Egypt #3: Wonders
by Deena Candler
After a couple of busy days visiting churches, today was a day to experience Egyptian history and culture. We began with a visit to the pyramids of Giza and the sphinx. This is the only remaining wonder of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, and it truly is magnificent.
We then set off for the Cairo Museum. It is a treasure trove of so many wonders of these ancient kingdoms, including many of the contents of King Tut’s tomb. But for me, the one thing with the greatest impact was a visit to the mummy room and looking into the face of Pharaoh Ramses the Second. Ramses was the Pharaoh who in around 1240 B.C. took on Moses (and God) and refused to let the Hebrew people leave Egypt. We know well what followed—that God orchestrated the greatest salvation event of the Old Testament with Moses leading them through the parting of the Sea of Reeds. There is something about looking into the face of the person who worked in such opposition to God—and be so aware that God was working then through real people. And we are surely reminded of that as we see the work he is doing here today through real people.
After a lovely lunch, we made a brief stop in old Coptic Cairo. As a Christian, it is impossible to visit here and not be reminded that in the West we are so new to the Christian faith. The Hanging Church which we visited dates to the third century! But even more, it gets its name because it hangs over the remains of a first-century church. Beginning with the apostle Mark, the good news of Jesus Christ has been consistently shared in Egypt since around 64 A.D.
One of the reminders we see when we visit these sites is that prior to that, shortly after his birth, Egypt took in Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as refugees when they had to flee Israel because of the death threats from Herod. One wonders what would have happened to all of us if Egypt had not provided this safe place for the holy family. The Church in Egypt is quite proud of the fact that they received this refugee family so many years ago. It gives us pause in the midst of the current crisis facing so many in the world. What is our calling today with so many refugees at so many borders? May we be missing opportunities to welcome Jesus?
—Deena Candler, for the team