Lessons from Bible Billboards in Egypt

Lessons from Bible Billboards in Egypt

February 1, 2012 by

On Sunday my church had a visit from the general secretary of the Bible Society of Egypt, Ramez Atallah. His visit coincided with the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the Egyptian revolution. But rather than a typical discussion of passing out Bibles, he offered a lesson in marketing.

In Egypt the Bible Society isn’t allowed to evangelize, so they advertise. They’re not allowed to give Bibles away, so they sell them.

Atallah admitted he freely borrows from the business world, saying “If it works for Pizza Hut, it can work for us.” That includes using billboards and even home delivery to spread the gospel.

While he faces opposition, he turns that obstacle into a solution. He spoke of three ways opposition has been helpful to his work:

1) Refining Faith
“Opposition to your faith makes you a better Christian,” Atallah said. “Otherwise you give up.” Having to defend your faith forces you to know it better and to live it out. If you’re not truly committed, you wouldn’t take the risk. “Hope flourishes in difficult circumstances,” Atallah said.

2) Creating Cooperation
“Opposition encourages cooperation,” Atallah said. He routinely works with the Orthodox and Catholic churches and all the materials he produces need to be acceptable to all branches of Christianity. It can be difficult work, but the result is unity among these divergent branches of faith in a predominantly Muslim society.

“Independence is a product of prosperity,” Atallah said. He went on to explain that here in America a disagreement in church can easily result in splitting the church because it’s relatively simple to move down the street, buy your own building and start a new church. “In Egypt, we don’t have that luxury,” he said. They’re forced to get along, to learn how to cooperate.

As the church in America continues to splinter over every disagreement, we seem to have lost the value of cooperation.

3) Increased Creativity
When facing opposition, creativity is the key to survival, Atallah said. The limitations imposed on the Bible Society of Egypt have forced them to be more creative in finding ways to share the gospel. That’s included selling Bibles to avoid charges of proselytizing, offering home delivery and making the most of cultural insights.

Pray for the Bible Society of Egypt
I never expected a marketing lesson during church, but there it is. I would ask that you pray for Ramez Atallah and his work with the Bible Society of Egypt. Here are three things you can pray for:

  1. Strength and encouragement for the Christians working in Egypt. Since the revolution many Christians are emigrating and they’re losing many of their brightest and best leaders.
  2. That Christians would continue to work together to spread the gospel in Egypt. Atallah described a prayer gathering in November as the largest praying and worshiping event in Egyptian history when 55,000 Christians came together in a church founded by garbage collectors, one of the lowest classes in Egyptian society. The 12-hour event was broadcast live via satellite. While there is much to be concerned about in Egypt, there’s also much to celebrate.
  3. Pray for all Egyptian citizens in these uncertain times. Pray that the rights and freedoms of all Egyptian citizens would be protected, for safety for all and provision through difficult economic times.
Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks


When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998 and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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