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The Garbage Village(Largest Christian church in Middle East constructed in Cairo garbage dump)
Intentional Disciples ^ | February 5, 2008 | Sherry W

Posted on 02/05/2008 9:30:25 AM PST by Mrs. Don-o

I have heard tales of an amazing work taking place among the garbage workers of Cairo since I was an undergrad. So it was very encouraging to read this article from the February Lausanne World Pulse: Transforming Lives in Cairo's Garbage Villages.

Villagers collect garbage from city apartments and recycle it. They are the most despised group of people in Egyptian society. They are not paid by the government; however, they receive small tips from the people whose garbage they collect. The rest of their income comes from recycling garbage. It is one of the most ecologically efficient operations in the world as 90%of the garbage is recycled. But the human cost is terrible. Muqattam, now a thriving town of 30,000 began in 1970, when a community of several thousand Coptic garbage workers were forcibly resettled in an abandoned quarry at the foot of a small mountain.

Thirty years ago, Fr. Samaan, a Coptic Orthodox priest "gave up his job in the city to become an ordained priest in the garbage village. When he began, the village had no churches, schools, electricity, water, medical care or markets. It was just garbage, people and pigs. When thousands were brought to a saving faith in Jesus Christ, the first thing they wanted to do was build a church—and Father Samaan became their priest. Today, the garbage collectors are filled with love and motivation from God. This is what changed their village. The village is a bustling, hopeful community of thirty thousand people. They still collect garbage; however, they now have three schools, a hospital and many churches.

Blessing in Caves

The churches are located in caves that were blocked by rubble. It was only when one small cave was discovered that residents realised they were surrounded by caves. While that first cave was being converted into a chapel, residents found another one that is now used for church services of up to four thousand people. They soon realised that another cave could be transformed into an enormous amphitheatre to seat fifteen thousand people. “Regular church services are held there and people come from all over Cairo—not just from the garbage village—to worship with other Christians,” Rebecca explains. “It is the only place, other than the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, where Christians can meet in large numbers in Egypt.”

Father Samaan now pastors the largest church in the Middle East and one of the best known in Egypt: St. Simon the Tanner Coptic Orthodox Church in the Mokattam garbage village.

The cave churches have become something of a tourist attraction as you can understand when you see this series of pictures of this extraordinary place and its extraordinary community.


TOPICS: Current Events; Ecumenism; Orthodox Christian; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: cairo; coptic; egypt; egyptianchristians; orthodox
Go read the original, and click on the links from Lausanne World Pulse. If you know how to post pictures (Mrs. CyberKlutz doesn't, unfortunately) please put some up. Praise God!
1 posted on 02/05/2008 9:30:28 AM PST by Mrs. Don-o
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To: alleluia; Salvation; tutstar; WKB; NYer; Coleus; narses; Pyro7480; DaveLoneRanger; Gamecock; ...

Good News, for once


2 posted on 02/05/2008 9:38:57 AM PST by Mrs. Don-o ("...especially those who have most need of Thy mercy.")
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To: Mrs. Don-o
Extraordinary story! Here's one picture anyway -- I'm finding FR very slow, with proxy errors -- I assume increased activity with Super Tuesday.


3 posted on 02/05/2008 10:10:13 AM PST by maryz
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To: maryz; Cheburashka; kawaii; Cronos

Thanks! Maybe others who know how to “do” images will help us out as well.


4 posted on 02/05/2008 10:47:37 AM PST by Mrs. Don-o ("Beauty demands as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness," Hans Urs von Balthasar)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Left: Interior view of the Virgin Mary;
Right: St Simon the tanner Cathedral showing the projection screen.


Left: A Sanctuary within the Church;
Right: Biblical carvings in St Simon the Tanner's hall.


Left: Interior view of the cave now used for spiritual meetings and events.
Right: Entrance to St Mark's Church and the upper floor Hall showing the decorated dome of the church.

