I'm sitting in he Dubai airport on my way from Cairo to Manila. A three hour and forty-five minute layover to reflect on my first trip to Egypt. Here are the top 10 thoughts bouncing around my exhausted mind.
1. THE POWER OF KINDNESS. While boarding our Dubai to Cairo flight, Pastor Shaddy Solomon and I were behind a burka-covered woman who was struggling to herd three small children onto the plane while dragging four oversized carry-ons. As Shaddy helped her with her heavy bags she said, "you must be a Christian." The obvious implication was that no man from her religion would lift a finger to help a woman. The kindness of God leads people to repentance (Romans 4:2). I hope we do a better job of demonstrating his kindness to our "cousins" in the Middle East.
2. THE PAIN OF POVERTY. I hate to admit it, but I think I have gotten used to the poverty in Manila. It doesn't bother me like it did 25 years ago. Cairo takes poverty to a whole new level, and my eyes and heart were reopened to the brutal pain of poverty. I hope I never get over it. God's word has so much to say about the poor. And most of it is about what we should do to help them.
3. THE PROSPERITY GOSPEL. Many prosperity preachers do more harm than good. Most Egyptian believers are poor in material goods but rich in faith, and there is much the wealthy West can learn from them.
4. SAUDI ARABIA FLAGS AT TAHRIR SQUARE. Difficult to understand how Egyptians can tolerate Saudi money meddling in their national politics. I can't imagine foreign flags at a political rally in DC or Manila, but they are ubiquitous in Tahrir Square.
5. NO PRIVATE FAITH. Muslim men are not ashamed to publicly express their faith. They kneel and pray five times a day in offices, malls, restaurants, sidewalks and every other place you can imagine. They don't do the personal private religion thing. All public. No shame. I wish Christian men would be so bold.
6. THE BEST BREAD IN THE WORLD! Man should not live on bread alone, but if he does, it should be fresh Egyptian bread.
7. A MOSQUE ON EVERY CORNER. Cairo has Mosques everywhere. And many were built with Saudi oil money. This fact reality tempts me to trade my wife's gas-guzzling truck for a Prius. (I'll keep my VW.)
8. CHRISTIAN SUPORT OF ISRAEL. Christians in the Middle East don't understand the Western church's blind support of the state of Israel, especially when Israel consistently persecutes Arabic-speaking Christians. I don't understand it either.
9. CHURCH AND STATE. When the church becomes more political than prophetic it loses it's voice.
10. THE POWER OF PRAYER. When Catholics, Coptics and Evangelicals pray together, something good is bound to happen. On our last night in Cairo, we attended a 2-hour prayer meeting at a Presbyterian church in Tahrir Square, along with 1500 believers from every church flavor in Egypt. This prayer meeting has been happening every Monday for over 10 years. All this prayer probably had something to do the original revolution, which seems to have been hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood. But prayer is more powerful than protest and while thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters were outside protesting, 1500 believers were inside praying for their nation. Who do you think ultimately wins that battle?