Why Do These Children Have a Cross Tattoo?


March 2021

Dear Friend of the Persecuted Church,

Did you know that many Christians in Egypt tattoo a cross on their child’s wrist?

This ancient tradition is a declaration of faith – and a source of persecution. I will explain why – and how Christian Freedom International is helping Christian children and families in places like Egypt where they face daily persecution.

What is “daily persecution”? It is denying jobs, or education, or positions of authority. It is authorities ignoring crimes – even brutal crimes – committed against Christians. It is the day-to-day prejudice that Christians experience regardless of the country’s constitution or laws on religious freedom.

Children grow up learning in explicit and subtle ways that they are lesser-than, they are inferior – they are disfavored by society – because they are Christian.

But we can let them know they are precious and made in the image of God.

Egypt is one extreme place where Christians are ‘branded’ for their faith.

You may remember the massacre of Christians on their way to a monastery, ordered off their bus and told to recant their faith. Or the church bombings on holy days aiming to kill the most Christians.  (Will you pray for their families?)

My colleague and I met with surviving family members – and we were struck with their deep faith, especially of the children. They understand they are ‘marked’ by their faith. The daily prejudices silently remind them of this.

In schools, despite the long history of Christians in Egypt – dating back to the Apostle Mark – the education system silences their history and accomplishments.

When Christians are beaten, stabbed, or victims of mob violence, local authorities are unwilling to enforce the law. Instead, Christian victims are required to participate in “reconciliation meetings” that demand the Christians publicly forgive their Muslim attackers. No arrests, no penalties, no restitution for the injuries and damage.

Even the COVID pandemic created an excuse to discriminate. Reports came to us of Christians in Egypt who tested positive for COVID being denied medical care.

How are they identified as Christians? For some, it is the cross. Specifically, a cross tattoo.

But it is more than a tattoo on their wrist. Christians see it as a symbol of perseverance.


The tradition goes back to the time of the Muslim conquest of Egypt. A caliph ruler ordered the cross tattoo to distinguish between Christians and Muslims.

Christians then adopted the tradition for their children to know their heritage. If a family was unable to pay the heavy taxes imposed on Christians, their boys were forcefully taken, converted to Islam and turned into soldiers. In this case, or if Christian parents were martyred, when the children grew up the cross would display their true origin.

Inherited from generation to generation, Christians today proudly wear the cross, even if it costs them.  One Egyptian young man told us:

“I work as a maintenance technician of washing machines and refrigerators. I always go to the homes of our customers to repair their machines.“

“Some of the Muslim customers don’t allow me to enter their homes when they see the cross tattoo on my wrist of my right hand, and that isn’t a strange thing for us. We are hated and persecuted because of our faith.”

Another man said:

“People look at my hand to know if I’m a Christian or a Muslim as my name is a common name among Muslims. The cross tattoo shows that I’m a Christian.”

“Many people become angry when they see the cross tattoo. Some of my Muslim colleagues at work have refused to deal with me. This isn’t a new thing for us. Jesus told us, ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ So we are proud of the persecution for the faith in Jesus Christ.”

Of course, Christians are identified in other ways. Clothes, names, neighborhoods, their words and deeds, attending church, even government ID cards list a person’s religion.

Many Christians live in Garbage City, on the outskirts of Cairo. Children work alongside adults sorting out the city’s trash as sellable or unsellable. (Will you pray for them?) The smell of rotten food wafts through the dirt roads full of massive bags of garbage.

But despite the mounds of garbage outside, the apartments are swept clean inside. Dresses and trousers are ironed, and hair neatly combed.

This is where Christian Freedom International works – with the children of Garbage City.

Through sponsorships, Christian Freedom International connects Christians like you with a Christian in places like Egypt to pray for often, write to regularly, and support monthly.

Sponsorships can help the whole family. The monthly supply of food and supplies, delivered with loving care, can strengthen and encourage the family.

The “Milad” brothers live with their widowed mother in Garbage City. She said:

“We thank God so much for His great blessings in our life. After the death of my husband who was the only breadwinner for us, God hasn’t left us or forsaken us. He has stood up with us. He has arranged good things in our life and made my children to be sponsored. God is faithful. Glory be to Him!”

“I thank CFI and the sponsors of my two children for sponsoring them and sending them the monthly food packages. These monthly food packages really help us so much to meet our monthly needs for food. And I also thank you for providing them with their schools supplies and Christmas gifts and for everything. I appreciate your great love to my children and I love you too. We always pray for you all. May the Lord continue to bless all of you and keep you.”

“Adam” and his sister live with their widowed mother and grandparents. She said:

“My children and I thank CFI and my children’s sponsors for everything, for the genuine love to my children and providing them with the monthly food packages, which help us so much to overcome our difficult circumstances.”

“I make sandwiches to my children from these food packages when they go to their school. I also thank you for meeting the needs of my children from their school supplies and caring them, I really appreciate these wonderful services for them. May God bless you all.“

“Magdy’s” mother, a widow who works in a factory, said:

“After the death of my husband, life became very difficult, I then had to work in a manufacturing paper factory to feed my family but the monthly salary I got wasn’t enough for meeting our physical needs. Our living expenses needed more than my monthly income. But after sponsoring my son ‘Magdy’, our circumstances have been changed into better than before. This food package which ‘Magdy’ receives every month has helped us so much, it has contributed to part of meeting our monthly needs. It’s a great positive change in our life. It’s really a great turning point in our life. We thank God so much for this monthly gift. We thank you (CFI & ‘Magdy’s’ sponsor) so much for the monthly food package, the school supplies and everything. We appreciate you so much. We ask you to keep praying for us, May God bless you and your great ministry.”

Our sponsorship programs do more than you would think. They create a foundation to help in other ways – like this:  As soon as Egypt shut-down from COVID, Christian Freedom International immediately distributed COVID care packages with food and sanitizers to our sponsored children’s families.

A kitchen in a sponsored child’s home

Then we looked for others in great need. Each month, new families get COVID care packages. This gives a little aid – and a lot of encouragement that God sees and cares.


At times we learn that a sponsored child’s family member has a medical or other need. With your support, Christian Freedom International is able to step in to help.

We are so thankful for you. You read this far! That shows your compassion for Christians who live under daily persecution and your desire to help.

God bless you for caring,

Wendy Wright


P.S. Thank you for caring for persecuted Christians. One way that Christian Freedom International helps the persecuted in countries like Egypt is through child sponsorships. You can become a sponsor – or support persecuted Christians through the many ways that Christian Freedom works.

Thank you for praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.