MY ENCOUNTER

WITH CHRIST

 

 

Author

 

 

Nahed Mahmoud Metwalli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PAGE

SECTION 1

Title Page 1

Table of Contents 2

Introduction 4

Chapter 1 - Author's Statement 5

SECTION 2

Chapter 2 - I Was 8

Chapter 3 - A Visit from a Priest 13

Chapter 4 - A Christian Principal 16

SECTION 3

Chapter 5 - My Encounter with The Lord

of Glory 22

Chapter 6 - A New Secretary 28

Chapter 7 - The Vision 44

SECTION 4

Chapter 8 - The Miraculous Work of God 58

Chapter 9 - Manifestations of God's Love 60

Chapter 10 - Moving out to the Apartment 70

SECTION 5

Chapter 11 - The Baptism 84

SECTION 6

Chapter 12 - My Excursion with the Cross 89

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PAGE

Chapter 13 - Under Surveillance 97

Chapter 14 - The Resignation and

the Chase 102

Chapter 15 - Wanted and Hunted 128

SECTION 7

Chapter 16 - The Exodus from Egypt 145

Chapter 17 - The Departure 157

Chapter 18 - In Praise of God 161

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

The author was born a Moslem. She led a traditional Islamic pattern; a devout commitment to Islam, and a deep seated suspicion of Christianity and Christians whom she perceived as polytheists who believe in three gods: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. When the Lord saw her eager desire to know Him, he revealed himself to her in a vision. The experience led her to believe in Christ and to proclaim him as her savior.

She chronicles the events of her experiences with our Lord Jesus Christ that culminated by her escape from Egypt; the very land that hosted Christ as a child in his escape from the designs of Herod. The details told by the author are real. They are not a figment of imagination or embellishment. We have translated it here in its entirety without omission, addition or editing. The only exceptions are some of the names of individuals whom - out  of  concern for their safety - we either omitted or changed them with the approval of the author.

In publishing these memoirs; it is not our intent to compare one religion with another. Nor do we aim at getting involved in "stupid and futile arguments" that would produce nothing but antagonism and hard feelings. The purpose is to bring to the attention of the readers the true experiences of the author - who was at odds with Christianity - yet she came to adore Christ who miraculously revealed himself to her. All of this occurred without any input from any human being. We leave to the reader the responsibility of making his own judgment or conclusion on the subject.

We ask of the Lord, that these memoirs, may bring blessings to the lives of those who come across it and to fill their lives with thanks and joy. May He lead us all to the truth and to eternal life.

The publisher.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

In the Name of the Father,

The Son

And the Holy Spirit,

One God, amen.

 

Blessed be the Lord our God Who granted her, she who previously persecuted Him, to preach the faith that she was rejecting before.

Glory be to God the Father and to our savior Jesus Christ, he who comforts us in our tribulations. He, who lets his humble servant be a source of comfort to you, not because of my righteousness but by the grace of God bestowed on me for your sake. Glorify the Lord for ever and remember me. Remember his mighty and miraculous work in me, and know that I was not proselytized by man. I received the faith from our Lord Jesus Christ, glory be to him now and for ever, amen.

I write this testimony in the divine presence of God. He knows that I do not lie one single bit. I

present a true testimony about how wonderful was God's work in me.

My tongue was quick and arrogant to insult Your Name; and You tamed it. From now on, I have devoted myself to You; proclaiming You to the World. Let Thy will be done, not mine. My Lord; I am all yours. This is enough for me and I am not asking for more. My beloved Lord; do not permit me to do anything against your will. Let your love that dwells in my soul, guide me.

" I heard about you with my ears. Now I have seen you."

 

The Author

 

Nahed Mahmoud Metwalli

CHAPTER 2

I WAS

I was Nahed Mahmoud Metwalli, the Dean of Students at Helmeyyet el-Zaitoun Girls High School; the largest school of its kind in Cairo, Egypt.

