Christianity Today Middle East Published Articles

From Garbage to Glory

Cave Church

From my new article for Christianity Today’s Behemoth publication:

The Pyramids of Giza used to be in the middle of the desert. Eventually Cairo’s urban sprawl pushed right up to the Sphinx. The Citadel of Saladin towers over the city. The southern approach requires an overpass straddling the City of the Dead. In Tahrir Square, the Egyptian Museum and its famed mummies were overrun with the bedlam of a revolution.

Tourism has dropped dramatically since then, but intrepid travelers can hardly help notice the encroachment of squalor on the glories of antiquity.

What most miss is the reversal: A glory rising out of the garbage. To create it, 40 years ago one man had to literally trudge through a pigsty. Today it is simpler to reach the massive cave church complex in the Muqattam Mountains on the eastern edge of Cairo. But the journey still requires a pungent assault on the senses.

Women and children pick through 15,000 tons of the city’s collected refuse, sorting out recyclable waste from the biodegradables useful for wandering livestock. Men haul burlap trash bags twice their size into garbage trucks poised to tip from overfill…

The article tells the story of how a Coptic Orthodox priest inhabited this world and gave birth to one of Egypt’s most beautiful sites.

Please click here to read the full article and see the photos at The Behemoth.


Mama Maggie, by Makary and Vaughn: A Review

Mama Maggie

How much good can one person do? Why do anything when the need is so great? One woman’s mission to love the forgotten children of Egypt’s garbage slums offers a glimpse into answers for these questions.

A rich Egyptian girl who grew up in a doctor’s family and continued her affluent lifestyle into her 30s, Maggie Gobran could have easily overlooked the smelly garbage district of Moqattam. After all, thousands of poor people lived here suffering from poverty, illiteracy, abuse, and hopelessness. What could one wealthy Egyptian woman do?

This story paints a picture of Maggie’s life—her background, service, dependence on God, and love for the forgotten children. It describes the beginnings of the garbage cities in and around Cairo, as well as their many inherent and ongoing problems. But it also interweaves the political workings of Egypt and the turmoil of the past few years.

The book was especially interesting for me to read since I live in Egypt and have visited Garbage City. Its short, interesting chapters paint a realistic picture: Piles upon piles of garbage, animals wandering in and out of houses, and the social dynamics of ordinary people maintaining their dignity amid everyday filth.

But it also highlighted a surprising reality: Clean clothes for children, fun summer camps, new kindergartens and schools, and a chance for kids to dream. Throughout all the obstacles, Maggie perseveres through her faith in God and stubbornness to see these children given a fair chance at life.

It is a rewarding look into the life of a woman nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.


For more information about Mama Maggie, please use this link to view it at BookLook: 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”