For the past three years Steve Flora has served in Cairo, Egypt, as senior pastor of Maadi Community Church, an interdenominational congregation of expatriates from up to forty different nationalities worshiping under an outdoor canopy fifty-two weeks a year. He and his family of five have every intention of staying.
Steve writes, “Revolutions have a way of clarifying priorities. Having a front-row seat to watch the dramatic events unfold each day in Egypt’s Tahrir (Freedom) Square was simultaneously exciting and unnerving. There was a palpable sense of hope in the streets of Cairo punctuated by some alarming incidents of violence.
“As the pastor of an international church, I have witnessed limits on religious freedom firsthand. We know that direct conversations with Muslims to accept the gospel are not allowed, while converting to Islam is permissible and encouraged. Each year some members in our church are barred reentry into the country because of their Christian activities. That is just an inconvenience compared to the persecution that Coptic Christians endure. Their ID cards must show that they are Christian. Movement into better jobs has been limited for most. They live in fear and frustration.
“Now we wait to see how post-revolution Egypt will unfold. No one knows how or if religious freedom will change in the future. Will the fundamentalist group in favor of restrictive Sharia law move toward control, or will the buoyant optimism of Christian-Muslim cooperation become reality? We will have to wait and see, and waiting is hard! Our only recourse is to fall to our knees and place our lives and futures in the hand of the One who controls it all for His purposes. After all, His freedom is the only one that is truly liberating!
“In the middle of all this upheaval, the emotional roller coaster of revolution and counter revolution, in the middle of the exhaustion caused by sleepless nights, too much CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera, and being burned out on adrenaline, one thing has remained. One thing, steady, constant, reliable, trustworthy: God’s love for Egypt. He is able and will carry out, no matter the circumstances, His great plan for this country, part of which is laid out in Isaiah 19.
“God’s name, his actual name revealed to Moses right here in Egypt is ‘I AM.’ What a name! How much more steady and reliable can you get than that?
He is. He’s not going anywhere. He is present. He is right here, right now, with us.”