Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Garbage City and the Cave Church

They are called the untouchables. There are almost 50,000 of them, they are almost entirely Christian, and they literally live in the dumps.

In Cairo, for one reason or another, the Muslims will not work as trash collectors. Perhaps it has to do with their religious beliefs or maybe because as the majority population, they just refuse to do such a disgusting job. Whatever the reason, the job falls to the Christians.

Driving through the dump I discovered that this wasn't just a place to work, it was where they lived. You can imagine the incredible stench produced when garbage from a city of 16 million is piled together and bakes in the sun in temperatures above 115 degrees. Yet the Christians complete their work, many with smiles on their face.

I ponder the reason for these smiles. Surely it isn't that they enjoy their circumstances. Perhaps it is because they have discovered the difference between happiness (which is a temporary emotion) and joy (which is the assurance of their salvation and anticipation of being with Jesus).

Daily deliveries to Garbage City

A Child at Play in Garbage City

But, as he always is, God is at work. One must drive through Garbage City to come to the cave church. A massive church cut deep into a rock of sheer limestone. You can tell from the photos how big the place is. What you can't see is that the church conducts services every day of the week, filled to capacity.

Cave Church Panoramic

Cave Church from halfway up


Rose said...

Thanks for the photos of the cave church, Ryan. My daughter is in Cairo with YWAM and as she was telling me about visiting the church I found your link through google so I could see what she was talking about - so v cool!!
Cape Town

Anonymous said...

My son was in Cairo beginning Feb2011. He visited the church and told me about the wonderful blessing it is to the garbage city christians. Amazingly he also said that the "garbage city" is the cleaner part of Cairo! He told me the history of the church from 100 years ago and I would love to read the history but not sure where to look on internet for the information. May God bless those people for they know His Word and even in a country that treats them like garbage they rise up for God is a True loving kind and so very much alive!!!

Jnorhlee said...

My husband and I visited the cave church about 5years ago. We were taken there by a Christian taxi driver. The driver took us to various places all day. Coptic Christianity is alive. We stayed for the evening service. The picture you showed of the cave doesn't do it justice. When there are thousands praising God it is magnificent. We are so insulated from the reality of what it is to be a follower of Jesus. I think that their faith is so real because the price they pay to beam Christian is very high. Yes they have joy on trash mountain. How many of us also have that joy?

Anonymous said...

What was most amazing was the dignity of the people in the 'garbage city' They were so elegant, welcoming with a genuine smile. Our guide found someone from the monastery to give us a tour. He was humble and proud of his heritage at the same time. As it was expected to tip for such a service, when I offered a tip he politely declined to accept and said if I felt like it I was welcome to make an offering at the boxes kept for donations. It felt like being in the land of the 'good samaritans'. I witnessed a beautiful way of life of a people who have peace and contentment among strife and greed. Wish I had the time to attend their service which is attended by every inhabitant of the city everyday. What a beautiful community!!