Two Oases in the Desert
Cairo is a big city with 18 million people living there and two million people coming into the city for work. We visited just two churches, but it was a long day, leaving the seminary at 9:00am and returning about 7:30pm, with quite a few hours of driving.
Today being Sunday, we had the privilege of worshiping at the first church we went to, Moassat El Zakah. To get there, we drove an hour and a half, turned off the main paved road onto a divided dirt road full of trash in the middle.
We then turned onto a narrow road and were dropped off next to a lot packed with items from the litter that were to be recycled. The church was around the corner. This church, like many of the church plants in Cairo, is in an area of extreme poverty, illiteracy, disease, children having to work instead of going to school and drug addiction. To enter the church, you go up three steep steps and go into the room rented by the church for their activities.
The pastor of this church is Ekram Atta Fekry. He graduated two years ago from ETSC, is married, has two children that are five and two years old and has a passion for outreach. Starting with one family two years ago, there are about 100 families now involved with the church. There are about 100,000 families in this densely populated area. Moassat El Zakah is building a church next door and hopes to have the 1st floor done next year, with the final building having three floors. This church has Sunday School for kids on Fridays with 200 to 300 kids, youth groups, women's meetings, and a nursery every morning except Friday and Sunday with 50 kids. Outreach to the community is key to their plan for expanding the Kingdom of God including adult education classes and clinics with doctors from Presbyterian churches in Cairo.
The Sunday service started with some very lively contemporary music led by a talented young man named Maryo. The joy by the 40 or so people in that building was quite a contrast to the scene outside. One of our team, Rev. Deena Candler from Caregiving of West Hills Church in Omaha, gave a moving message on the hope we have in Jesus regardless of our circumstances, which seemed to resonate with the congregation.
After lunch and a long drive, we finally arrived at the second church, Imbaba Ezbet El Mofty, at 4:30 in a similar neighborhood as the first church. We were all feeling a bit worn out but that was quickly changed when meeting with the pastors and their families. The children had smiles that just wouldn't go away and the pastors were passionate about their work. We met Pastors John and Malak and Seme.
The vision for Imbaba Ezbet El Mofty is Habakkuk 2:14 "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." These two churches are giving the Living Water that Jesus promises us, even in these desperate places. They are like two oases in the desert that are growing to cover the earth with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. Praise be to God!
First Presbyterian Church of Boulder