Today’s guest post comes from Harvy Barsoom, a fellow who attended The 21 in July of 2022. We asked Harvy to write about his time in Egypt and share the parts of his experience that stood out the most to him. In today’s post, Harvy shares what he learned about the uniqueness of the Coptic faith during The 21.
Going into The 21 trip, I did not have any expectations of the experience but I just went with the flow. I have always wanted to go to Egypt for a long time and was just excited that I had the opportunity to go and even on top of that, serve in my homeland my brothers and sisters. I was slightly aware of the circumstances that I was going to see but it is completely different than actually experiencing it. After this trip, all I can truly say is, Blessed is Egypt My People.
Egypt has a special place in God’s heart. He came here seeking refuge and has always taken care of her. Even though things seem to be going horrible in Egypt due to the economy, persecution, wars, evil, etc. God’s eyes are always on Egypt and it is truly a miracle that Christianity still exists in Egypt after all it has been through. Persecution against Christians is ongoing and doesn’t end. Even after all the martyrs, and people migrating out of Egypt, and the burning and bombing of the churches, and the murdering of clergy, churches are still being built, and are being filled with congregation, and kids are still being baptized, and are being named after saints, and are chanting the Coptic hymns, and reading the bible. The spirit in the Copts is unmatched. They are used to persecution, and it pushes them to be prouder of their faith and heritage and they will never abandon it regardless of the circumstances.
During one of the classes that we were teaching, the children were talking with us about the problems in Egypt. They talked about how the economy is bad, everything is really expensive, the education system is corrupt, and the fights that happen often. I asked them, “Does this make any of you doubt your faith or question why God is doing this to you?” Their answer shocked me. They simply said, “Of course not! We have faith that God does what’s best and He is always there for us.” This is an answer that comes from true faith. They are taught to be thankful and leave it to God no matter what. These kids already have it hard enough. They are fatherless, mothers barely making ends meet, and some are behind in education. On top of all that, they are persecuted in schools, on the streets, among their friends, in the stores, just for being Christians. And again, despite all that, they have faith in God. That is all they had to say. They never questioned it. This is the faith of the Copts. This is the faith that moves mountains. A faith that never doubts in God’s wisdom because they know that He is their Father. They may have lost their physical father, but they are sure that their true heavenly Father is always taking care of them despite the circumstances.
It is truly a miracle that a child or a mother under all these circumstances still has faith, and still goes to church and takes communion and prays. This faith is truly precious and is one that every Copt around the world hopes they can imitate. It is the faith of the 21 martyrs who did not think twice about leaving their family behind. They know that they are in God’s hands which moves the universe. I am so thankful and so touched by the experience that I gained. It is truly a memorable one that will never be forgotten but will be renewed all the time and the story will be told to all who I meet.