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As you probably know, Egypt is full of hidden treasure and archaeologists continue to make new finds. Egypt has also held much treasure for me. What an unexpected discovery! My fellowship with Egyptian Christians has enriched me so much. One of those treasures was particularly well-disguised.
It began with unwelcome news.
I had convened a group of international leaders from Europe, the Middle East and Africa and we had decided to meet in Cairo initially and then make the 90 minute drive to a part of the Western Desert known as Wadi El Natrun. We were being hosted by an Egyptian, who brought me unwelcome news on the first evening in Cairo. Without asking me, he had invited a Coptic Orthodox monk (more accurately, a celibate priest), to deliver us a lecture on The History of Monasticism. We had a full agenda for our few days together and I did not want to lose a couple of hours listening to a boring lecture. But I couldn’t see a way to get out of it.
Later that evening I saw a very slight man in a long black cassock entering the house and our host whispered to me; “That’s the man who will be speaking to us tomorrow. He will need a couple of hours.” My heart sank, even as I managed a weak smile.
The next day we made the drive into the desert and found Dr. Atef, the man in the cassock, waiting for us. The moment he began to speak God spoke to me and said; “This man will be a very important friend to you.” As he spoke to us, it became like “water in a desert land” to my soul and spirit.
In the years that have followed, I have met him in a number of places around the world. A couple of weeks ago I went to Phoenix, Arizona where he has lived for a few years and also where a growing number of people have gathered round him in a new monastic order. I made the trip to Arizona just to spend a couple of hours a day for a few days with Dr. Atef.
As usual, I came away challenged to grow more in Christ and encouraged by God’s love for me. He gave me three primary teachings and the first one accompanies this article. I hope and pray that you will also be challenged and encouraged. Do take the time to dig for the treasure!
Click on the link below to read the Dr. Atef notes Prayer Life.