Egyptian social institutions and government are dominated by Islam and all too frequently cover up crimes committed by Muslims, as the recent killing of a Christian soldier by military officers attests.


On July 20th, Egyptian soldier Youssef Zarif received a call at 2 a.m. from the Ministry of Interior. They asked him to come down to identify and retrieve the body of his cousin, new army recruit, Joseph Reda Helmy. Joseph, a Christian, had just completed his training for the military’s special forces police unit where his cousin Youssef also serves.

The statement from the Egyptian military on Joseph’s death asserted that he died of an epileptic seizure; case closed. Joseph’s family however, didn’t believe that report after seeing his broken, severely bruised, and battered body. A doctor who performed the autopsy confirmed their suspicions when he refused to uphold the military’s position and reported that the cause of death was foul play and not natural. Joseph suffered extensive injury and trauma to every inch of his body and the most severe occurred on his back.

The body of Joseph Reda Helmy. (PC: MorningStar News)

What we do know is that Joseph arrived at his new military assignment at 2 p.m on July 19, and by 8 p.m. was found beaten and dead. He was well-known in his hometown as a quiet, strong young Christian man and was well-loved by Christians and Muslims alike.

Joseph’s priest, from his church in Kafr Dawish village, in the Beni Suef Governorate south of Cairo, honored his former church member by sharing with World Watch Monitor. “Joseph was a very good young man,” Fr Hatour Boushra told World Watch Monitor. “He was very modest, honest and loved by all. He had a strong relationship with God.” Joseph was also planning to be married this October. Fr Boushra added, “We ask God to comfort all the members of his family and give them the patience and strength to bear the pain of his loss. The killing of Joseph isn’t the first incident like this in a military unit, but I hope it will be the last. He was targeted and killed by those criminals because of his faith in Jesus Christ, so our Church considers him one its martyrs. Jesus Christ reminded us: “I’ll send you as lambs among wolves, so what is expected when a lamb enters a herd of wolves? They will prey on him.”

Joseph Helmy, 22 (PC: World Watch Monitor)

Three officers who are suspected of killing him are under investigation.

This incident underscores the difficulty and danger Christians in Egypt face in living out their faith. One of Smyrna’s ministry partners in Egypt, “Jahira”, produces drama, video, and satellite TV broadcasts that reach into Muslim and Christian homes with Christian content. Please pray for her effectiveness and protection in the midst of Islamic hostility toward Christians in Egypt.

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
— Philippians 4:23

Pray —

9/1 — Pray for the comfort of God to rest on the Helmy family grieving the death of their beloved Joseph.

9/2 — Pray that the mourning family members of Egyptian martyrs, like Joseph, will know the power of Christ’s resurrection and presence in their suffering.

A man rides a donkey through the Egyptian village of Kafr Dawish, Joseph’s hometown. (PC: Paul Jeffrey)

9/3 — Cry out to God for His sustaining strength for Egyptian Christians and their families facing persecution. “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” (Jeremiah 31:25)

9/4 — Pray for opportunities for the Gospel to be shared compassionately and boldly with Muslims by His faithful sons and daughters in Egypt.

9/5 — Pray that Christians in Egypt will remember that their citizenship is found in heaven, where God promises to transform their bodies to be like His glorious body. (Phil. 3:20-21)

9/6 — Ask the Lord to protect and defend our partner in Egypt spreading the gospel through satellite radio programming as well as a special ministry to the Christian women of Egypt.

9/7 — Ask God for revival to spread throughout the Coptic Christian Church in Egypt for His glory.

9/8 — Pray that Christians in Egypt will seek first His kingdom and righteousness in all things.

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