We just got back from Cairo, Egypt yesterday. It was a business trip with lots of meetings taking up almost all of our time. But we return very excited by what we saw. Three-Worlds is going to be focusing heavily on Egypt in the future, and we were there to meet with the primary leaders in the Church of God in Egypt. We were also there to celebrate and honor Franco and Bea Santonocito who have spent 60 years in ministry with the Church of God and are now retiring and leaving Cairo for their home in Rome, Italy.
We are all extremely happy with what we saw in Egypt. The Church of God is doing very well and a new generation of leaders is emerging. For those of you that read Mosaic, I write about the church in Chapter 5. Since I conducted that interview a year and half ago, the Church is in even better shape!
This new generation of pastors in their 30's and 40's are being allowed to take up key positions of leadership. The are pastoring churches and make up the council that I met with. They are sharp, self-sufficient, and very committed. In our meetings we committed ourselves to encouraging them and partnering with them in the future.
As you may recall, three-worlds is committed to 1) engaging young people 2) raising up a new generation of empowered, accountable leaders, and 3) creating inner-connectivity within the Church of God in Europe and the Middle East. All of that is on Egypt's agenda as well, so this is a very good match.
We also meet with the Cairo Christian Fellowship--the church Jamie attended when she was growing up in Egypt. These people have become like family to me over the years and the connection continued to grow on this trip. We discussed the future of the CCF and we were happy to learn that they are ready for new challenges.
And we had a wonderful celebration of the Santonocito's ministry in the garden of the villas that the Church of God owns in Cairo. The Santonocito's were presented with gifts, a plaque, and a letter of appreciation from the General Director of the Church of God, Ronald Duncan.
We are worn out, but very encouraged by what we saw. For Jamie's mother, it was a sort-of-homecoming. It's the first time she has been back in 11 years. I know she had a blast and it was great to have her with us. She was very helpful as we tried to reconstruct and deconstruct the decisions of the past, so that we can make the right decisions for the future. Very good stuff.
Here are some photos:
Photo: Marco with Giza behind him.
Photo: This time it was a father and son outing only. Marco and I went to the Pyramids together and then to the National Museum. No girls allowed.
Photo: You can see the size of the stones that make up the Pyramid. It took over 30 years to build.
Photo: At one time, the surface was all smooth limestone and at the top it was gold which could be seen for miles away. By the time Jesus passed through Egypt, the Pyramids had already existed for 2,600 years.
Photo: The Pyramids have existed 4,600 years. Marco has existed for 7.5 years.
Photo: Behind the Sphinx are the Pyramids. In front of the Pyramid is Pizza Hut. No kidding.
Photo: Marco is such a great traveler. Egypt is chaotic and it doesn't bother Marco at all. On the way to the Pyramids, our car was attacked as 4 guys tried to force our driver to pay money for no reason (seriously). Marco and I thought it was super-fun. It didn't phase him a bit. Neither did the traffic. Neither did falling and scraping his knee on one of Cairo's crumbling sidewalks. Totally not phased. That's my boy!
Photo: Unlike so many places in this globalized world, Cairo's skyline remains remarkably untouched in contrast with other developing countries.
Photo: For many years, the beautiful Shubra church did not have a pastor. Now it has a young, Lebanese pastor.
Photo: Recognizing the Santonocito's after 60 years of hard work.
Photo: Jamie's mother Sharon joined us on this trip as a representative for Global Missions and Church of God Ministries. Here she is presenting the Santonocito's with a plaque of recognition. This was Sharon's and Jamie's home for 10 years.