The student body of the school was about 4000 girls. As a result, the school was operated on a two shifts per day basis; a morning shift and an evening shift. As the Dean of Students I was responsible for overseeing both shifts. Despite the fact that I was the most junior of all the deans, and the most recent in graduation, I was promoted to this level for two reasons:

a - God has endowed me with an outstanding strong personality, intelligence, self confidence and the ability to discharge my duties.

b - I was capable of mastering my assignments in a short time without depending on others to teach me. It was enough for me to watch others perform a function to get a grasp on it.

Indeed I was promoted to this position ten (10) years ahead of my seniority status. In addition; I learned the functions of two other Assistant-Principals who were assigned the two most important responsibilities in the school; the secret coding of student names and the preparation and printing of examinations questions. Both functions required total confidentiality in the course of performing them. As it happened; one of them retired at the age of 60 years, and the other sought an assignment in one of the Arab countries.

Subsequently I took over their duties and I became in control of every important administrative function in the school. I began to feel as the crowned queen of the school. I had full authority - and control - over whatever I handled that even the school principal befriended me and would consult with me on every decision she makes. I became very powerful; influential and feared; and viewed everyone else as beneath me.

There was no limit to my ambitions. I asked the administration to add the supervision of the tutorship of the sub-standard students classes to my responsibilities and they did. I thus became responsible for the collection of some twelve to fifteen (12 - 15) thousand pounds in revenues from

these classes every month, for which I received Three Hundred Egyptian Pounds every month in compensation. This in addition to another 300 Egyptian Pounds in compensation for the function of preparing and printing the examinations questionnaires.

There was  another  factor   that   played a role in catapulting me to these positions; the status of the members of my family and the high positions they held in the government ranks. A brother-in-law was the First Deputy and Assistant Secretary for Domestic Rule (Municipal Rule or Local Government –The Department of Interior as it is called in the USA). He was at the same time, the PTA president for the school hence my two nieces attended classes there. My brother was Manager of Job Qualifications (Evaluation and description) for the Central Management and Administration System. Another brother-in- law is high ranking Air Force pilot attached to the Administration of the Presidential Palace. My sister  is the Public Relations Manager for the Heliopolis School District,

and her husband was a high ranking officer in the Central Intelligence Agency of Egypt. Add to this the fact that; I was blessed by a strong personality, a gift of  gab and glibness, articulate and a convincing logic in arguments. Thus I became haughty, conceited and developed an acute case of "vanitosis".

This was the front that faced the people.

Inside, it was a totally different story. There was a sensitive kind person who loved God. Yes Lord, I love You from all my heart and I fear You. Yet, I felt far away from You. I have always searched for God, but there was always that barrier between Him and me. I did not know how to cross the barrier. I prayed a lot and read the Kor'an so often. I loved God so much yet there was something missing. I hated  the Christians for no other reason except that they did not  love  the  God  that I love. They did not worship Him the way I do. They; the Christians; were in my perception astray away from God and that  is  why  I  had  to  hate  them.

Indeed,  I was both innovative and creative in humiliating, hurting and creating problems for them. Not because I was evil, but because they did not love the god whom I love and I worship. Yet there was something that was so puzzling to me. I lacked that internal peace that they had, that I ever yearned for. I am far wealthier than they are, wore expensive designer clothes and lacked nothing of coveted material emoluments. But there was something reassuring inside them. I could spot a Christian from the look in his eyes; that deep confident peaceful look. Why ? I felt that I must provoke them to make them lose that internal peace that alluded me.

