Related in one congregation Melbourne, Australia

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Brother Murad

Experiences in Egypt

Related in one congregation Melbourne, Australia

Brothers and sisters, it's my privilege to be here today to say some experiences and the situation in my country - Egypt. I have with me Bro. William to translate for you into proper English.

I'm from Egypt and the population of Egypt is 70 million, the Christian population is about 15% of that. So, Egypt is a Moslem country. And we've been under ban as Jehovah's Witnesses for more than 50 years now. We've suffered a lot of persecution, been beaten, been imprisoned, been interrogated and followed. There was a pressure put on us to stop all meetings and asking us not to meet at all. But for these 50 years the meetings have never stopped and the preaching work has never stopped. Of course you know the reasons but to understand why the work has continued, let's have a look at Matt 28:20, Matt 28:20 - "Teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you and look I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things." Of course this promise of Jesus is still being fullfilled and that he would be with us until the conclusion (of things).

I would like to tell you why the Egyptian authority has been following us and persecuting us. Because most Christians in Egypt belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church and the head of this Orthodox Church is known as the Pope Shenouda. He is an enemy of Jehovah's Witnesses. Because of the problems between Arabs and Jews, what he does is he comes to the authorities, he says that Jehovah's Witnesses are against all other religions, they are against the government and the authorities and they are warring against everybody.So for this reason, the Egyptian government is upset of the work of Jehovah's Witnesses. But despite that, the Orhtodox Church has failed to stop the work of Jehovah's Witnesses in Egypt.

Just before I came to Australia three months ago, the Pope Shenouda actually tried to instigate some persecution and he went and made a complaint to the authorities. He went to the authorities and said that "Jehovah's Witnesses are stealing from my flock 90 members a year". So he said " I'm afraid that one day I'll get up in the morning and I'll go to my church and not find a single Orthodox person there." The authority said to him:"Well, we can't stop their work, we haven't allowed them, we haven't legalized them and we can't stop them at the same time. But we can give you some very strong advise. So when you go to your church next week, you and all the other priests, if you can warn your flock not to allow Jehovah's Witnesses in their homes, not to speak to them and not to sit down discuss the Bible with them." He did so but he failed to explain to his flock why. So now his flock come to us and ask why (do Jehovah's Witnesses persecute), why he persecutes Jehovah's Witnesses. So when we showed them the reason from the Bible, they listen, they study, get baptized and leave their church. So this allows these persecutions to increase against us. So despite what this pope and others are doing, of course this work will not succeed because we have Jesus with us until the conclusion of things. So despite the opposition and the persecution, the work is flourishing in Egypt and I'd like to give you that quarter of an hour at the end of the talk if you have any questions about the work in Egypt, you might want to start preparing your minds for some questions now.

What I can tell you is that in Egypt there are about ten congregations.Despite the opposition that we mentioned there are quite a number of pioneers - special pioneers, regular pioneers and auxiliaries. I just want to go back to explain some of these opposition that comes from the authorities. Of course our meetings are not held in such beautiful halls as you have here, we do'nt have these beautiful halls with all the airconditioning and heating and all that you have. We can never meet as two congregations for any reason whatsoever. We can't meet three times a week for our meeting. We can't even sing the beautiful kingdom songs that you sing, all we can do is read them. We triied once to sing with our voices the night is full of police. So I'll tell you how we go about our meetings in Egypt. We have one meeting a week and that's for three hours, That's the whole five meetings. The public talk is half an hour, book study is half an hour, Watchtower study 15 minutes, we have a 5-minute break, and because of the extra need that's there as an elder sometimes I may need to go to two or three of those meetings a week. So it helps me to learn the Watchtower sometimes by heart. So of course we meet in small groups, no more than 15 or 20 as a maximum. At the assemblies, we're allowed to reach 25. The authorities though once called us in, they said " You really don't have a right to call these meetings because you're not recognized here" They said, " We will allow you though to go about your meetings but you must promise us you will onlly have 15." Unfortunately we've never stuck to our word, we would always go a little over 15.

