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Cairo Update

Date Written:
  17 February 1998
Subject:
  Still Waiting
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Greetings,

Time passes- less than 2 weeks to go but Alison is still in one piece. She is still quite compact; many people here are surprised when she says that the baby is due in two weeks.

Last week was rather quiet, now that the number of meetings have been cut back for the immanent arrival it seems that things aren't so rushed. I took a meeting last Monday in a different part of the city. Many of the children were from the streets, from what I understand there is a group of Orthodox believers who work with these children to clothe them and teach them and their parents basic hygiene and self-care. They also have S School classes for them. I heard that some of the children's parents had been killed by M extremists.

There were about 70 children present, the lady who translated asked me to take care over certain "theological" differences between the Protestant and orthodox beliefs- a bit like comparing us with Catholics in Britain. The lady who translates works with children full time and she is very good at what she does. Her English needs a lot of improvement, so her translation is usually more of a rough "interpretation" of what she thought that I said!

I spoke to the children about Barabbas, and the fact that he was expecting to die for all of the wrong things that he did. But of course the crowds chose Jesus instead, so Barabbas would have looked at the cross and thought "He died in my place". Of course Jesus died for all of us, but Barabbas was probably the first person to look at the cross and see his redeemer.

I illustrated the point further with a trick with 3 wooden balls with holes in them. Basically the gold ball represents God, the green one represents us, and the black one represents Sin. The balls are threaded with the black one in the middle to show how sin separates us from God. I spoke about the fact that the sin had to be punished but when Jesus died on the cross he took the punishment for us, then I "removed" the black ball from the rope. When this happened the room burst in spontaneous applause, not because of the trick but in thanks to God! I could see by the look on their faces that many of them understood the gospel for the first time.

Afterwards the translator spoke some more. Usually at this point she would ask for a show of hands for those that made a "decision" but she was unable to do this because of the theological differences. Instead she asked the children to pray and thank Jesus for what he did for them. The children simultaneously raised their hands and gave thanks out loud together. I was really surprised by this because this kind of thing isn't usually done by children of this background (can you imagine children doing this from a Catholic background in Britain?).

This has given me the motivation to concentrate more of my talks on the children outside the Church. To the Church children much of what I say sounds familiar, but to these children much of what I said was new- I could tell by looking at their faces. Some looked shocked, some looked close to tears and others were overjoyed. @@The work here is going well. I'm looking forward to sharing in much more detail when I visit in April.

Thanks for your many "thoughts", they are always appreciated and frequently answered!

With our love,

Jason, Alison and Hannah

PS Apologies to some of you who haven't received this update for a few weeks. Somehow the addresses in my Mailbox got mixed-up and your names were replaced. No idea how it happened but it has now been recified . . .

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It's a Fact!

Facts about Egypt:

  • Egypt's population is 66 Million

  • Egypt is four times the size of the UK

  • Only 3% of the land can be used for arable crops

  • Cairo has 18 million people and is growing by 1 millon each year.

  • Cairo is the Largest city in Africa and the Middle East

  • Official literacy rate is only 45%

  • A total of 11 languages are spoken in Egypt

  • Public Debt per person is $790

  • Average annual income is $630

  • Unemployment is estimated to be 17%

  • Religion: Approx. 85% Muslim and 15% Christian

  • Most Christians are affiliated to the Orthodox Church, less than 1% of the population are Protestant

  • There are an estimated 100,000 street children in Egypt

 

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