CHAPTER 3

A VISIT FROM A PRIEST

As it happened, one day a priest came to my office. When he appeared at my door in his black garb I felt a powerful shiver sweep across me. I maintained my composure and reminisced; he - the priest - has fallen in my hands. I totally ignored him. He walked in until he reached my desk and stood there looking at me. I pretended to be absorbed by some important papers in front of me. A while later, he addressed me in a peaceful way; Are you Ms Nahed Metwalli ? I raised my head and looked squarely at him. When our eyes met, I felt insecure. He was calm composed and collected. I replied him scornfully; Yes ? He handed me a request to transfer his daughter from her school in Upper Egypt to   the Girls High School of Helmeyyet el-Zaitoun reasserting   his request verbally in a quiet voice. I raised my voice interrupting him; From Upper Egypt to Helmeyyet el-Zaitoun in one fell swoop ? Why ? He replied courteously; For reasons out of my control. He then quickly added; Here is a proof of residence in the School District Area, and here are the transfer

approvals for her sisters for the Public School and Junior High in the district.

I examined the papers trying to find any error that would  justify  a  refusal of his request. There was none. I looked at him and there he was standing looking at me in a mysterious way. It was peaceful, quiet, confident, kind and courteous. I tried to provoke him saying; We want a donation for the school. He said; Fine with me. I retorted; We want furniture valued at 100 pounds. He said

willingly; Agreed. Then he added peacefully; But please approve the transfer right now because I will be sending it  to the School District in Upper Egypt with a   friend  who  will   be   leaving shortly to-day. I will go right away and buy what you want.Despite the fact that his daughter was entitled to the transfer, an d the fact that I was trying to irritate him, anticipating  that he would reject my demand, he was fairly agreeable. I retorted in an acrid manner; " I want you to fulfill my demand first." He answered peacefully; " Trust me and believe me." I could not resist his look and signed my approval on the transfer papers. I invited him to sit, took the papers to stamp them with the official seal; something I never did before. I felt moved by him and a mysterious feeling gripped  me. I admired  him and wanted to apologize to him. I wanted to tell him; We do not need a donation, forgive me for the way I treated you. But, I could not utter one word. The impact of his demeanor was  so  pronounced when he came back in less than an hour, with a receipt of payment for 120 Egyptian pounds, cheerfully informing me, that I can send anyone anytime, to bring the desk in. And, for  the  first  time in my life, I felt a sense of guilt sweeping over me.

He thanked me, we shook hands and he went on his way. He had no idea, what turmoil was going inside me. I felt so bad. One question kept hounding me; " What is it within this man ? How can he carry himself in this kind and tactful manner ?" He has what I lacked and was searching for Peace. I tried to forget this incident, but from time to time I would remember his look at me. His deep eyes filled with peace. However, I tried to put the whole episode behind me. I went back to my previous attitudes, more adamant than before.

 

 

CHAPTER 4

A CHRISTIAN PRINCIPAL

APPOINTED TO HEAD OUR SCHOOL

During the scholastic year 1986-1987 a Ministerial Order appointed a Christian principal to be the head of our school. It was a shock to me. How can I accept a Christian boss ? How ? I can not stand that.

I started planning to force her out of the school. I have to intensify my efforts against her to force her to bail out of the school. I ignored her as if she was not there. I wanted to make her feel helpless towards me. She was not well versed in the by-laws governing the operations of the institution, while I already know them by heart. So, every time she proposes something I belittle (ridicule) it. I looked for any mistake she may commit and exploited every opportunity to  make her aware of my disrespect for her.

Finally, I had my golden opportunity. The majority of the students in grade 10, in the Science department were Christians. As a project,

They edited a wall magazine in which they quoted some verses from the Bible. A Moslem teacher told me about it. I promptly went to the class and tore the magazine off the wall.

This was the opportunity I was waiting for. I wrote a top secret letter to the Superintendent General of the School District of East Cairo. accusing the Principal of encouraging the students to commit such a heinous act, and implied that the Principal  was

aiming   at stirring sectarian strife in the school. I asked for immediate investigation and action. I could not wait till the morrow to send the letter in the mail. So, I sent it by messenger for hand delivery.

