When I was in Egypt, I visited a little girl named Reda. She lives in a tiny home with 3 rooms. One room is a makeshift store, the other are tiny, dirt-floor rooms with cement walls where she and her family live. She was one of the most joyful kids that we met. She said her favorite Bible story was the story of Moses, her favorite color was purple, and her favorite thing to do was to go to school and study. The translators said she was the top in her classes. When we asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she said an engineer.
In Egypt, our group felt a sort of "celebrity treatment". Every metal detector I walked through was set off, and every time, they waved me through, just because I was a very stereotypical American looking American. The Egyptian women right behind me did not get the same benefits, even though I was a guest in her country. If I dropped a fork, someone would run over with one before I could even look up. It sounds exaggerated, but it's true, and honestly a lot of that is just the wonderful, kind people of Egypt who reflect God's image in such beautiful ways.
If I wanted to become an engineer, I could literally sign up for classes tomorrow and begin the journey to become an engineer. My home is warm and my water is clean. Reda faces the opposite, but she's just like me. She's a little girl with dreams and goals. I have a voice, I have endless opportunities, I have the world at my fingertips.
Reda does not.
Something that is also difficult to wrap your mind around, as an American with bounds of freedom, are the laws on Christianity. It's not illegal to be a Christian in Egypt, but it's illegal to convert to Christianity from Islam. Your religious affiliation is on your identification documents. When you're born in Egypt, you take on the religion of your father. So, if your great, great, great grandparents were Christians, and your father was raised a Christian, you would be born a Christian. If your great, great, great grandparents were Muslim, you would be a Muslim. You could not legally convert to Christianity. If you are Muslim, and your children would need be raised Muslim. Christian women can marry Muslim men because their children would be raised Muslim, but Christian men can't marry Muslim women, because the children would be raised Christian. If they want to marry a Christian, they have to legally convert to Islam before it's legal to marry. Christians face religious discrimination, persecution, and martyrdom regularly.
In Cairo, there's a part of the city called "Garbage City" where thousands of Christians have been pushed out by the Muslim community. They live in houses similar to the village, except they live in garbage. Piles and piles of it. In the streets, in their homes, where they eat, where they sleep. They bring it in on trucks, because it's the only means for them to survive. They sort through garbage to find pieces of glass and plastic for money. That's how they feed their families.
I kept asking myself why are these people who are just like me living a life so different than my privileged life.
Then I remembered this whole year: God has over and over and over reminded me that I have a voice. And not only do I have a voice, but I need to use that voice. We have to.
Not for us, not for ourselves, but for people who don't have a voice: for people who don't have our privileges, for people who aren't treated as well maybe because of where they were born or the color of their skin. We have to speak for Reda. We have to speak for the people we meet. We have to speak for the disadvantaged and broken and forgotten.
I'll never understand why I was born here and Reda wasn't, but God used that precious, beautiful person made in His image to show me we can use our voices, and it would make so much difference if we all started crossing bridges to love people and help be a voice.
Comments are closed.