A picture of the cross on top of our church. I have always loved this picture.
The inside of the church building.
Two of our kids with some of their friends at a church camp.
The "church family" attending a conference about "being family".
The church pictured above is where our family sometimes attends church while we are in Egypt. The reason I say sometimes, is because it is a pretty far drive for us, but we have many friends here that we love very much.
We actually have two churches we attend. One of them is an English speaking church that our son Levi is very involved in, and the other is the one pictured above which is an Arabic speaking church.
The one I want to focus on here though, is the Arabic speaking church. We started attending this church back in the summer of 2002. The people were so friendly and welcoming, and the church and the people quickly became a very important part of our lives.
If you were to attend a service at this church, you would experience a very different type of service than you experience here in the States. First of all, the men and the women sit on different sides of the church. This is cultural. They do this in order for the people to keep their minds on the sermon and not on the other gender that might be sitting beside or in front of them.
The second difference you might see is that the people, including the youth, LOVE to sing, and they put their whole heart into it and sing at the top of their lungs. I love this part of the service in Egypt. It is so awesome to hear these people, who are such a minority, sing so loud, not caring who is outside the walls of the church listening. In fact, they want the people to hear the messages of the songs they are singing.
A third difference you would notice is that they are in no hurry to get the service over with, or to rush out of church once the service is over. The sermon always lasts at least an hour. They do not feel like they have gotten what they came for if it is any shorter. After church, it is not uncommon for people to stick around for a couple of hours. You hear about "church family" here in the States, but in Egypt, they are such a minority that this "church family" feeling runs much deeper. They start out getting to know each other when they are just little kids, going to Sunday school together. Then they grow up together and usually end up marrying someone within the church. It is not uncommon for adults to have many friends that they have known since they were small children.
In a way, yes, we are outsiders and always will be, but we have grown to love these people like family. In another way, we are insiders and very much a part of the family, the family of God, that is. We feel very blessed that we have gotten to know these wonderful people who live on the other side of the world, and that God has brought us together with brothers and sisters in Christ that have made us feel at home in Egypt.