The next day I went to the school very early to see the results of my action first hand. The General Superintendent sent a veiled woman (hard-line Moslem who wears a veil in her daily activities, and, who would have no tolerance to Christianity and Christians) to conduct the investigation. The investigator started with the four students responsible for the magazine; each one of them in a separate session. All four emerged from the investigator's room intimidated, demoralized  and   weeping. Each

student underwent an investigative session for a full hour. Then came the turn of the teacher of Catechism. Her investigative session lasted a lot longer than  the  students. When she emerged from the room she was red eyed from crying. As for the class counselor, quite a decent and courteous person, who was also a Christian - and a mathematics teacher - she looked at me with tears in her eyes, almost pleading with me, she said; " Did you really think that I am out of my mind to incite the students to do that ? " I  could  not answer her. Then came the turn of the school Principal. I heard her shouting; "No. No. This is impossible. I reject this accusation. I decline to answer the allegation or respond to   the interrogation. I will not acknowledge such an investigation. I am going to see the Secretary (of Education). She then left the school in a huff.

I can not describe the state of panic and fear that swept the Christians in the school. I was very proud of   myself. I went after everyone, and nothing can stand in   my  way. I issued orders

prohibiting the wearing of Crosses by the Christian students. I became so hostile towards Christians that I would not grant any of them, any request, even if  it was a legitimate right. Every one began to fear me more and more, even to the extent of avoiding me.

This was not enough for me. I decided to deal the Principal a fatal blow. I waited for the opportunity to come by. I wanted to be alone with her. I monitored her for some time; when she comes to school ? And, when she leaves ? She was an early bird. I had my plans based on these facts. I wanted to be alone with her as soon as she comes to school before anyone else is in. Next morning, I went to school very early. A few minutes   later  she  came and went straight to her office which happened to be beside mine. I went  in her office with malice all over my face. When she looked at me, it was obvious that she became concerned and alarmed. I became encouraged more   by that  and said to her in a sharp manner; " What are you doing here ? I can not stand being with you in this school. I do not want you to stay here. Get out of here." She could not believe herself. Nor could she believe her ears. She looked at me stunned and said; " What are you saying ! Are you out of your mind ? " I retorted; " I am crazy ? You are crazy." We will never be together in one place. Get out of here."

I noticed that she was trying to get away from me. I raised my hand as if I were going to hit her and said; " If you stay here, I am going to kill you." Suddenly she ran away crying, calling for help. I rushed to my office and sat quietly there as if nothing had happened. I heard her scream, saying; " Help. Nahed wants to beat me and to kill me." Some teachers clustered around. They found me in my office cool and smiling. I then looked at her in sympathy and

said; " What are you talking about ? No one is going to believe you. Why do you accuse me of this stupidity ? " She left the school in a

huff straight to the Assistant-Secretary of Education's office. The Assistant Secretary sent an investigator to see me the same day.

The investigator was a Moslem, and when I denied what she said about me, he believed me right away, especially that, there was a large contingent of volunteers who testified that they were with me in the office at that particular time. Moreover, they testified as well that she hates me, and, that she contrived this story to get rid of me and to replace me with   a Christian teacher. The subject immediately became a matter of sectarian strife and that was in my favor.

The principal  could not stay in the school after that any longer. She requested a transfer and she was granted her request. She left the school to no return.

After this victory, I became even more arrogant and more cruel towards the Christians in the school. Their fear of me stroke at their hearts and I became the de facto crowned queen of the school. I controlled everything. No one could refuse me a request. Nothing happens in the school unless I approve it even if it was not within my domain of authority. No one could stand in my way or even argue with me. And, if it happened that I saw a student wearing a Cross, I had no compunctions about taking it off of her neck and throwing it to the ground.

This was Nahed Mahmoud Metwalli. So she was.

