by NEIL GREENLEES
A PARTY of young people from Hillsborough
Parish Church experienced life as part of Egypt's Christian
community recently when they spent a week in the 'Land of the
The young people, led by Youth Minister
Johnny Beare, helped a team of Sunday School teachers run a
daily Children's Camp at the Port Said church of Pastor Raj.
The Pastor, who has spent time in
Hillsborough with his wife Premilla, is an old friend of the
Mr. Beare said sadly the group was left with
the impression Christians were at times 'not treated very well'
"Often they are overlooked for the better
jobs and housing, and in some cases persecution can be quite
severe," he continued. "The team were challenged by the strong
faith of believers despite these very difficult situations.
"Many stories of faith in the face of
persecution challenged and humbled us as we thought about the
freedom we so often take for granted."
The Youth Minister also said Egyptian
Christians had a 'strong faith' which was especially evident
among very young children.
"It was amazing to see God unite us as a
team, despite the cultural and language differences," he added.
"It was also a joy and privilege to spend so much time with Raj
and Premilla. They are a truly inspirational couple.
Of course no trip to Egypt would be complete
without a visit to the famous pyramids and enigmatic sphinx at
Giza on the outskirts of Cairo.
The party enjoyed a fascinating visit to the
site which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
They also spent time in Coptic Cairo, a part
of the city which encompasses the Babylon Fortress, the Coptic
Museum, the Hanging Church, the Greek Church of St. George and
many other Coptic churches and historical sites.
The Ben Ezra Synagogue, Egypt's oldest dating
back to the Ninth Century, is located in the area.
The world renowned Ain Shams University was
also on the group's itinerary as was a sobering visit to
'Garbage City' originally manned by the `Zabaleen' or 'Garbage
People'. There was also a trip to the port of Alexandria on the
Added to all of this, Mr. Beare said, the young people had
simply enjoyed meeting the Egyptian people and experiencing
their culture and food. "Thank you to everyone who supported the
team financially and in their prayers. Without you the trip
would not have been possible," he concluded.