Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Final Look at Egypt

My work here at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo is almost finished. I will be leaving next week after serving as the interim director of the Graduate Studies program for almost two years. The picture at the right, note the banner of Tweedy Bird, is of the market area in central Cairo. Two minarets of two mosques are visible against the sky line. This is a popular place for people to visit because it gives one a favor for the way people have lived in this place for many centuries. I need to say that although there were some instances of violence reported while I was here, none touched me, only the friendliness of these people. I found people very helpful, even though I never made much of an effort to learn Arabic.

The new director, Mark Nygard and his spouse Linda, are now scheduled to arrive in late August. I will have a chance to meet them at a conference in late July in Wisconsin. I will be trying to leave clear records, helpful suggestions, and a clean apartment for them. There will be some kind of annoucement on the Global Mission web site to tell you more about them. I can say briefly that he is receiving his Ph.D. in Missiology this spring at Luther seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, and has served many years in Global Mission assignments before. It is good to know that our Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will continue its partnership with the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition in this place.

I am returning to the southern California area and will seek to serve in a way the Bishop, Dean Nelson, would want to use me. I have found that continuing to be challenged by ministry is a very healthy thing for me. I plan to use my spare time to study some more art history and perhaps to volunteer some at a pre-school center. We will see. As I like to say: "Only God knows, and she has not told me yet." This will be the last of my blog spots. I have enjoyed writing them. You can keep in touch with me by my e-mail,, if you wish.
I wanted to leave you with a couple of book recommendations I have just finished reading. The one on the left is by a Roman Catholic missionary who served most of his life in Egypt among the farmers he writes about. It is a little dated, but I found it interesting when we remember that all the great monuments here and all over the world could not have happened without the persistent, often silent providers who were and still are very embedded in the soil. It does not glamourize or romanticize these people, but tells their story with empathy and a sense of the value of work. Even today in Egypt not that much has changed from what he describes. The Egyptian government does assist the farmers in many ways, and as you might expect, the temptation to move to the big city is a major part in modern Egyptian society.
The other book, by a noted Middle Eastern scolar, can help to introduce you to the history of the peoples of this region. It may be a helpful companion piece to the discussions going on in the world today about the Middle East, which are moving away from the kind of confrontational rhetoric which has been prevelant in this first decade of this 21st century. I am glad to see these present trends are seeking a more just treatment of Palestinians and others, often forgotten and abandoned who inhabit this region.
May God continue to bless you in your lives. I feel grateful to God for some many things, but most of all, friends. In Christ, Roger Rogahn