 

 

HAPTER 5

MY ENCOUNTER WITH THE LORD OF GLORY

It never occurred to me before, that God has permitted me to reach these record heights of haughtiness and arrogance, because he had other plans for me. He was going to ask me to drop all this. It never occurred to me that he endowed me with all these skills, intelligence and power because he was preparing me for another task. And, I never thought that he has given me a strong personality, eloquence and convincing logic because he had in mind another purpose for these talents. I used to walk around the school with an air of challenge, as if I am challenging everyone. No one could stand in my way. The school is my domain. I was the indisputable crowned queen of the school.

Yet; despite all this, I was sad. There was that feeling of emptiness inside me. I loved God with all my heart but I was far away from Him. There was that barrier between me and God. Could it be my sins ? I asked myself this question one day; " If I died today, what do I show God for my life ? Some

sins ! " No. I have to do something about eternity. I am wealthy. I should go to Saudi Arabia and fulfill the duty of pilgrimage "Al-Amrah". Preparations for the trip went surprisingly smooth. I prepared my-self for the ritual with the prescribed clothing. I reached Jeddah by airplane an hour after Midnight. From there I took a car to Mecca. Yet; despite the hardships of travel, I could not wait till the morning to start the rituals. I went straight to the Kaa-bah all enthused about being close to God; to cross that barrier between me and Him. I stood there in prayer telling God how much I loved Him. Yet I was so far removed from Him. " Bring me closer to you. Let

me feel you. Touch me. May be Satan is trying to numb my feelings towards You." I kept circumambulating the Kaa-bah, hoping that something may move me. But, in vain.

I went back to my country Egypt after ten days, distraught more than before. I recognized that there has to be something wrong. May be it was me. I should not let-up in my search. I should aim to please God first of all, to search for him and the way that leads me to him.

I always asked myself; " Is it conceivable that

God created us to be his slaves, then tries us in this horrible (cruel) way ? " Is it rational that God is that cruel ? " No. This is unreasonable. No. There must be something wrong with this premises.

I must know him one day. God created this world for us to enjoy. He gave us dominion over everything in it. This means that he loves us. I remained confounded; searching for the truth but to no avail.

The emptiness   inside me tormented me. My distance from God tormented me more. I tried to forget everything, to go on with my life and enjoy it with all what God has given me. However, despite the fact, that I had everything going for me, I was still unhappy.

I graduated from The University (probably of the University of Cairo) in 1963, had an enviable position, a solid reputation (prestige) at the Department of Education, a high income (grade 1 in the cadre), at   the top of the scale in the government

cadre, long established tenured seniority, extra income from peripheral activities, and three excellent A-students for my son and daughters who

also were successful in their lives. In addition, I had my own apartment even though I never used it since I rented it, and my own car. And, I was divorced in 1983.

(The translator: in Egypt it is quite a feat to have an apartment. It is not uncommon to see betrothed couples wait for four or five years before they can marry because of housing shortage. Owning a car is also considered a status symbol and a luxury.)

One day, my daughter asked me a question saying; "Mother, can I marry a Christian ? " I blew up in her, and screamed in her face; " No. Of course not. This is impossible. If you even entertain this thought again, I will kill you myself." She added; he is an engineer, from a prominent family, and his whole family is going to the USA. I will travel with him. We will marry there and no one in Egypt will know about it but you." I screamed again; " Are you crazy ? How can you be a Moslem and marry a Christian ? This is a sin." I asked her to promise me not to do anything (about the marriage) without my knowledge.

The good Lord has blessed my daughter and

myself with a great gift; anytime I find myself confronted with a difficult situation, I ask guidance of God and he responds to us in a vision. I asked my daughter to ask God to tell her whether it is possible to marry this young man, and to tell me truthfully what was God's guidance to her. The next morning my daughter told me her vision. She said; " I saw myself walk along a boulevard, along a

body of water. When I reached the end of the road, there was a cross-road. I did not know which way to go. I found three veiled girls who said to me come with us. But, I did not feel comfortable to go with them. Then I saw a beautiful young girl, in a green dress that was dotted with many white Crosses. She held my hand and I was happy walking with her."

