As the situation in Egypt begins to find some stability, members of the ELCA’s Global Mission office in conjunction with our companions have determined that things have calmed enough for missionary personnel to return to their work in Egypt. Over the next few weeks the six missionaries will return are:
Rev. Peter Johnson, Erin Odgers, seminary intern Paul Schick and his wife, Stephanie, who will return to their work at St Andrew’s Lutheran Church of Cairo and with the St. Andrew’s Refugee Services (StARS).
Rev. Dr. Mark and Linda Nygard, who will return to their work at the Evangelical Theological Seminary.
Please keep them and their families in your prayers as they begin to find how God will continue to use them in this new reality.
Tensions continue to rise in Egypt following the public cry for Egyptian President Mubarak to resign and the subsequent unrest as the pro-Mubarak supporters clash with protestors. In response the US State Department has called for all US personnel to evacuate the country.
Amidst our prayers for a just and peaceful resolution to this troubled time in the life of the Egyptian people, we raise a call of thanksgiving that all ten of the ELCA deployed staff working in Egypt have safely been evacuated. There two-day long journey took them from Egypt to Istanbul and finally to St. Paul, Minnestota, where they are thankful to be safe but eagerly await the opportunity to return to their work and the ministry partners they left behind.
To learn more about the missionaries and their situation, read the ELCA Missionary Blog Hand in Hand.
Our prayers and concerns for the situation in Egypt range from concern for our missionaries, our companions, colleagues, and friends. The ELCA has a long history of engagement in Cairo, sending mission personnel, supporting congregations and partnering in development work. St. Andrew’s Refugee Services has been a program that has received long support from World Hunger funds and deployed mission personnel, interns and volunteers from the ELCA. The center provides a safe haven, educational opportunities, legal assistance and a community to refugees living in Cairo from throughout Eastern Africa and the Middle East.
The location of St. Andrew’s Refugee Services is in the compound of the St. Andrew’s United Church of Cairo in the heart of Cairo. I am linking here a video produced by the congregational president of St. Andrew’s United Church of Cairo, Iain, of damage inflicted on the St. Andrew’s compound by looters:
The video dramatically shows how close the compound is to Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the political demonstrations and conflicts in Cairo. The video is publicly available and can be used in a variety of ways to illustrate the insecurity faced by all in Egypt. Above all, this video brings to our minds the insecurity of the refugee population served by St. Andrew’s Refugee Services, as the services on which those communities depend have been disrupted by the violence and chaos that has engulfed Egypt for the past week.
We should be specific to note that this video does not in any way depict anti-Christian activity. The compound was not breached because it contains a church or a Christian ministry. The religious symbols of the church were not desecrated in any way.
Thanks, to all of you, for your continued prayers for those in Egypt. ~Megan