How do these authorities know our movemements and what we're up to? We're surprised that in the last few years when people are coming to us and knocking on our door and are asking for a Bible study. And of course as Jehovah's people that's we're looking for, so we've never turned them back, we'd welcome them and study the Bible with them. Although we noticed after a while, it seemed a habit that when they did come to the study, their shirt would have a little bulge under it on the right side.( But maybe a little pot belly like I have?) And what we found out that they actually had a taping device, a recording device and they would then be passing these on to the authorities. So in this way the authorities were able to find out what is happening during the studies. We even had one of these spies reach baptism and he was able to tape all the of the meetings and all the assemblies and passed them on. So when we count the attendance at out meetings at 15 or 20 we'd always add a few to those listening to the recording device. But of course Jehovah must have a reason allow this. I'll tell you what the reason was. Because of this the authorities came to be convinced that Jehovah's Witnesses were not teaching anything against the government, we are not warring against other religions, we're simply teaching the Bible. So in the last five to ten years they started to soften their attitude toward us. But they did say that " be careful, if your number increase, dramatically we have to step in and stop your work." The number has increased and they failed to stop the work and of course you know why. Of course the work continues despite opposition but I would like to tell you some specific experiences that show how the work is progressing in Egypt.

Every year we have a problem around Memorial time because we have new ones who would like to attend the Memorial. The authorities actually have all the publications of Jehovah's Witnesses and they receive all the new ones. They have the Daily Text and so they know when the Memorial is on. And they want to know who are the new ones that are coming. How many are we now? So what do we do if we want ot invite new ones? The morning of the Memorial, we assign certain brothers and sisters. We assign them to go two or three hours before the memorial begins to pick up these interested ones and take them to the venue. So, this of course is so that we can protect the brothers but despite this for some reason the authorities always knew how many had attended the memorial. But never has the Memorial had to be cancelled or any meetings or assemblies. One of the direct persecution or opposition that we faced in Egypt, I am about to tell you about.

As a branch, the work is actually directed by the branch in Italy and the brother who is responsible for the work holds an extra work in Egypt is an annointed. He's 86 years od age. For 50 years now, the authorities has been trying ot catch this brother. though they know his name but they don't know what he looks like. So once they arrested an old sister, she's been a missionary in Egypt for 15 years, and the officer put her in jail. They said to her: "If you are not going to tell us where this man, this friend of yours is, but it does not matter because we have information that told us where he is. four o'clock in the morning we are going to arrest him, we are going to bring him here into the same cell with you." This 84-year old sister said, "Don't do this, you are only going to upset Jehovah and Jesus." And the officer then said to her: " Be silent! I'm going ot show you that neither this Jehovah or Jesus are going to help you." At four in the morning, he opened the cell door and said to her:"I'm on my way, I'm going now to get your brother." She said to him: "If that's what you want to do, then go ahead but I can't say God be with you." So at four in the morning, he got in the van with some other policemen and they took off to where they had heard where this brother was. And with this van while crossing a train line and in Cairo, there isn't any train moving in anywhere in Cairo. But in this particular night a mechanic just fixed a train and he was taking it for a test drive. Of course you know what's going to happen. He was speeding along and the policemen in the van was also coming in a fast speed and at amazing time they met. The van overturned four times, they're all injured (inaudible) , nobody died, only the official, the officer broke his arm and he had to have a plaster. The next day he was able to go back to the prison, he opened the cell door and said;"Get out of here, I don't want to see your face again."

On another ocassion he was visiting us in Alexandria, where I live, and he was visiting us as Circuit Overseer. So for the security and the safety of this brother, we never let anybody know where he's staying. But because the authorities there are quite smart about their work, they had some reservattions about a man whot was seen, and he was a Greek-Egyptian, and he was staying in the home of a brother named William, so an officer and a few of his men were running up the stairs to arrest this man. And this older brother didn't know what was happening, he had dressed himself and prepared his bag and he was off to meet the congregation. As he was coming down the stairway, he heard noise and commotion, and people running up and shouting. So the officer saw him. He said to him: "Does William live on the fourth floor?" The brother said yes - you understood; they went up, he went down. The authorities are still searching for him up til now. What they don't realize is that three years ago he passed on and he is now with his brother in heaven and we'll leave them and continue the search.