When she finished her story, I was not able to understand what was meant by this vision. I told her in no uncertain terms; " You are just hallucinating because you are infatuated with this young man and you want to marry him. I am not going to condone this marriage, and do not you force me to resort to other means with you." I ordered her not to see him again, or even entertain the idea of marrying him. She promised me not to, and the matter was closed.

 

CHAPTER 7

A NEW SECRETARY

A friction occurred between the school secretary - who was a Moslem - and myself. I requested her transfer and asked that she may be replaced by another secretary who is honest. The Director of Administration and Finance visited me and promised me to transfer the secretary and to replace her with one who is honest, hardworking, active and easy going. But, there was a hitch; she is a Christian. I voiced my objection to having a Christian secretary for the school because I will have to deal with her on a daily basis. Then, I relented after he convinced   me that honesty is the most important character in a secretary and that this requirement would be fulfilled in her, adding that he trusts her more than he trusts himself.

The new secretary - Samiah - came to report to the Principal. I was sitting there in the Principal's office to get a firsthand look at her. I was taken by the way she looked at me - of all the people present - and she greeted me courteously. Yet I found myself returning her greeting with a disapproving

smile. She was not fazed. I noticed  that she wore a large leather Cross, and   I   reflected  on the matter; " Oh ! She is new in the school and she has no idea who I am and what I want. Someone is bound to tell her (that I do not allow wearing of Crosses in the School); I cogitated. She will undoubtedly give in to my orders."

The next day I asked her to see me in my office. She did. I nodded to her to sit. She sat. I kept gazing at her astounded. She is completely different than what I am accustomed to. She is strong and

courageous yet very pleasant, confident, self assured undisturbed with my stares. She had what I miss and what I am looking for. For the first time in my life I felt diminished. Yes, I felt as if I am her junior even though she was thirty years of age and I was forty-five. I started to go over the format of our working relation. To my surprise, she wanted to make my job a lot easier and she was willing to shoulder most of the work load. She let me feel that she likes me. But, why would she endear me ? I was positive that all the Christians in the school must have already warned her about what she should expect from me. I admired her, and, I started to like her. She has a different style of speech; a soft voice,

tactful and courteous. She is totally different (from me). She has  that deep steady look in her eyes, calm and peaceful. I noticed that she still wore that large leather Cross. I did not dare comment on it with one word. She is superior to me though I am the queen, but she still was higher than me.

As things turned out, I liked Samiah and an amicable relation developed between us. I wanted to probe her to glean what goes on behind that facade. So, I began to feign reasons to call her to my office. It was a day in October 1987, when we chatted together for hours without feeling bored. Then one day I asked her; "Do you believe in God Samiah ? " She replied assertively; " There is no God but God." I did not believe my ears. I was stunned and shocked. I asked her surprised ; " Christianity confesses to one God ? " She   replied confidently; " Yes. One God amen." I said to her; " My understanding is that you believe that God is Christ who is the Virgin Mary." She replied assertively; "This would be polytheism. We are not polytheists. We believe in one god." Then she added calmly; "The Virgin Mary is the mother of Christ and she is not a god."

I felt as if a great pyramid has suddenly collapsed (over my head). Christianity confesses to one god ! This is not what I perceived about Christianity. In my ignorance I was being unfair to them (Christians). I was eager to hear more from her though I felt devastated  and ashamed. I remembered all that I did with Christians. What heinous crimes I committed. I wanted to know more. I said to her; " Talk to me about Christianity." When she started to talk (about Christianity) there was an aroma of burnt incense. Amazing. I have never before smelled a scent like that. I felt as if I was comatose, was not sure whether this was a dream or a reality. I  tried to appear collected and listened to her attentively as she said; " The virgin Mary grew up an orphan and was raised in a strict religious environment in the Temple until she reached the age of 12 years. She was then betrothed to an older man who - according to the traditions - was to take care of her. Before they were married she bore Jesus Christ."

