Sunday, August 30, 2009
Brother from Egypt
For about a year I enjoyed a friend at my workplace who had come from Egypt. His training was as an accountant but his credentials meant nothing to the Ontario Association. (This is a real problem in our receiving talented individuals from abroad.)
We were building component parts for a Chinese power facility and needed many extra workers. Hany had been laid off from a job as a hotel book-keeper and desk person, and he needed something to fill a gap.
At our first encounter, he found me at a remote desk at lunch reading from F.B. Meyer and his exposition on the Epistle to the Hebrews. "Oh, you read him," he said. "He is one of my favourite teachers, only in Arabic." An Egyptian Christian!
That started a summer of rich discussions, sharing of experience and realization of brotherhood which had come about because of Christ. He was a computer buff and taught our children much, giving them their first computer. He accompanied me to an exporter's warehouse and worked with me on the shipment of the Chinese products. We worked together well and the Company let us go to it.
I heard of the persecution which his family had undergone for their faith in Cairo. Once he had been picked up by police for no real cause and given the interrogation treatment for a couple of days. Eventually his family had emigrated to the Toronto area and he and his wife and children followed friends and opportunity to Kitchener-Waterloo. He was active as a lay minister in an Arabic Christian fellowship in Waterloo. This one got into some difficulty with the local Muslim community for advertising and hosting an Arabic evangelist whose message was entitled, "How I escaped the errors of Islam and found peace in Christ." What a commotion! Letters to the chief pastor, to City Council, to the local newspaper. Accusations of hatred, bigotry, injustice. And all the apologies, once again, were supposed to come from the Christian community! The man was simply giving a testimony.
Hany was a talented pianist and praise and worship leader. He gave us numerous Vineyard music CD's. I gave him a copy of Moffatt's translation of the Bible - a particular gem to each of us.
Occasionally the two of us would reflect on our journeys from professional designation to factory worker. I recall his smiling comment once, "Life sucks, Doug, but God is good."
Then, just as quickly, he found another opportunity and was gone. A rare gift for a time to me. I know that I will see him again:
9And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
10And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.