CAIRO (BP)--As the situation in Egypt grows more uncertain, pastor Johnny Hunt is challenging Christians in America to pray Egyptians will find freedom of a different kind -- freedom that comes from knowing Christ as Savior.
"This is an opportunity for believers to help realize the freedom they are looking for is more spiritual than political," said Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
During a two-week journey in October 2009, Hunt traveled extensively in North Africa and the Middle East. He and his colleagues met with more than 30 Baptist pastors from six nations, visited Southern Baptist workers in the region and traveled to one of the most volatile places in North Africa.
Egypt -- along with other lands across North Africa and the Middle East -- has long been closed to the Gospel message. Hunt hopes political reforms in Egypt will result in an environment in which believers can more freely share the Gospel.
"I'm seeing this as something God is stirring up," Hunt said, "and hopefully will spread from one nation to another to make a tremendous difference."
Once centers of Christianity, Egypt, Tunisia and other North African countries produced some of the faith's most influential thinkers, such as Augustine. However, today only 1 percent of Northern African and Middle Eastern peoples follow Christ.
"Helping those people realize how they cradled Christianity in the first centuries would just be phenomenal and would have a big impact," Hunt said.
"We have got to be concerned such vast numbers of lostness," he said. "It must break our hearts so much so that we see this as an open door "
CAIRO AS A GATEWAY
Egypt's capital, Cairo, has a population of approximately 11 million and an infrastructure that rivals many modern cities around the world.
"If Cairo were to become a genuine democracy with freedom of speech and religion," Hunt said, "it could become a major hub to taking the Gospel to that part of the world."
"This is a chance for a ripe harvest," Hunt said. "We need to pray for there, that God would really ignite their hearts to take advantage of this opportunity to share with people."
Hunt urged Southern Baptists to pray for the work being done in North Africa and the Middle East, and to be ready to support the work God is doing there. Southern Baptists need to "not miss this opportunity to a window that God may be giving us," he says.
Hunt has seen firsthand the spiritual lostness of North Africa and the Middle East and is passionate about partnering with the local pastors and other Christians in the area to reach those who have not heard the Gospel.
"My heart and passion are there -- simply from being there and meeting the pastors and hearing their cry for help and seeing the lostness," Hunt says.
"We could see a spiritual revolution among these people."
Trent Parker is an International Mission Board writer based in Europe.
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