CAIRO – The Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC) held its second International Conference on the topic: Evangelicals and Christian Presence in The East from 10-12 September 2014 at the Concord El Salam Heliopolis Hotel in Cairo – Egypt.
This Conference comes as a follow up to FMEEC’s previous conference on the same topic that was held in Beirut, Lebanon in 2012. It also comes at a very critical moment in our history because of the tragically deteriorating situation of Christians in the Middle East region, but especially in Iraq and Syria; where widespread proliferation of “takfiri” terrorism and violence, unprecedented in Middle East history, has wrought waves of killing, destruction and displacement. All this, is in addition to the tension and violence currently prevailing in Palestine and Lebanon.
The Conference had two parts: The first consisted of official visits made by some of the participants to the Prime Minister of Egypt, Engineer Ibrahim Mahlab, to the minister of Religious Trusts (Awqaf), Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar Gom’aa, as well as to “Sheikh Al Azhar,” the Grand Imam Dr. Ahmad El Tayyib.
Jesus Christ says to us today, “Get up and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and testify to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you. I will rescue you.” (Acts 26.16–17)
Today, as I come before you to discuss the crisis facing the Middle East and especially the crisis facing Arab and Middle Eastern Christians, these words of the risen Christ to the Saul resonate for us and for the communities we represent. “Get up and stand on your feet!” “I will rescue you!” There is work to be done in my name.
I have been asked to speak on the ecumenical response to our present crisis. Therefore, my message today is both internal and external, speaking to Christians in the Middle East as well as to the global Body of Christ. An ecumenical response—a response by the entire household of Christian faith—is necessarily global. But the response must first begin with us. As Jesus said, “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mark 3.25). In the presence of these pressing challenges, it is time to get our Arab Christian house in order.
1. We, the leaders of Evangelical and Protestant churches and organizations affiliated to the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon, have met together at this critical juncture of our history in order to
reflect on the current situation, and on the tragic events that our people in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon are passing through. We are most concerned over the great human suffering and political difficulties that our people in these countries are facing. We have deeply reflected upon this deteriorating state of affairs, and have been greatly disturbed and shocked by the ugly incidents of violence that innocent civilians and entire communities, especially Christian, have been subjected to.
2. We also write to you in solidarity with the various appeals and statements that have been issued by the leaders of our sister Eastern Churches, as well as by some Islamic groups, concerning the recent development of events in Iraq; and especially the forced displacement and murderous killings of individuals and groups by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), killings that verge on being a bona fide genocide.