Another form of persecution came from this Pope Shenouda. He has someone a __ you could say or a spy placed in almost every government department. And this even applies to the marriage registry area so that if Jehovah's Witnesses request registration of marriage, he could stop them becasuse of the authority that he has. So, for many years Jehovah's Witnesses have not been able to get married in Egypt. So they have to travel to Cyprus because they are not allowed to be married. And this of course is quite expensive and difficult for the brothers because most of them are not well off. Because at that time a marriage certificate would cost about 20 Australian dollars but after this problem began with not allowing us to get married, it went up to about two thousand dollars to travel and register. So the brothers were facing quite a trial with paying to register their marriages and I was the last one who got married in Cyprus. What did Jehovah do to change this? Of course Jehovah did not actually do this but he allowed it to happen.

For the last five years or so, we've been able to register our marriages in the same department. But where is this spy of Shenouda's. I will tell you what happened: This spy who was stopping our marriages lived on the 14th floor of the building that was very close to an airport where they trained new pilots.And of course all the time there were planes circling because they were training new pilots. One of these new recruits took a plane on his own for the first time and he was circling now so that he could land at the airport. After circling a couple of times, he lost control of his plane so he landed unfortunately on the 14th floor of this building right through the window of the room where this man happened to be sleeping and killed him instantly. Of course we weren't happy about the actual case of what the accident but Jehovah allowed it just like any accident could happen to anyone. So we're back to registering our marriages for twenty dollars.

We speak about persecution and the difficulties but there are also so many joys that we receive from the work. For the past two years, we've been allowed to do street witnessing and we're able to enter stores as well - shops - and speak to them but only if they're Christians. We don't take with us witnessing bag and we don't wear a tie. We carry a Bible and couple of tracts just in a plastic bag. We go into a store where we can maybe buy something basic, a bottle of coke, and that way we are able to lead on to a conversation. So this allows us to share in the store witnessing work.

One experience is about a young university graduate who is very strict in her orthodox belief. We met this young girl, we invited her to come for a Bible discussion and she thought: "Oh these Jehovah's Witnesses, I am going to show them, I am going to explain the Bible to them and just on their beliefs.. So she came with the intent of just discussing the trinity. So an hour and half she intends to prove that Jesus is God. But of course she had her scriptures. She gave us an hour to speak first and she started to like what she was hearing. She said: "I'm coming next week." The church found out, they threatened her. They said to her:"When you want to get married we won't pray for your wedding, if you die we won't pray over your soul and we will ban you from taking mass." We said to her: "Don't worry, if you study we can do all of this except for mass." So the church to help her and to stop her from studying sent someone with her, a servant from the church, to help convince her of the trinity.

He was a very nervous person, he stated what we're teaching her as being lies, he made fun of the orthodox faith, and I am going to prove to you now that Jesus is God. She was quite happy about this and she said: "Go on! Prove to them, please." He said:" There's a scripture in the Bible that proves it. Where it says that Jesus when he was baptized there was a voice from heaven that said this is my son, the beloved whom I have approved. That proves it!" She started to argue with him after this. She said: "What are you talking about?" She said this is only scripture that proves otherwise. So he opened the door and left and she continued the study. The church then sent someone else with her, who according to them was even better. This man is a little smarter,he said: " I am not going to speak, I'll listen to you first and then once I heard what you have to say and then I'm going to prove the trinity to you. We did the study from the Knowledge book as usual. He listened to the whole study, he started to ask questions, he got answers, he said: I'm coming next week. too." (applause...It is in't fininshed. Wait til it's finished) He started attending regularly with her - the studies - they hid from the church the fact that they were studying, they finished the Knowledge book together, they were baptized, they were married and they have a child now.

