Greetings from Egypt. I hope that all is well. I want to take this opporunity to say a few words about the refugee ministry which the ELCA supports here in Cairo. The picture I am sending is of some students in the school at St. Andrews who came from the Sudan in the several years. They sang some Christian songs for us at Friday worship. There are less refugees coming now, in part because some areas of the Sudan are not at war. However, the situation is such that the Sudanese here in Egypt will need to remain. So the refugee program has shifted to providing the services these people need for the long term. A workshop at the church encourages artists among them to produce goods to be sold. Language classes in English and in Arabic help the families to get along here. A cirriculum has been devised which prepares students for formal education in Egyptian schools of higher education. Often classes include students of various age levels because the many could not have a regular schedule before in their troubled home land. There are over 100 students at the primary school level and over 50 in the secondary grades. Three ELCA personel assist in this program, a couple who has previously done refugees work in Palestine and a young woman who directs the adult education program. Write me if you are interested in more information and I will put you in touch with these people.
Dr. Hans Kung spoke in Egypt at the America University in Cairo on Sunday, December 2. His book "Islam, Past, Present, & Future" has recently been translated into English. He had already written works on Judaism and Christianity. His hope is that the world will move away from being "a clash of civilizations" (Islam and the West), and reach back to the foundations of the three religions to see what we share in common. He expresses this hope (maybe it could be an Advent prayer for us all)
No peace among nations without peace among the religions
No peace among the religions without dialogue between the religions
No dialogue between the religions without global ethical standards
No survival of our globe without a global ethic, a world ethic, supported by
both the religious and the non-religious.
Now retired after a long and often controversial career as a Catholic theologian, he heads an institute in Germany called the Global Ethic Foundation. His is one of the voices dedicated to lasting peace in a world so fractured by hatred and violence. He writes that we need to change from a self-righetous arrogance to a critical awareness of the perplexing interdependece of present-day society. Though well aware of the present situations, he encouraged us not to lose hope.
May hope come with this season when we await the coming of the Christ child. Roger