Devastating terror attacks have failed to deter Egyptian Christians from gathering for worship, according to a Christian TV network.
Hundreds of Christians met for a two-day worship festival within 15 miles of the terror attack that claimed the lives of 28 Christians in May.
The Days of Harvest event at Maghagha in the Minya governorate was one of at least six large-scale conferences that have drawn Christians for worship and teaching and have been screened live by satellite TV network SAT-7. All the festivals have taken place since the summer, when security threats forced churches to cancel any large meetings offsite.
It was from Maghagha that a convoy of vehicles, carrying Coptic Orthodox families, was travelling to a nearby monastery on May 25. Around 10 masked gunmen fired on the convoy and then shot victims at close range.
Three major conferences have been held in different towns in the volatile Minya area. The Show Me Your Glory ll conference on September 29 united all of Egypt's evangelical denominations and was held in Deir Abou Hinnis in the south. Two Days of Harvest conferences, organised by the influential Kasr El Dobara Evangelical Church (KDEC) in Cairo, were held in Etsa and Maghagha.
Rachel Fadipe of SAT-7 UK said: 'Crucially, these festivals have been organised after detailed consultations and arrangements with Egypt's Interior Ministry and security forces. Nevertheless, Egyptian Christians' willingness to travel after a wave of terrorism since last December shows their depth of faith and refusal to surrender to fear.'
As well as the gatherings in the south of the country, large festivals have also been held in September at Wadi Natroun, 100 km north of Cairo. The One Thing prayer festival gathered several thousand young people, while the Freedom Meeting conference gathered members of Egypt's Brethren congregations. At the end of October, Count it Right, a family festival that can attract as many as 10,000 people, will be held at the same venue and transmitted by SAT-7.