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Cairo Update

Date Written:
  13 July 1998
Subject:
  Teaching the Teachers
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Dear Friends,

We have passed the latest heat wave, the thermometer next to the computer tells me that it is now a bearable 30 Degrees (88F). A couple of weeks ago reports stated that it reached 43 C in some areas and I can believe it.

For three days last week I went to a conference centre called "Beyt El Khalarse" (house of the saved) on the outskirts of Alexandria. The conference was attended by about 130 Sunday School teachers mainly from Upper Egypt. I was invited by an Egyptian lady who is involved in full-time children's work and she wanted me to introduce fresh ideas and techniques to the delegates. I've attended conferences like this before but usually as a daily event.

I've never liked speaking to adults, I find it so bland compared to speaking with children. Children are enthusiastic, eager to learn and show their emotions freely; adults just sit and stare and I often wonder if I'm getting through. Speaking to Sunday School teachers is different since I just treat them like children! I say that I'm going to show them a presentation that I do for the children then do it! No extra preparation involved. They loved the presentations since they are so different to what they are used to doing.

A typical Sunday School lesson in a Protestant Church would be singing, followed by a bible story then a memory verse. The main emphasis is on memorising the facts but little on the application to their lives or the day-to-day living out of His word. Visual aids and object lessons are seldom used. Of course this is completely different to how it's done in the West but I've come to understand that there's lessons to be learnt on both sides- the Egyptian children's bible knowledge is surprising when compared with their counterparts in England.

A surprising thing about Sunday School teachers in Egypt is that nearly all of them are in their late teens or early twenties, and once they get married they finish. I didn't meet any married Sunday School teachers at the conference- this means that there is a frequent turnover of teachers in each of the churches- when the older ones leave they take their knowledge and experience with them and it's up to the new teachers to learn over again. This is why there are frequent conferences and seminars for the teachers and the new generation is ready for new ideas.

At the conference I had a number of opportunities to show various presentations using the sketchboard along with various card and rope tricks. Afterwards I taught them how the tricks were done and encouraged them to do them for the children and use the sketchboard ideas by using marker pens and large sheets of paper. After the first presentation I was mobbed- many wanted their photo taken with me, others wanted me to give them ideas on how to do various lessons. After this I couldn't walk out of my room without being surrounded. To be honest I found the attention stifling- the Egyptians are always warm and hospitable but this was a bit over the top! Nevertheless I was happy to be their to serve them. Many of these teachers later become pastors and leaders in the church and so I know that the wider church will be served as a result.

A big advantage to the location of the conference was that it was next to the Mediterranean Sea- literally meters away! This is possible because presumably there are no tides or severe storms in the area. The weather was much cooler and for the first time since leaving England 6 weeks ago I slept with a blanket over me. Ahhhh!

Now that I'm back in Cairo I've had to get used to the heat again- but it's nice to be with Alison and the girls.

That's all for this week,

Toodle Pip,

Jason

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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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