Today’s guest post comes from Maiden Hanna, a fellow who attended The 21 in July of 2022. We asked Maiden to write about her time in Egypt and share the parts of her experience that stood out the most to her. In today’s post, Maiden shares the most important lesson revealed to her during The 21.
“I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” John 17:4
I read this verse around the same time when I was applying for this trip and it stuck with me. It kept nagging at me and I didn’t know why until months later, long after the trip was over. In this verse Christ was speaking to the Father, but the church fathers interpreted it as a statement that we should try to make to God on judgment day. Now, I’m not sure if I will ever be able to truly say this for my life, but I can for this trip.
If you or someone you know is thinking of going on this trip, let’s set the record straight: this is not a vacation, it’s not a break, or just an experience to be had or a service to participate in. It is an act of love. That is all The 21 trip is; it is giving unconditional love to children who are so unfamiliar with it that they are hesitant to accept it. It is loving their families who do nothing but give and don’t have many chances to receive that love back, especially the mothers. It is loving your partners, even after only knowing them for a little while. It is loving yourself after being tested beyond imagination. It is loving our country, our people, our heritage, and most importantly our faith with so much passion that it feels like you never really loved it before.
If you are worried about going on this trip and think that you won’t be up for it, let me tell you all you have to do is love. If you can do that, then everything else will come naturally.
The one thing that God wants from us, “the work which [He] has given us to do,” is to know Him and make Him known. I was always taught that the way to do this, no matter what mechanism you chose, is to use love. Love for God, love for others, and love for ourselves. I find it very poetic that the namesake for this trip is after the 21 martyrs of Libya who suffered and gave their lives out of their love for Christ because love is exactly how I sum up this trip to people when I’m asked about it.
When you think about it, love is what made this trip possible in the first place. Coptic Orphans wouldn’t be what it is now and wouldn’t have helped so many people if it wasn’t for Mrs. Riad, the associates at Coptic Orphans, and the donors’ love for others. There are people out there who have so much love for our people and faith that they want to share it with complete strangers for nothing in return.
This has been the greatest opportunity to serve and be served in unspeakable ways. When I think back on this trip or talk to people about it, I still can’t believe it actually happened; it feels like it happened in someone else’s life and not my own. If you are blessed with having the opportunity to serve with Coptic Orphans either through The 21 or Serve to Learn, do it. I promise you that you will not regret it. The 21 is life changing, spirit awakening, and soul altering.