5 posted on 02/05/2008 11:05:20 AM PST by Between the Lines (I am very cognizant of my fallibility, sinfulness, and other limitations.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o
Well, the proxy errors seem to have slowed down -- so here's another:

At the far end of the village, awaits you an unexpected, stunning place; a vast open space lying in the bosom of the hills, with dramatic colored carvings all over the mountain. The carvings were done by a Polish Artist who begun working there several years ago. They represent stories from the Bible such as the Holy Family journey and the Nativity scene.

Everyone really should go to the story of St. Simon the Tanner though!

6 posted on 02/05/2008 11:11:03 AM PST by maryz
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To: Mrs. Don-o
Pope Abraam The Syrian
and Simon the Tanner
The Moving of the Mountain

7 posted on 02/05/2008 11:33:28 AM PST by Between the Lines (I am very cognizant of my fallibility, sinfulness, and other limitations.)
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To: maryz

WoW!


8 posted on 02/05/2008 3:17:37 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o (Point of clarification.)
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To: Between the Lines

St. Simon pray for us!


9 posted on 02/05/2008 3:18:52 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o (Point of clarification.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...
What a beautiful example of Christ's love at work among the poor. I just began reading this book, and HIGHLY recommend it. This book gives great insight into the Coptic Christians, both Orthodox and Catholic. The author, Mark Gruber, O.S.B., is a Benedictine monk of St. Vincent Archabbey and an associate professor of anthropology at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.

One reviewer wrote:

As a student of Father Mark Gruber O.S.B. at Saint Vincent College, I heard much about how he studied in Egypt for his doctoral dissertation. In due time, while browsing the shelves in the gift shop for the Basillica at the College, I found this book on the shelf. Having heard many good reviews of it from others, I decided to purchase it. Indeed, it was by far a most excellent purchase.

This narrative details the events of his life while he lived among the Coptic monks of Egypt for a year doing research for his doctoral dissertation in Anthropology. However, this is by far more than a story of just his life. It is a story of grace, faith, and coming to know God more through our world. Through all of his experiences in Egypt, Father Gruber's faith was strengthened. The Copts, contemplating God and loving him whole-heartedly, taught Father Gruber not only about their customs and theology but also showed him a living example of true faith in God.

Father Gruber stresses at end of the work how important his time in Egypt was to him. What he gained is not only visible in his personal life. Indeed, as I said above, I have experienced him as a professor. After reading this book, I have realized that many of his lectures in my Biblical Archaeology (Anthropology) class come from lessons he learned from the Copts in Egypt.

In the end, this "spiritual journal" brings to Americans the rich spirituality of the Coptic monks in Egypt. This is by far an excellent book for anyone who wishes to view our Christian faith from a wise, monastic perspective and to be challenged to live out our faith in God more fully.

I am not an avid reader but this book is like a roller coaster ride of west meets east. It is filled with humor, suspense and prayerful devotion. I can't put it down!

10 posted on 02/05/2008 3:26:37 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer
I met Fr. Gruber about 16 years ago! He told a fascinating story which I quoted on another Free Republic thread just yesterday.
11 posted on 02/05/2008 4:00:06 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o (Point of clarification.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o
I met Fr. Gruber about 16 years ago!

Then you will definitely enjoy this book! I am still at the very beginning. Shortly after arriving in Egypt ( he intentionally chose to enter through Alexandria ), he met a young man who turned out to be a Coptic Catholic. Victor told him there were many Catholics in Alexandria. He also told him that Egypt becomes more progressively Islamic all the way into Cairo. The following day, Fr. Gruber (not wearing his clericals) went down to the beach where he began building a sand castle. This intrigued a group of youths (aged 14 - 16) who came to watch with great interest. Apparently this is not a popular activity in Egypt. The boys watched with interest until one of them became very disturbed and exclaimed in Arabic "el kanessa" (a church). The boys accused him of trying to spread Christianity in Egypt by building a representation of Christian churches! Fr. Gruber was very surprised. In the book he says:

Without their knowing anything about my being a Catholic priest, I had been "discovered" as it were. The first person I met was a Catholic Copt who asked me very quickly if I am also a Catholic. The second encounter I had was with Muslim boys who accused me of trying to build a church. So it's really an interesting place of discovery for me: seeing the character of these people and how they tend to interpret everything they experience through the prism of their faith. In seconds, the boys kicked down the towers of my castle and ran away ... triumphant, or afraid?

