A Coptic Committee, a Blindfolded Boy, and the Hand of God

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Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Ramez Atallah, the General Director of The Bible Society of Egypt, has given me permission to share this letter. It is at once educational, inspirational, and a call for prayer for the Coptic Church of Egypt.

On Sunday November 4th, I attended the extremely moving ceremony where the new Patriarch (Pope) of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt was chosen. The Nominating Committee had narrowed the candidates from 17 names down to five, after which 2,406 Coptic leaders and laymen prayerfully elected three people, two Bishops and one monk. 

After much fasting and prayer, by most Copts, the leadership of the Church met at the Cathedral and a young, blindfolded child put his hand in a jar containing the names of the three candidates. He drew out one name, which was then announced as God’s choice for the new Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church. 

Bishop Bakhomious, the acting Patriarch, was trembling as the child handed him the name, wondering whom God had chosen, and he choked up as he saw the name of his own disciple Bishop Tawadros.

Pope Tawadros studied at the University of Alexandria, where he received a degree in pharmacy in 1975.  He managed a state-owned pharmaceutical factory until 1986, then studied theology, following which he was ordained priest in 1989.

The new Patriarch has been a longtime friend of the Bible Society. Several years ago, he presided over the opening of our new Bookshop in Alexandria. He has hosted many of our “Kingo festivals for Children,” and has enthusiastically encouraged our Post-Literacy program having a real desire to help young people interact with the Bible. He even set up a Bible School in the Bishopric where he serves. When asked two days ago on TV to give a message to his flock, he encouraged them to read and be guided by the Bible.

Please pray for Pope Tawadros, as he takes on an extremely heavy responsibility at a time when many Egyptian Christians are afraid and wanting to leave the country. His appointment has been a source of new joy and hope in the church. By drawing lots as the Apostles did in Acts 1:21–26, Egyptians believe that this is God’s choice for the church in Egypt at this time.

Also pray for our Publishing Department as we scramble to produce a special edition of the Gospel of Mark in time for the consecration of the new Pope. He is considered the 118th successor of St. Mark who founded the Church in Egypt in the first century. Our prayer is that this gift of God’s Word will be a source of blessing to all who attend.

With warm greetings and much joy,

Sincerely in Christ,

Ramez Atallah
General Director
The Bible Society of Egypt