When New York Times best-selling author Joel Rosenberg saw Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at a meeting in Washington, D.C., in April, he had one question: Would you be interested in meeting with Evangelical Christians?
President Sisi had been invited by President Trump to speak with Middle East experts and thought leaders. Rosenberg was invited to attend.
“He lit up at the thought,” said Rosenberg. “He loved the idea. It was as if he was waiting for someone to ask.” Sisi instructed his staff to coordinate a meeting in Cairo with evangelical Christians — one group Rosenberg said had not yet met with the president. “I thanked him for rescuing Egypt (from the Muslim Brotherhood), for wanting to rebuild the U.S.-Egyptian alliance and for protecting Christians.” Noting that the president had met with other groups, and even sought to meet with the pope, Rosenberg asked for the meeting to discuss a wide range of issues, like terrorism and an Arab-Israeli peace treaty.
Dr. Andrea Zaki, head of all of the protestant churches in Egypt, was a key player in the events. Rosenberg invited Zaki to attend the Cairo meeting and explained, “If we bring evangelical Christians from America, we want to meet with Christians in Egypt. We want to hear your perspective, build a friendship and know how better to pray for you.”
On November 1, 2017, a delegation of evangelical Christians sat in the president’s palace. In his opening statement to the president in Cairo, Rosenberg explained that “We really want to build a bridge of friendship [with] the people of Egypt and the Christian brothers and sisters [here].” President Sisi “very much wanted” that type of relationship and told attendees they could ask him whatever they wished. “But don’t listen to me,” he said. “find out from Egyptians whether we’re moving forward.” It was the very first delegation of evangelical Christians that met with Sisi.
The meeting that was supposed to take an hour took three.
President Sisi sees himself as building on the late Anwar Sadat’s legacy — his predecessor who was assassinated after signing a peace treaty with Israel. “Sisi made it clear that he’s trying to build on that legacy. Egypt has experience now with making peace with Israel and maintaining peace with Israel. Sisi believes they have experience that they can share with other areas in the region.”
The most poignant moment of the meeting came when a member of Rosenberg’s delegation began talking about God’s love for Egypt. He referenced Is. 19:25 which talks about “Egypt my people.” “Out of that, the president asked us to pray for him and for the people of Egypt. He said, ‘I need more prayer than Donald Trump!’ So, that was a special moment for a devout Muslim Arab president to ask Christians to pray for him and the people of Egypt.”
Read more at the Stream.