And this is just the beginning of the book! What happens next is so intriguing, as he tries to gain access to the Coptic monasteries through the Patriarch. I just know you would enjoy this book!

12 posted on 02/05/2008 4:29:01 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

great find. Thanks. Bookmarked for later.


13 posted on 02/05/2008 6:18:45 PM PST by IrishCatholic (No local communist or socialist party chapter? Join the Democrats, it's the same thing.)
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To: NYer

I see amazon.com has it very inexpensively. I’ll get it for Lenten reading. Thanks!


14 posted on 02/06/2008 6:46:08 AM PST by Mrs. Don-o (Mackerel snappers here.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

bflr for later reading


15 posted on 02/06/2008 7:40:17 AM PST by fishtank (Fenced BORDERS, English LANGUAGE, Patriotic CULTURE: A good plan.)
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To: maryz
The carvings were done by a Polish Artist who begun working there several years ago.

I was just thinking that the pictures reminded me of the salt mine cathedral in Poland.


16 posted on 02/06/2008 8:44:17 AM PST by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
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To: Straight Vermonter

I see what you mean! I never heard of the “salt mine cathedral in Poland,” though — is there a story there?


17 posted on 02/06/2008 9:01:31 AM PST by maryz
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To: maryz

Yes!

http://www.googobits.com/articles/2668-the-wielizka-mine-an-underground-cathedral-in-salt.html

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnhjKD4pezw


18 posted on 02/06/2008 9:09:10 AM PST by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Very interesting. Amazing what God can do, isn’t it? He just needs willing souls to help accomplish His purpose.


19 posted on 02/06/2008 9:49:35 AM PST by Marysecretary (GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o; Dr. Eckleburg; Kolokotronis
when a community of several thousand Coptic garbage workers were forcibly resettled in an abandoned quarry at the foot of a small mountain.

You know, stories like this about the persecution our Christian brethern face at the hands of Muslims globally makes me wonder why I spend so much time debating about the differences between the various rites in Christianity
20 posted on 02/06/2008 11:25:57 AM PST by Cronos ("Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant" - Omar Ahmed, CAIR)
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To: Cronos; Dr. Eckleburg; Kolokotronis
"...makes me wonder why I spend so much time debating about the differences between the various rites in Christianity"

If all our debating showed an understanding that we all belong to Christ --- it could be a loving as a family "debate" around the Thanksgiving table.

If all our minutes of debate were matched one-for-one with minutes of prayer, what prayerful people we would be!

And --- although I know JimRob does not allow fundraising on Free Republic ---- if we had a PayPal fund into which we paid $1 for every half hour FReeping, to be distributed worthily as Christian alms, how cool it would be for us "Macedonians" and us "Corinthians" to compete in doing good for the Christians who live in the garbage dumps.

Just thoughts of mine, this Lent.

21 posted on 02/06/2008 2:44:47 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o (Mackerel snapper.)
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To: Straight Vermonter
Wow! Thanks for the links! I can't believe I never even heard of it -- of course, I was a bit taken aback even by the mentions in the article of "green salt" and "bronze salt"; I never knew much beyond Morton's or Diamond Crystal.

Those carvings are wonderful, and the article said they were just done by anonymous miners! What amazing work!

22 posted on 02/06/2008 3:38:36 PM PST by maryz
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.


23 posted on 02/29/2008 7:29:55 PM PST by Coleus (Abortion and Euthanasia, Don't Democrats just kill ya?)
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To: Mrs. Don-o; maryz

Thanks. That was interesting.


24 posted on 02/29/2008 7:44:33 PM PST by Califreak (Hangin' with Hunter-under the bus "Dread and Circuses")
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