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  • Linda Abwa

The Saints Next Door

In April, Paul Elie of the 'New Yorker' magazine, wrote an article about Pope Francis's response to Coronavirus. In it he quotes a beautiful little phrase, coined by the Pope, for how we must live in these times of Corona-challenge. He described the people who are doing their bit to help society function as “the Saints who live next door”.

The Church in Cairo is at the centre of reaching those most vulnerable to the Covid-19 crisis, providing emergency supplies to immigrant families whose incomes are diminished by lockdown. The students of Nuba Mountains Bible Institute (NBIC) - pictured below - were keen to be part of the Church’s response to the pandemic. They became the ‘Saints who live next door’ delivering food packages to families in their communities.

Yet it soon became clear that these Good Samaritan students were also in need of neighbourly assistance of their own. Several students themselves have lost their jobs due to C-19; one is a single mum with five children. Another student had travelled back to Sudan for a family emergency and got stuck there when the borders closed - his wife and children are alone and struggling in Cairo. Two other special cases were considered and rent was required for one student family to remain in their home. Another student, who is the head of a household of ten people with only one person working, described a myriad of needs in his household.

It is the inherent neighbourliness of the Church community which allowed these needs to not only be seen, but to be managed as individual cases. The CMSI C-19 response was able to assist NBIC to provide food packages for some students and other funds for rent and family needs for the special cases.

In an emergency situation, a 'one-size-fits-all' approach is often the most efficient way to reach the huge numbers of people impacted by a crisis: there can be no ‘special cases’. When the Church family is at the centre of emergency efforts however, it is possible to respond as neighbours.

We are thankful for so many generous responses to our C-19 appeal allowing us to be part of the worldwide network of next door saints, which has helped each student in NBIC face their own very specific challenges whilst maintaining their place as next door saints in their own communities.

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