Posted by: Titus Presler | February 2, 2011

Chandlers write of ministry amid Cairo turmoil

A general circular from Paul-Gordon and Lynne Chandler has just been received from Cairo in which they tell of both harrowing experiences amid the conflict and continuing ministry through the Maadi congregation that they have been leading since 2003:

Dear friends, greetings again from Cairo!

Our internet has just been turned on so we are taking advantage immediately to send out a quick email regarding our situation, not knowing how long the internet will be on.  We see in the inbox that so many of you have written us emails of concern for our safety. Thanks so very much for your prayers.

We are safe as a family, and this is the first day that things feel more normal. It has been a very intense week here due to the anti-current-government protests around Egypt, the dangerous looting that has taken place in the main cities, and the escape of thousands of criminals from notorious prisons throughout the country.   We have had some personally harrowing nights, and it is quite amazing how quickly one gets used hearing automatic gunfire in the streets around your neighborhood and seeing military tanks in the street.  One knows things “are different” when you rejoice to see a tank on your street!

We have had some scary personal experiences, which we will share more about at a later date, and our own family’s distressful experiences were even covered on CNN.  However, we trust that today’s quieter atmosphere, with some businesses opening, and the curfew extended to begin at 5 PM instead of 3 PM, and the lack of gunfire in the street will reflect a return to some normalcy.

We could not be more proud of Egyptians.  Not only have they courageously stood up for their rights, standing together as one, Muslim and Christian, but they have also come together to protect each neighborhood, in one of the most spontaneous and well-organized neighborhood vigilante networks one could imagine.  And consequently, once we got used to the gunfire, we have felt safe under their care, knowing they are protecting us, together with their own families and property. Every street in our neighborhood has make-shift barriers/road blocks, manned by the local “volunteer militia” holding clubs, knives, swords, shotguns or pistols.  But they are there to help and protect us all : )

One thing that will be different, if things continue to calm, is that masses of foreigners here have left the country, deparing from  businesses, embassies, etc.   Again, Egypt has faced a mass exodus, this time not through the Sinai, but through the air!  It will depend on the continuing developments as to when they will return.

A few days ago we made the decision to stay unless, of course, the situation seriously deteriorates and we feel our safely were in question.    We find that we have an important role to serve at this time – helping to encourage those who are still here, and standing as well in solidarity with our Egyptian friends and colleagues, both Christian and Muslim.

It has yet to be determined what will happen in the next few days or weeks. This current calm might be the quiet before a storm, or the peace after the storm.  We think we will have a better sense as to the near future after this coming Friday, when mass demonstrations are expected once again.

As many of you know, we were expecting to begin our interfaith Caravan Festival of the Arts this coming Thursday, Feb. 3 (tomorrow). Obviously that had to be postponed as not only are many are away from Cairo due to the conflict, but we are under a curfew every evening.

We thank you with all our hearts for your prayers, concern, love and interest!   It has been a privilege to be here during this time for many reasons (albeit a “scary privilege”).   If the internet continues to stay on, and if things continue to remain fairly calm, we will write again soon.

Meanwhile, please know we are holding onto your prayers and thank God for each of you.  The Episcopal Church wrote a news items regarding all I have shared above, that you might find of interest. Please see:

Paul-Gordon and Lynne Chandler

PS—As I send this we have just learned of violence taking place on Tahir Square downtown against the peaceful protestors!

My posting yesterday reflected on their faithfulness as exemplary of the important role longterm missionaries continue to fill, both in their places of service and for their sending churches.

Today’s letter from Bishop Mouneer Anis – Bishop of the Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, and President Bishop of the Episcopal/Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East – appears in an ACNS news release.


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