“Friska… friska…” That’s what you’ll inevitably hear on the shores of Alexandria. “Friska” is a popular wafer and honey treat commonly sold on Alexandria beaches.
It’s summertime! Summer is family time for Egyptians. Extended family members usually enjoy travelling together to the various resorts throughout the country. From the North Coast Mediterranean Sea with its beautiful turquoise waters to a stunning underwater experience in the Red Sea, Egypt’s unique year-round sunshine and shores are a special treat for locals and tourists worldwide.
At least they are when it’s safe enough to come to Egypt! Things certainly seem more hopeful this year, compared to our past three summers, and we’re praying for the sense of security we enjoyed several years ago.
Our nation has been through a lot in the last three years. From the post-revolution havoc of summer 2011 when we saw prisons being broken into and a curfew imposed, to the summer of 2012 when the Muslim Brotherhood were in power. Then, on to the summer of 2013 with the June 30 Revolution, the ousting of Morsi, and retaliation by the Brotherhood with terrorism and the burning of churches.
This summer is ushering in some brighter hopes, with a new president
and an opportunity to return to stability. Yet bombings have continued and the whole region is ill-at-ease in the face of threats from Islamist groups like ISIS.
Serving neighbours during Ramadan
In the midst of all the unrest, Christian Egyptians have a great way of turning their trials into opportunities to serve. Ramadan has coincided with summer in the past three years and, in spite of attempts by the Muslim Brotherhood to stir sectarian strife between Christians and Muslims, Christians have responded in love particularly during the month of Ramadan.
Churches have organised free evening Iftar (Arabic “break a fast”) meals on large tables in front of their churches, and Christian families have been inviting neighbours into their homes. It’s been an amazing scene to witness.
“There is no way they can succeed in separating us. My best friend is a Christian. We are one.”
As I was waiting for our children to finish their swimming lessons, I chatted with a Muslim mum and the topic of sectarian strife came up. She immediately said, “There is no way they can succeed in separating us. My best friend is a Christian. We are one.” The Egyptian church has succeeded in displaying a glimpse of our Saviour’s love to our fellow Muslims.
My prayer is that the Church will continue to do so, even when political tensions lessen and the economy improves. May we continue to recognise our calling to be salt and light to a desperate nation. And may we continue being living letters for Christ to neighbours who are desperately searching for answers.
An article in one of our local papers today read: “The upcoming years will witness a tsunami of atheism.” Is the local church prepared? I certainly hope and pray that we will live in a way that is worthy of the precious calling we have received.
Carpe Diem, Coram Deo… seize the day in the presence of the Lord.