By Katia Salame
CBN.com - Egyptian Christians form only 6-12 percent of the country?s population. And they worship in some unusual surroundings; the most famous of which might be the Cave Church in one of Cairo?s garbage dumps.
Looking at the church located on Egypt's Mucatam hill you might never guess this is the site where thieves and drug addicts once gathered. It was Cairo's biggest waste disposal site and home to garbage collectors and other poor people.
"This place appeared out of the garbage,? according to Father Ebram Fahmy, a monastery priest. ?I think the whole world has its eyes focused on it now.?
No one dared to think any thing good would come from this cave less than a decade ago. Now voices of praise and worship to God fill the air. Five congregations meet in the monastery of Saint Mark, which occupies the cavern discovered in Mukatam hill.
To make the church, half a million tons of rock were taken out of the cavern. Father Fahmy credits divine help for creating the church: "God guided us to open up the back, we found the cavern and we started taking out rocks. We got to the middle of the cavern and we built a round theatre that seated 5000 people".
Another church seats 20.000 people. Figures from the Bible and Scriptures embellish the ceilings and walls. It?s become a place that draws tourists more than any other church in Egypt.
The cave church ministry also puts together projects to help the residents of the impoverished neighborhood to improve their way of life. Father Fahmy says one of the greatest miracles is raising the dead. He credits the church with doing just that every day by bringing new life to those who are dead in sin.
According to Fahmy, "The church is growing by the day for which we rejoice. We see new people in the church every day. In one sermon we had last year,? adds Fahmy, ?470 youth gave their life to the Lord and this is the greatest blessing.?
Clearly, Saint Mark's monastery has risen from being a trash site to a place of service in a community that need it the most
(This story was provided by SAT-7, a satellite TV ministry serving the Christian population of the Middle East for the past five years. Anticipating further growth, the Cyprus-based ministry is currently developing a new TV production center in Egypt.)