Egypt Day 1: Drinking from a Fire Hose
by Tom Widmer for the team
Greetings from Cairo. The team arrived safely last evening, a bit travel weary but full of excitement for the journey. We eagerly await the arrival of our final three team members later today.
Our day was spent at the seminary, the Evangelical (Presbyterian) Theological Seminary of Cairo. Started in 1863 by Presbyterian missionaries from America, it has been educating pastors and other church leaders for 150+ years. Our day here was a full one – full of new friends, encouraging stories, shared laughter and tears, and testimonies of God's faithfulness. We met with seminary leaders, professors, students, Synod staff and pastors of large and small churches. We heard stories about established churches growing, new churches starting and visions for the future. As one team member said, "it was like drinking from a fire hose!" But what a delightful fire hose.
As we debriefed at the end of the day, the overwhelming perspective everyone had was the faith and faithfulness of the Christians in Egypt. In a country of 10% Christians, it is not easy to be one here. Persecution is part of the fabric of life. The degree ranges – from losing a job because of their faith to losing their lives. But their passion and love of the Lord give them the strength to endure, share the good news and forgive.
Take Moody's story as an illustration. Moody is a second year M Div student at the seminary. He lives in Minya, the stronghold of Christianity in Egypt. Shortly after the Muslim Brotherhood took control during Arab Spring, several Christian cities were targeted for violence. Churches were burned, but they didn't stop there. In Minya, the Brotherhood targeted individual Christian families as well to instill fear and conversion to Islam. One evening, Moody, his twin sister and his grandmother were frightened by sounds of a mob outside the house. A crash and flash occurred in the house, erupting in flames. In panic, Moody carried his invalid grandmother out as his sister escaped just behind them. Once outside, their lives were threatened by the Brotherhood as their house burned savagely behind them. They escaped the angry mob thanks to God's grace. Today, they still are without a permanent home. But, Moody's faith and trust in God precipitated his going to seminary to be a pastor and hopefully return to Minya with his own church. And, his heart will be to reach out to others, including Muslims.
Indeed, our experience today was like drinking from a fire hose. But what a sweet drink it was.
Tom for the team