Missions Trip to the “Land of the Pharaohs”

Norbert Lieth, Egypt

From 31 August to 12 September in 2019, evangelist and our Egyptian coworker Elia Morise, his wife Ingeborg, my wife Elke, and I went on a missions trip to Egypt. A field report.

Our agenda included visits to various places, preaching in churches, attending a conference, meeting with local Christians, and sightseeing. The first stop was Cairo, the capital of the Nile, with over 20 million inhabitants. It’s full of contrasts: rich and poor, modern and ancient, clean and dirty, religious and secular. The traffic is chaotic, but it works; the Egyptians are very friendly and like to laugh.

We visited a Coptic district. Much of the city’s garbage is collected and sorted there, so, accordingly, the smell is in the air. The advantage for Coptic Christians is that they make a bit of money from it, and extreme Muslims are reluctant to enter the area because it’s impure for them. We saw biblical stories chiseled into the rock walls, and a large fish, the symbol of Christians, carved into stone on the road. We visited the head priest, an old, very faithful man. Then we were led to their meeting place. We couldn’t believe our eyes: terraced benches with room for 17,000 people who gather once a week.

Within the next few days, invitations to visit with local families followed. The Christians there are cheerful, disciplined, diligent, and contribute a great deal to building the country and spreading the gospel. The government appears to be aware of this and is skirting around them to a certain extent under the current president. Nevertheless, believers must be on guard; there is always the danger of being targeted by extremists.

Various church services followed, as well as a beautiful wedding that Elia officiated. He’s well-known in this country and is mobbed accordingly. His phone rings day and night, and he is tirelessly on the move; ready to help, advise, organize, and lead people to Jesus.

One church has a printing plant connected to it. As a ministry, we were able to finance a machine for them, which was proudly presented to us. For our part, we are grateful for the many donors who co-financed the project.

We visited the pyramids, huge monuments to death. We remembered the God of life, who sent Joseph into Egypt, who made the people of Israel prosper there, who called Moses, and even called His Son to Egypt. Life, in the midst of a world dominated by death and the attempt to overcome it; the ancient Egyptian art of embalming bears witness to this.

The Nile is a beautiful river, the sole lifeline in a nation surrounded by desert. It’s easy to imagine how baby Moses drifted into the reeds in his little basket, and was discovered.

After a few days, we drove through the desert to Minya, an Islamic stronghold. We were monitored, interviewed, and accompanied by police accordingly; partly for protection, and partly for observation. But the policemen were also very friendly.

We visited a different printing plant, which we had also been able to co-finance. Another, newer building was needed: we had been able to procure and deliver a Heidelberg printing press, as well as a cutting and folding machine. Sixteen young Christians have found work as a result, and are now able to look after their families. But, above all, the Word of God is being spread.

At the place where the conference was to take place, the ceiling had collapsed two days previously. It was good that a service hadn’t been taking place at the time. We had to move to another building, but it turned out to be better because it was bigger and more modern. A few hundred people came, and a large youth group was present. Over 21,000 people watched over live stream. The topic that the organizers had asked me to cover was, “The Second Coming of Jesus, Illuminated by the Old Testament.” I admittedly felt a little uneasy, since this couldn’t be done without proclaiming Israel. Would Muslims be in the audience? How would the Christians react to Israel? I was able to get beyond my concerns and felt very free. Afterward, we only heard positive feedback regarding Israel. Once again, we were invited to visit local Christians, an architect who had sold us the building that houses the print shop. A very nice family; he owns property, with the firm intention of building a retirement home on it.

We continued to Ismailia, the city on the Suez Canal. On the way, we visited a family that runs a factory and does a lot for their country. In general, the Christians made an impression on us as very Spirit-filled, open-minded, and lively. They don’t allow themselves to be thwarted, love Jesus and His message, and reach many outsiders with this love. At the door to one church’s prayer room were the words, “Praying on your knees is more victorious than an army of marching soldiers.”

Elia and his wife had lived and worked in Ismailia for many years. Their church was there, and we were allowed to conduct some services there. The meeting space is on the fourth floor of a house, which was impossible for the elderly or disabled to reach. That’s why we decided to finance an elevator years ago. It’s now in operation, and the church members are very grateful. We were also able to provide for a kitchen, and to equip an additional church hall on the fifth floor. It’s wonderful that the Lord has opened doors for us in the Arab world, and that we have an associate like Elia with so many contacts. And friends who support us in this work. To see how former Muslims have converted is fantastic.

Hope for people without hope. Completely veiled women who show no trace of skin, even wearing gloves in 40℃ (104℉) heat, just because they are afraid of going to hell. And if they get to paradise, they will only be made available to men there. Men and women without certainty. A common saying among the Muslims is, “God knows.” Thus, they express their personal ignorance. “Have you been forgiven?” “I don’t know, Allah knows.”—“Are you loved by Allah? Are you going to paradise?” “I don’t know, Allah knows.” We want to convey the certainty of Jesus to these dear people. “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

On the banks of the Nile, we saw a plaque which says, “You can’t get to the other side of a river just by standing there and looking over longingly.” We saw many Egyptian Christians who decided to do something: get in a boat, drive up, lend a hand. A great example, for us as well.

Midnight Call - 03/2020

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