 (Elders Uchtdorf and Soares and Sister Franco) who were not born in the US and bring an international perspective to this assignment, in addition to several other Church leaders who, though US born, have served in various capacities all over the world, both prior to and during their general Church service. This gives this particular group of individuals a pretty awesome way to ensure they have their hands steady on the pulse of what the Church's worldwide Missionary program needs.

And in addition to the membership of this specifc council, other apostles are also involved in ministering worldwide, which involves extensive meetings with missionaries all around the world, in addition to all 12 apostles having responsibility to determine fields of labor for all missionaries whose calls come from Salt Lake.

I mention all of this to illustrate that the Church may be more aware of areas that need outreach than many of us may realize. The apostles' ongoing worldwide ministry (which includes being given specific responsibilities by the president of the Church to oversee the Church's international areas, gives them additional opportunities to visit those areas, during which time needs can be assessed and reported back to Salt Lake.

Given that President Nelson is much more healthy now than President Monson may have been for the last 5-7 years of his life, and given the prophet's expressed desire to be out among the people, his efforts to visit nations and meet with both members and missionaries in those locations gives him the opportunity to witness firsthand what the members and missionaries are dealing with.

And some outreach efforts may be delayed by either the Lord's timing or by other circumstances over which the Church and its' leaders have little control, which includes natural disasters, economic issues, and, in some places, political, moral, or religious opposition to the Church extending its' outreach. That said, I have full confidence in the Brethren's ability to determine how and in what manner to expand outreach in such locations once the right conditions allow that to occur. Hope this information is helpful to you.

Eduardo said...

The dallits had a large referendum meeting back around 1997 whether to mass convert to Christianity or not; they decided no but I would like to know conversion numbers since.

Rossa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rossa said...

Stake Santa Cruz do Sul Brazil:
- Rio Pardo Branch upgraded to Rio Pardo Ward;
- Cachoeira do Sul Branch upgraded to Cachoeira do Sul Ward;
- Marina Branch Branch to Marina Ward;

John Pack Lambert said...

Conversations I have had with members who lived in Egypt, mainly one I knew at BYU in 2000 who had lived there in the late 1990s, suggested that about half the membership then was American expatriates, the other half converts from other countries in Africa, primarily Nigeria. However I am not sure how many of these Nigerian converts joined in Egypt as opposed to Nigeria.

The book "My Name Used to Be Muhammad" tells the story of a convert to the LDS Church who was raised in a very stringent form of Islam in Nigeria, went to Salafi affiliated schools in Syria, and had many friends who later joined Boko Haram. He was introduced to the Church while resident in Egypt by a man who had converts in Egypt. I almost want to say this person was Italian, but cant remember for sure if they were European or American, but were one of those two for sure. They had previously been part of the partying, hard drinking club going crowd that this man from Nigeria had fallen in with in Egypt. He was very impressed to see the changes of giving up alcohol consumption this man had gone through and also suprised at a Christian not drinking alcohol, something he had previously thought only Muslims didnt do.

The subject of the book attended meetings in the Cairo Branch but was refused baptism. He later managed to travel to Italy and be baptized. He told his fiancee of his decision to be baptized, she totally rejected him and he thinks she was key to his later arrest on trumped up charges that lead to him spending 10 years in jail.

John Pack Lambert said...

The My name Used to Be Muhammad author also indicates that the overall number of LDS members in Egypt decreased significantly because of anti-American feeling and Americans leaving after 9/11 and maybe in addition after the invasion of Iraq. He got many fewer visitors in prison after that.

Most of the publicity and support he got while in prison was from non-LDS Christian groups dedicated to advocating for and protecting persecuted Christians.

John Pack Lambert said...

A noticeable number of members of my stake, including a member of one of the branch presidencies in my stake, are Chaldeans. Chaldeans are Iraqi Roman Catholics, although their group was historically part of the Nestorian Church until around 1600 or so when they joined the Catholic Church. There is a growing number of Catholic Chaldean Churches here in Metro Detroit. However a large number of Chaldeans attend services at Latin Rite Catholic Churches.

I have also known other Chaldeans who joined the Church who went inactive after a short time, possibly in part due to strong familial pressure to remain in the Catholic Church. When I was in High School at least 20% of the students at my high school were Chaldean, and we had no ethnic Chaldean in the ward at that time. For some of the time I was in the YSA Ward I was a counselor to an elder's quorum president who was Chaldean. His family had actually joined the Church in Spain, where they first left after fleeing the violence of the Iran/Iraq War. When they moved to Michigan to the Southfield Ward they were quite encouraged that there was another Chaldean family in that ward.

I had some Coptic Christian friends both in High School and when I was a student at Eastern Michigan University. I have also known people who were Assyrian and from other backgrounds.

My favorite primary teacher was a Mexican man whose wife had been raised in Metro Detroit, converted to the Church in college, and she met him because she often went on splits with his sisters while on her mission in Houston while he was on his mission in California. I am positive her family background was Christian, but I am not sure if they were Catholic or Orthodx.

I have known a few other Church members of Lebanese and Palestinian descent whose families were Christians. I am not sure if any came from Orthodox Christian traditions.

John Pack Lambert said...

There has been a large trend of Coptic Christians leaving Egypt, not just for the US, but also Australia, and I believe several nations in Europe. I have known members from Mexico and Brazil who had ancestors who were Christians who emigrated from Lebanon or Syria to those nations two or three generations back. Egyptian emigration, at least of Coptic Egyptians as poosed to people who were more part of the Armenian or Greek merchant classes, is a largely post World War II phenomenon, as opposed to the emigrations from Syrian and Lebanon dating back to 1890 or a little before and continuing quite heavily into the 20th-century.

In the US northern New Jersey and southern California have significant populations of Egyptians. In the New Jersey area this is both of Coptic Christians and Muslims. Nashville, Tennesee has six Coptic Orthodox Churches. This is more than the four in all of Michigan.

The increasing level of violence against Christians in Egypt has made them began to emigrate as has previously happened to the Christian population of Iraq.

John Pack Lambert said...

Here in Metro-Detroit there are some Arabic-language Evangelical congregations. However in my experience the majority of Arabs in Metro Detroit are Orthodox or Catholic Christians, although the population of Muslim Arabs is on the rise and they may soon constitute the majority. Muslim and Christian Arabs in Metro-Detroit in general live in diffent cities and communities.

In Sterling Heights where I lived before I got married and moved to Detroit, there was a case where there was an attempt to build a Mosque adjacent to a community largely inhabited by Catholic Chaldeans from Iraq. The level of antagonism and negative reaction was worse than what was seen against the "ground sero" mosque. The way the people reacted they seemed to think building a mosque would lead to a repeat of the persecution at the hands of Muslims that caused them to flee Iraq 10 years ago in fear of their lives.