Storm Centres of History: Cairo

BBC Radio Devon – Pause for Thought:  Storm Centres

During the Pause for Thought recently, I’ve been talking about 7 places I have been to:  Storm-centres of history.

Today, we will go to Cairo, Egypt.

Each place I’ve chosen will be a place I have been to, either as a tourist or a missionary.

Each place is self-evidently interesting for the paradigm-shifting upheaval, the change and new course for humanity that they set.

All of them speak about the great themes of our existence:  justice, truth, freedom, good and evil, etc. and the enduring ability of human beings, bearing the image of God, to experience and endure great trials.

I was a missionary living in Cairo between 2005-07.  I learnt a little Arabic, and slowly grew into the strange new world of Egyptian culture.

Four years after my return to the UK, the famous Egyptian Revolution of 2011, part of the wider Arab Spring, exploded onto our TV screens.  Tahrir Square became the symbol for this dynamic event, and remained so for over two weeks.

In the tightly controlled society, led by a self-electing President, Hosni Mubarak, it seemed to me when I lived there that nothing would change.

On the street outside our former flat

The sun beat down relentlessly, day-after-day, and there were certainly no winds of change expected.  It was as it always will be: “Enshah-Allah” (God willing) was the fatalistic mantra of a struggling and beaten down people.

I would, like many others, never have imagined such a Revolution was coming or even possible.  But then, the impossible happened.

Egyptians, especially the young and socially connected, organised themselves, gathered with brave determination and steadfastly refused to take any more from a government that was failing their beloved country.

The Revolution was a reaction to many things, fraud and corruption; police brutality; 31 years of state-of-emergency laws; increasing food prices; low wages; unemployment, etc.

History shows this couldn’t go on.  Egypt is a great country, with the most captivating history.  

It is precisely because human beings are made in the image of God that justice is so integral to our existence.

It is because God is a God of Justice, that in the course of history, evil is named for what it is and condemned. 

The great Catholic journalist, G. K. Chesterton said, “Justice existed when there was no need of judges, and mercy existed before anyone was oppressed.”

This is because we do not live in a random, meaningless universe.

But one made and sustained by a loving God.

When people fight for justice, they act like God.

When they expose corruption and evil, they act like God.

Each protesting Egyptian would say with Hugo Claus:  “I am a person who is unhappy with things as they stand. We cannot accept the world as it is. Each day we should wake up foaming at the mouth because of the injustice of things.”

And in doing so, they acted like God.

The thunderous OT prophet of justice, Amos, once said, “Hate evil, love good, establish justice… Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

In other words – Become more human by acting like God. 


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