We have another experience from Lebanon. There's a regular pioneer sister there, and her husband is a high officer in the army. So one day, she was out witnessing and she was going door to door as they are permitted in Lebanon. A man opened the door, about 40 years of age. He listened to her and her message and she gave him two magazines at the end of her...So he turned these two magazines and hit her on the face and slammed the door. She went home, her eyes were red and swollen. The husband said:"What happened?" She of course did not want to tell him. She was afraid that he would spoil things and make a big scene. He said;" If you don't tell what happened, you're not leaving the home again" She said: "Well, you just promise me you won't do anything." He promised so she told him the whole story. He said:"You must take me immediately to see this man." She said: "But you promised you wouldn't do anything!" He said:"I did promise you" and he said "I will stick to my word." so she took him to this man. He knocked on the door, the man opened the door, almost fainted at the sight, he thought that she has gone call the police because he hit her. The man said to him "You are a badly mannered man." He said:"This woman came to you nice words from the Bible, she presented you some magazines, and you hit her in the eye. And what really upsets me is that this is my wife." So the man did not know what to do now. He said to his wife:" Give me this two magazines...You will take these two magazines and I am going to give you this whole week and I am coming next week and if you don't know the answers to two questions I"ll ask you, I"ll shoot you then. This man for the whole week hardly slept and almost learned the two magazines by heart. So at the same time the husband, the officer, also read the magazines indept because he has to find two very difficult questions to ask. The following week he also came dressed up in his military regalla with a gun on his side, he was ready to shoot the man, knocked on the door, the man opened the door quite frightened at his coming, the man asked three difficult questions and the householder answered perfectly. He said to his wife:" Another two magazines." Same thing, another two magazines, another week, if you don't know the answers, I am going to kill you. He followed it up with another return visit after a week with his wife, he asked many questions and the man knew the answers. This went on for two months. Both are now baptized and attend meetings on the same congregation.

This next experience is quite emotional, you might need your handkerchief or tissues. It's a family of father and mother and seven children, nine people in total. The oldest son was quite a difficult young boy and gave his parents many problems. So to get rid of this problem, the father sent him to his cousin in Canada. He and his cousin in Canada had problems together as well. He sent a letters to his parents back home saying "This cousin of mine in Canada is an immoral man and he takes drugs." The cousin sent letters back to his parents saying "It's not me that's the bad one, it's the one you sent me, he is doing all these bad things." So his cousin kicked him out of the house. The two fathers, the uncles both then had an argument together, they fought. The problems of persist or increased for the two families so the father and the mother and the six remaining children then left their brother, the uncle, and moved 800 kilometers away. Twenty five years past and they haven't heard anything about this son in Canada. They went to many government departments, the Interior Ministry, the Canadian Embassy to find something out about this son, they could find nothing. Why couldn't they find out? The son in Canada was sending letters to where his parents originally lived which was the same building as the uncle and the uncle who now didn't like his brother was getting these letters and was just ripping them up. So because of this family rift, the uncle is not telling his brother that he had received letters from his son. Because of this evil feeling in the heart of the uncle, the father who is 86 years of age was almost crippled, he's bedridden.

The mother who is about 75 years of age also started to lose her sight because of all the crying brought about by the situation. His brothers and sisters were also having health problems because of this feeling that they lost their brother and had heard nothing from him. This young man who is Canada whose name is Magdy was still sending letters to his father and asking "Where are you? Aren't you replying?" All of sudden, the tone of this letters started to change. He started writing his letters:"Father if you get this letter, please write back to me. I want you and the family to start studying the Bible, God's name is Jehovah, his son is Jesus and very soon they promise us of paradise so I'd like to learn about these things. This time when the uncle read this letter, he ripped it and burnt it as well. And after 25 years, from only four months ago, the parents found out through someone that there was a letter that comes saying that the brother or the son was now a Jehovah's Witness. So the family ran off to Pope Shenouda to ask him who this Jehovah's Witnesses are. Of course this gave Shenouda a chance to answer. The secretary of the pope met with this family. He said: " This son of yours, you will not see again in your lifetime because your son has joined this terrorist organization known as Jehovah's Witnesses. And Jehovah's Witnesses tear families apart. And this son of yours maybe if he ever thinks of leaving Jehovah's Witnesses, they will kill him. So you could imagine the feeling of this family against Jehovah's Witnesses now. One day one of his sisters and she was very upset and thinking about how she'd love to see her brother again. She met a distant relative of hers. He said: " There was a news about your brother who went to Canada. Is he alive, is he dead? What's happening?" she started to cry in the street. She said: " My brother is alive but we're not going to see him again." He wanted to know why. She said : " Because he has joined a terrorist organization known as Jehovah's Witnesses and so we'll never see him again. And if we try to kidnap him and save him from Jehovah's Witnesses, they will kill him." So this distant relative of hers, the young man, started to shout at her in the street. He said: " How can you say such a thing about Jehovah's Witnesses?" He said; "Fifteen years ago I studied the Bible with one of Jehovah's Witnesses. They're the nicest people!" She grunted. She started to shout. She said:" I'm not going to leave you until you take me to them." He said: "I can't go. It's 15 years ago since I last met with them. " Then she said to him: " I'm not letting you go, you have to take me there, I'll scream here in the street until you take me to them." I was the one studying with this man.

