Guardian Angels in Cairo

The news bulletins out of Syria this week have cast a desperate pall over the already bleak Middle East. Observers on the ground in Damascus reported that the Syrian government launched a major WMD (weapons of mass destruction) attack on its own hapless citizens in the suburbs of that ancient city. Early rumors placed the nerve gas death toll at over 1300 victims. The Syrian government has denied the charges, with the insinuation that rebel forces themselves instigated a self-inflicted strike in order to arouse global sympathy for their plight. Who can say? The political situation in Egypt is hardly much better. Muslim Brotherhood loyalists to ousted President Morsi have engaged in street battles with armed soldiers of the military coup that toppled the democratically elected government of Egypt. The death toll is still climbing. Whatever happened to the much heralded Arab Spring of two years ago? Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt—is there no resolution for this desert turmoil? And in the cross-fire, what of the fledgling Seventh-day Adventist church with its small membership in that sea of Islam? Actually, the news is not all bad. In fact, on the front page of the August 18 edition of El Akbar, one of the main daily newspapers in Cairo, were two pictures of the Cairo Seventh-day Adventist church. The article reported that some 300 unruly demonstrators marched up the street past our Adventist church. But not a stone was thrown, not a flame ignited, as was the recent fate of other church premises. Why? The two front page photographs are of a group of bearded Muslim men, who with locked arms, are surrounding the church, preventing it from destruction. Muslim friends who stepped forward in that crisis—as one church official noted, “It is these kinds of people that are the hope of Egypt, and we are grateful to them.” “I will do a new thing” is the promise of the Almighty enthroned above this earth. If ever this civilization needed the intervention of its Creator and Redeemer, it couldn’t be more needy than right now, could it? All summer long we have been claiming God’s promise in Isaiah 43:19/44:3 to “do a new thing” by pouring His Spirit on His people. The recent newspaper front page in Cairo is a reminder that the friends of God are all over the earth, in every communion and every community. Which in turn must become a reminder to us here at Andrews University that the “new thing” we have been calling upon God for isn’t only for us—it is truly His promise for all. How relentless is God’s love that longs to rescue and save as many of His earth children as He can! After all, those two newspaper photographs—the object of God’s compassion isn’t the building in the pictures, is it? The object of God’s love has to be those Muslim strangers who stepped forward to protect that little church. Guardian angels indeed. So pray on.

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