Caring for Vulnerable Children

A Letter from Noah Park and Esther Shin, serving in Egypt

March 2018

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“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke 18:16

In Cairo, there are children working, selling, and begging in the streets. One day, I encountered two boys who stretched out their hands to me. Looking at their beautiful eyes I felt very sorry since I did not have anything to give. So, I offered to buy them hamburgers at a nearby McDonald’s. With excitement, they called another boy, and we all went to the restaurant.

The three boys were 9, 10, and 12 years old, all from the same family. Someone obviously brought them to a commercial area so that they could earn money. The oldest was selling trinkets, and the younger ones were begging as a pair. Because they weren’t in school, they were not able to read or write Arabic. After lunch, I gave them a big hug saying “Ma Salema, Alla Yssalmkum! — Peace! May God Keep You Safe!” My mind was heavy, especially with the youngest, who could not even finish his Big Mac.

After a few weeks, Esther and I joined Michael’s regular visit to a Christian orphanage. He is a Master of Divinity student who studied law in college, but after eye surgery, shifted his career to serve at the Evangelical (Presbyterian) Orphanage in Helwan, a suburb of Cairo. When the big steel door opened, all the children rushed towards Michael, shouting at and hanging on him. He was so connected with them, even after having left to attend seminary. Soon after, each one of them turned to us, asking “What is your name?” — in English.

Michael said to us, “What is most needed for them is a safe place and unconditional love.” He added, “Without orphanages like this, they would become street children, potentially being exposed to violence, addictions, and criminal activities.”

Egyptian orphanages are different from orphanages in other countries. All the children have at least one parent or relative. Half of them we saw had come from rural villages in Upper Egypt. Their families were too poor to send their children to schools. Michael explained, “There is a difficult legal process to bring children to this place. Once they are here, they are protected and supported through their education. At a Christian orphanage, they are taken care of in Christian ways.”

During our visit, we met another visitor, Hani. We came to know that he grew up in the orphanage until he finished college. Now he lives on his own and often pays a visit there to play soccer with the children. He was wearing a T-shirt with an image of Jesus on the cross with the words, “I am not ashamed.” Hani told us “I am not ashamed of myself. This place taught me what love is and who I am as a Christian.”

It was a relief to know that not all children from poor families end up being street children but have a chance to be raised with a decent education. Yet, Michael explained that many orphanages can’t afford to do this type of care and the number of orphanages is too small to meet the needs of the growing number of street children. With the on-going economic depression, very high divorce rate, and breakdown of families, this issue of street children poses a challenge to the Egyptian churches and a grave concern for Egyptian society.

Michael wants to be a preacher after his graduation from the seminary. Becoming a preacher means that he will minister in places without churches, addressing social issues such as children and elderly people who are neglected. He has a big heart for those people in need. We are sure that he will be good company for children on the streets as he witnesses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are very thankful to be part of his future ministry by sharing our experiences and knowledge.

This summer, we will return to the U.S. for our continuing education and congregational visits. Please feel free to contact us if you want us to come and share our stories with you. Your prayers and financial support for our ministry in Egypt encourage us to concentrate on God’s vision in Egypt and the Middle East. Please continue supporting God’s ministry in Egypt and please pray for our students, the Egyptian church, and those children at orphanages and on the streets.

Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me. Mark 9:37

Peace and Grace in Christ,

Noah Park & Esther Shin


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