When Jesus appears, transformation happens:
When Jesus Comes, Everything Changes: An Advent Experience in Cairo
“When Jesus appears somewhere, that changes the whole society.” Father Samaan, priest of the St. Simon Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo, Egypt, is not speaking theoretically. He’s describing what he’s seen.
Nearly a century ago, thousands of Egyptians from the rural villages of Upper Egypt moved as economic migrants to Cairo. Unskilled and illiterate, many of them became garbage collectors, gathering trash from homes and apartments and receiving a small tip in return. To supplement their meager income, thezabaleen, as the trash collectors are called, began to separate the organic waste, which they fed to their pigs, from the glass, paper, and metal they could recycle.
In 1970 the zabaleen, marginalized by their unsavory image and considered the bottom rung of society, were forced to settle in a collection of tin shacks in the shadow of Cairo’s Muqattam Mountain. The poorest, filthiest and most dangerous area of the capital, the Garbage Village of Muqattam was a jumbled rubble of garbage, people and pigs. There were no churches, schools, electricity, water, medical care or markets. Disease was rampant. Drugs and alcohol dulled the senses and fueled the violence.
But in 1974, a young zabaleen asked a Christian businessman whose trash he collected to explain the Gospel to him. Most residents of Garbage Village were nominal Christians, but they knew little about true faith. After hearing the Gospel, the young trash collector convinced the businessman to teach a Bible study in his shack in the village. To people at the bottom of the social scale, the message of a loving Father was captivating. Within a few years, there thousands of sincere believers in the village, so the Coptic Orthodox Church built a church in the village. Free to select their own priest, the villagers selected a layman — the businessman who had brought God’s love to them — who was subsequently ordained by the Coptics under the name of Father Samaan.