About four months ago, he came and knocked on my door, I opened and saw him and remembered the face but couldn't remember the name. His name is William - since in Egypt, anyone named William comes the truth. He said: "Hello Murad, I'd like to visit you but I have a relative of mine with me. I welcomed them, I thought maybe they wanted to study the truth. Instead I found a very emotional young woman come in. She didn't want to shake my hand or greet me or speak to me, very angry and upset. We didn't know what the problem was, my wife and I were trying to calm her down. We brought her a cup of tea, she wouldn't drink. We brought her some cake, she wouldn't eat. We asked her: " So what's the problem?" She said to her relative:" You tell him." He said: " No, you tell him." So I wanted to know what the problem was. She said: " I'll tell you. This man is shamed what you Jehovah's Witnesses have done. You kidnapped my brother, you've taken him and you're not allowing my 86-year old father who will soon die to see his son before he dies." I said: "Are you sure you're talking about Jehovah's Witnesses?" She said: " Yes, and the secretary of Shenouda told us that you are criminals." I said to her: " If he is one of Jehovah's Witnesses, you will see your brother but if he is not you will have to look elsewhere." She said:" No, my brother is one of you." I grabbed the phone and immediately spoke to Canada. She was shocked because in Egypt it is very difficult to call outside to Canada because it is quite expensive. I spoke to an elder I knew there in Canada. I said:" I need some urgent information. Do you have a brother there by the name of Magdy." He said "Not in our congregation but give me a little time and I"ll search trhough all the Arabic congregations in Canada and see if he exists there." He wanted to know the reason for this and of course I couldn't explain matter of fact so I hang up and I took this opportunity so speak to her about why I had done what I had done, who Jheovah was, who Jesus was and what we believe. She said: " Are you trying to tell me that if my brother is one of Jehovah's Witnesses that we will be able to see him?" I said: " Of course." So I had an hour and half to explain our principles to this young girl. She started to forget her problem and began to asks questions about the Bible .She said: "If the church knows that I am here, they could cause me quite some trouble." I said: " Don't worry, I am not going to tell them."

After an hour and a half, the phone rang. The brother from Canada spoke to me. He said : "Yes, we have a brother here named Magdy and for 25 years he's been searching for his family in Egypt and he is in a very depressed state." I said: " Take my mobile number, and after two hours get Magdy to give me a call on this number because I am going to be in the home of his parents. The girl, the sister, began to spring, she hugged me and my wife and began to kiss us. She then drank the tea and ate the cake. I said: " Can you see what Jehovah can do?" I asked her to call her father and mother and let them know that they will soon hear their son's voice. She said: " I can't do this because if I tell my father now that his son is alive, the shock could kill him." She said: " I'll go and prepare dad for the news and then you can arrive later on." After two hours, I took a sister with me and we went to this area.- I will digress a little to show you how Jehovah actually performed two outstanding things here. First thing is he helped us with Magdy, the other thing is that this family lives in a very strict orthodox neighborhood. There are actually ten churches in this small area. After 50 years Jehovah's Witnesses has not been able to enter this neighborhood and preached there. But Jehovah wanted us to enter this neighborhood.- Go back to the family now. We came in to the street, to a very small neighborhood. In this whole neighborhood, this whole area, the news had gone out that Magdy is alive and he knows somebody named Yahuwah - Jehovah. And somebody from Yahuwah - from Jehovah - is coming to tell us where Magdy is.

So as we walk along we could feel all the eyes looking at us. It's good they didn't think I was Saint Murad. I reached the house, third floor, I came forward to his bed. For the first time in many years he actually was able to half sit up in bed. He hugged me on me the chest, he filled my chest with tears.He said: " Is my son really alive? I just love to see him before I die." I said: " Sir, you will hear his voice on the telephone." There were about 25 in this small room, while we were waiting for my phone to ring I started to tell them also about Jehovah. They couldn't believe
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