Obscure Garbage Collector Dies


Young boys collecting garbage

“Mr. Quidees died this week leaving behind his wife and six grown children.”

If an obituary would have been written for him, the above is probably all that would have been written.

But the welcoming committee in Heaven undoubtedly accommodated him in the VIP Heavenly Village and said “We welcome Quidees, an Egyptian Hero of the Faith, whose faithfulness to His Lord resulted in establishing a ministry which impacted Cairo, Egypt and the World”.

So how did this unknown man have such a great impact for God? What remarkable feats did he achieve to accomplish such great spiritual success?

In the early 70s, Quidees was a young garbage collector who at the crack of dawn each day left the Mokattam Garbage Village (MGV) on his donkey cart to collect garbage from the far away district of Shoubra.  One of the homes from which he collected was that of Farahat, an evangelistically-minded Coptic Orthodox believer.

Farahat began talking to Quidees about God’s love for him and how Jesus had come to earth to save him from sin.  In those days – though all the residents of MGV were nominally Christian – there was no Church at MGV and Quidees could not believe that the Creator of the Universe could care for a poor, illiterate, and despised garbage collector.

Often Farahat would take time to evangelize and then disciple Quidees.  The spiritual change in his life was evident and Quidees was keen for Farahat to come to the MGV to share the gospel with his family.  But Farahat had heard terrible rumours about that dangerous ghetto full of garbage and criminals and he had absolutely no desire to visit it!

But Quidees was persistent, and after two years Farahat finally capitulated to his urging and went to share the Good News of the Gospel with his family.

The response was rapid and remarkable.  The whole extended family was converted and they soon cleared an area from garbage to hold meetings for their neighbours.  Within a short period, many were radically transformed by the love of Christ and they decided to build a church.

Many of you know the rest of the story, as Farahat eventually accepted God’s call to pastor that small church among the most despised and ostracized people in Cairo.

As the people were transformed from the inside and began to feel a sense of worth, they were motivated to improve their lifestyle and transform their village.

This week I met with three, different groups of visitors to Egypt, each with a completely different itinerary.  But they all took it for granted that visiting the MGV now world famous “Cave Churches” was a must.

Never in a million years could Quidees have imagined that his persistence with Farahat (now Father Simon) would have eventually resulted in planting the largest and best known Church in the Middle East and one whose powerful spiritual ministry has been an inspiration to Christians worldwide!

No wonder he got such a great welcome in Heaven!


A bus ticket I have remembered for over 50 years!

Montreal Skyline

I was a lonely 16 year old foreign student in Montreal, Canada when I first attended a youth meeting at Rosemount Bible Church (my grandfather had just died and my grandmother had gone back to her family in Lebanon leaving me all alone in that big city).

Many of the young people welcomed me warmly and went out of their way to be helpful.  Even though I was the first Egyptian any of them had ever met (there were hardly any Egyptians in Montreal in those days), they made me feel very much at home in their youth group.  One of them upon learning that I was trying to teach myself to type told me she’d bring me a book on typing to help me out. After the meeting a young man walked with me to my bus stop and explained to me how if I changed buses on the same trip I should ask for a “transfer” ticket which I could use on the next bus without having to use a new ticket.  That certainly helped me save money as I was using a new ticket on every bus I rode.

This summer Rebecca and I were visiting this church and reminisced with several of those who first welcomed me there about that life-changing summer for me in 1962!  They told me that when they first welcomed me they determined to make me welcome and went out of their way to be helpful.

It was through that church that I first understood the real meaning of the Gospel and decided to commit my life to Christ.  But I what most remember after 50 years is not the teaching I heard but the small acts of kindness which impacted me deeply.

Don’t underestimate the simple cup of water you give in Jesus’ name to seemingly insignificant people.