There will be different practical needs facing congregations who are trying to support a continuing migration of Coptic Orthodox out of Egypt into the West. Offering a helping hand in practical ways means a great deal more than hashtags and social media posts. The best way to discover what these needs are is simply to contact local Coptic community leaders and ask. The very act of asking will itself be an encouragement to those who have had to leave behind everything that is familiar for a better life in a new land. Help may be useful in finding schools and housing, gaining permission to work, and learning the language. In this respect the Coptic Orthodox community is no different than most other minority communities.
Most Coptic Orthodox Christians remain in Egypt, of course, and do not wish to leave their own country. The recently bereaved will be cared for, but there are millions of others who face poverty and discrimination because of their faith. It is a long-term problem, not one easily and quickly resolved. However, there are several agencies helping the Coptic community in their ancestral homeland, which are largely funded by Western supporters.
BlessUSA is an official Coptic charity and funding raised goes directly to the Coptic community. St. Marks Universal Copts Care, a UK-based organisation supporting the Coptic community, lists many other charitable agencies working for this community on their website. Most of these programs are intended, not simply to provide immediate and emergency support but to make a lasting difference to the Christian community in Egypt. For instance, Coptic Orphans provides a small income to families who have lost a father. One of its distinguishing characteristics is that it provides for the education of young girls and women, helping them to escape poverty. It is working with more than 10,000 girls and young women, both Christians and Muslims, especially in rural and poor areas of Egypt. Metropolitan Bakhomious, the second most senior bishop in the Coptic Orthodox Church, commends this organisation.
The charities serving Coptic Christians are few and poorly funded compared to the charitable organizations of other faiths. Generally, the Coptic Orthodox are standing alone in supporting the poor and uneducated, those facing discrimination and obstacles to social mobility.
Such terrorism is no longer a phenomena affecting only those far away. In Stockholm and Westminster the same wicked ideology led to death and destruction of innocent people. But immigration, and a globalised world, means that even when an atrocity takes place in another country we are often very close to those who are personally affected; indeed, we may be the ones affected ourselves. In Egypt, the target is not indiscriminate. The Coptic Orthodox community has been deliberately chosen and is bearing a sustained assault. Now, more than any ever, a word of encouragement and consolation, a gesture of practical and financial support, makes all the difference. It is a real expression of the sense that the Body of Christ – and people of goodwill in all faiths – must stand together to resist this global threat to liberty and democracy. If we will not remember and support the Copts, and the other minorities who bear this threat today, then who will remember us when we are left to bear it alone.
(Article photo credit: History of the Copts Facebook page.)
(Homepage slider photo credit: Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Melbourne)