Ten Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) missionaries arrived safely in Istanbul, Turkey, Feb. 1, after they left Cairo, Egypt, on a chartered flight provided by the U.S. Department of State. The missionaries were among hundreds of U.S. citizens who were advised by the U.S. government to leave the country amid protests, some of them violent, against the government of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
One of the ELCA missionaries, Pastor Peter Johnson, is the pastor at St. Andrews United Church and director of St. Andrews Refugee Services. His mother, Mary Ann, was visiting Peter, his wife, Michele, and their three children when the protests began.
According to his father, Peter tells the story of being distressed when they dropped Mary Ann (who had to travel separately) off in the hands of the taxi driver who would take her to terminal. The taxi driver, well known to them from life in Cairo said, “Don’t worry, Peter, she is my mother now”, to which Peter responded, “I guess that makes us brothers”.
The ELCA missionaries serve companions and church-related organizations in Cairo, including St. Andrew’s United Church, St. Andrew’s Refugee Ministries and the Evangelical Theological Seminary.
The missionaries are on their way to the US before a careful review of the situation determines what will happen next for them. Mary Ann is reportedly on her way back as well.
Other ELCA missionaries serving in Egypt are Erin Odgers, Lansdale, Pa., a teacher at St. Andrew’s Refugee Ministries; the Rev. Mark and Linda Nygard, Minot, N.D., who both serve at the Evangelical Theological Seminary; and Paul Schick, an intern at St. Andrew’s United Church, and his wife Stephanie. Schick is a student at Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, an ELCA seminary. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) missionary who traveled with them is Denise England.
In thanksgiving for the return of our missionaries, we continue to pray for the people of Egypt, that violence cease and peace and justice will prevail that will bring a better life for all Egyptians.