Published: 00:00 GMT Standard Time - Tuesday 15 November 2005
Christmas Appeal: Transforming a Garbage City
By the time you are reading this, Christmas will be just a few weeks away. Soon our thoughts and worship will be focusing on the star, the shepherds, the angels and the birth of the Lord Jesus.
Egypt: a place of refuge for our Saviour...
But not long after He was born, Mary and Joseph had to take their young child and flee to Egypt to escape the murderous wrath of King Herod.
For two thousand years, Christians in Egypt have delighted in knowing that their homeland once provided a place of refuge for the Saviour.
Over the next few centuries, Egypt became a great stronghold of Christianity, in particular the port of Alexandria which was a centre of Christian learning. But when the Muslim armies conquered in the seventh century, Egyptian Christians began to experience discrimination, oppression and persecution. Many converted to Islam to escape the pressure they were under. But others remained faithful to the Lord, and thus a vibrant, Bible-believing Church exists today in Egypt.
Still suffering for Christ
Christians in Egypt still suffer discrimination and persecution in the twenty-first century. As a result many live in desperate poverty, barely able to feed and clothe their families.
The poorest of all are the thousands of Christians who have no home but the rubbish heaps which surround Cairo, the so-called "garbage cities". Here they are born, live and die. Somehow they eke out a living from the rotting, stinking refuse, sorting it with their bare hands. Ignored by the government and authorities, their only hope is to receive help from fellow Christians.
The photos in this letter were taken at one of the poorest and most crowded of these garbage cities. Here thousands of Christians live in pitiful, heart-breaking and appalling conditions. There are no medical facilities and only one school, which is grossly inadequate for the number of children. There are some 1,200 Christian children living in this garbage city who cannot go to school.
Pillar of Faith School
Barnabas Fund is adopting this garbage city and, with the help of the Lord, will be seeking to bring about the transformation of the lives of the Christian community. As a first project we have pledged to provide the funding needed to build a Christian primary school here. It will be called Pillar of Faith School, a name chosen by the Egyptian Christians to show how important their faith is to them. The plan is for a two-storey building with eight classes of children ranging in age from 4 to 12. As is normal in Egypt, the classes will be large, with 50-60 children in each.
Can you help this Christmas?
As you prepare to celebrate this Christmas season, please remember in your prayers the needs of the garbage city Christians in Cairo.
If the Lord lays it on your heart to make a gift to help the Pillar of Faith School, be assured that your generosity will bring real hope and joy to Christian brothers and sisters in great need.
If you would like to make a gift in lieu of a Christmas present to a friend or relative, we can provide a special gift certificate, indicating that a gift has been made on their behalf to assist suffering Christians.
Yours in the service of the persecuted Church,
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo
P.S. If you have recently given a gift to Barnabas Fund, please do not feel pressured to give again, but do lift up the garbage city Christians in your prayers.