On the blog West for the West Wing I saw this story about a Coptic Orthodox priest in Cairo.
FATHER Sama’an has possibly the most unusual parish in the world. It is located on Muqattam Mountain, home to 30,000 garbage collectors — or zabbaleen — in Cairo.
But this extraordinary man has brought a wonderful beauty to the ashes of this area teeming of narrow dirt lanes — a parish church that is a modern marvel not just for the garbage collectors, but for all who visit it.
How he came to his faith and ministry is an astonishing story.
“I WAS living in Cairo, and was a counselor in one of the big companies. I had lost one of my precious watches. It was very expensive and I was very sad.
“One day, I received a knock at my door. A man in a long dirty dress, carrying a bag, asked me if I had lost something. I asked him how he knew that I lost something. I was afraid of him.
“The garbage man told me he had asked at all of the apartments in the building and everyone had denied that they lost something and when I took the garbage from here and while separating the garbage at home, I found something. ‘So, sir, please tell me what you lost.’ I told him I lost a watch.
“He took it out and said, ‘Is this the one you lost?’ I was shocked. I told him to please come in and asked him his name and where he lived. I also asked him, ‘Why did didn’t you take the watch for yourself?’ He replied, ‘My Christ told me to be honest until death.’ ‘You are a Christian?’ I asked him and he said he was. I didn’t know Christ at the time, but I told him that I saw Christ in him. This watch was very expensive, it cost about $11,000.
“I told the garbage collector, ‘Because of what you have done and your great example, I will worship the Christ you are worshipping.’”
So began the Christian life of one Farahat, who eventually became an Orthodox priest and took the name Father Sama’an, after an 11th-century saint.
The article goes on to recount stories of miracles associated with the Cave Church, and there’s more on the Cave Church website too.
The Coptic Christians of Egypt have been suffering persecution and discrimination for generation upon generation. The present crisis is regarded with hope by some, but fear by many others.
FOR the peace of the whole world, for the welfare of the holy Churches of God, and for the union of all, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord have mercy.
O LORD, incline thine ear, and hearken to me; for I am poor and needy. Preserve my soul, for I am holy; save thy servant, O God, who hopes in thee. Pity me, O Lord: for to thee will I cry all the day.
Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for to thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul. For thou, O Lord, art kind, and gentle; and plenteous in mercy to all that call upon thee. Give ear to my prayer, o Lord; and attend to the voice of my supplication. In the day of my trouble I cried to thee: for thou didst hear me. […]
O God, transgressors have risen up against me, and an assembly of violent men have sought my life; and have not set thee before them. But thou, O Lord God, art compassionate and merciful, long-suffering, and abundant in mercy and true.
Look thou upon me, and have mercy upon me: give thy strength to thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid. Establish with me a token for good; and let them that hate me see it and be ashamed; because thou, O Lord, hast helped me, and comforted me.
Psalm 85(86):1-7, 14-17.