I interrupted her then saying; " Yes. This is true. It is also mentioned in the Kor'an." I could not continue the discussion. I felt tired, weak and drained. I closed the subject at that point. She left me

and went out of the office not knowing what goes on inside me. She have ignited a fire inside me that I could not smother.

I started to ask myself; " Who is Christ ? " The mere mention of his name evokes in me wonderful emotions that I never experienced before. There is comfort in his name. I love him but I do not know enough about him. I must know him well. Very well. I have a burning desire to attain this goal.

 

I began to be so attached to Samiah that I waited for the morning to go to school to visit with her. From the first time we met, she made me feel that she likes me. This was obvious from the way she treated me despite all warnings she received from the

school's Christians (about what she should expect from me). She was vigorously impelled to sponsor me.

Yet from time to time I had evil thoughts. Subsequently, I used to test her sincerity (integrity). For example I would hand her 1000 (one thousand) pounds from fees collected by the school for posting, while intentionally adding ten (10) more pounds. I would assure her that I have counted the money very

carefully and that there should be no mistake in the counting. Few minutes later, she would be back with ten (10) pounds in her hand and would tell me; " I found these ten pounds extra." I checked her integrity on several occasions, and every time she reaffirmed her sincerity and her integrity (by her honesty). I then, resorted to another technique; to irritate her by the manner I talk to her or by belittling what she says. She always came on strong; never lost her calm, never lost her peace and was always smiling. As if she knew, what I planned (had in mind).

Days passed by. I was unable to shake this subject (the subject of Christ) off my head, or even to stop thinking about it. From time to time I would ask Samiah to talk to me about Christ and his teachings. Every time she spoke about the subject there was that aroma of burnt incense. The association between the aroma and the subject aroused my suspicion. Could it be that Samiah is hiding something in her pocket and releasing it in conjunction with the subject as a supporting ploy to manipulate my convictions ?

So I began to watch her as she spoke. Then suspecting an association between the location and

the aroma I began to change the meeting place to other spots in the school. Sometimes it was the school balcony and some times it was in the school garden. To my surprise the aroma was always there. It was simply God's way to endorse her assertions about the subject.

I became very confused. And, I felt lost. Where is the truth ? I love God from all my heart and by all my existence yet I feel very much that I am far away from him. And, knowing how distant I am from him, pains me. This emptiness inside me hounds me. There was a barrier between God and me. All I want is to cross this barrier and be near to him. I love him but I also fear him. I know very well that the day will come when I will have   to stand in front of him in judgment. But, I saw nothing in my life but sins. No; I must know the truth no matter what.

On November 25, 1987 Samiah was late coming to my office. I sent someone to ask her to come and see me. A  few   minutes later she showed up happy and cheerful. I mused; " What makes you so happy ? " " Today is the first day of Advent; the fasting that precedes Christmas "; she

replied. I retorted sardonically; " Does Christianity acknowledge fasting as an oblation to be observed ? Do you really fast  or do you just eat and drink and call it fasting ? " She asserted confidently; " Yes we fast. A real fasting. We may abstain from eating and drinking for long stretches of time, but it is up to every one to match his fasting to his own endurance. We also abstain

from enjoying other things (pleasures) so that we may live a holy life during the holy fasting."

There was nothing to mock at, after I heard what she said. I kept gazing at her silently. I noticed the glitter of something that she wore behind the leather cross. I asked; " What is this ? " " This is an icon of the Virgin Mary." She replied. I reflected on the matter in a sort of loud thinking; " Was there photographers or painters at the time who portrayed her image for the record ? How  can they be sure if the   portrait (the image of the Virgin Mary) is true or not ? Oh; how gullible these Christians are ? I could swear the picture is but the product of the imagination of some artist who painted it and promoted it as the portrait of the Virgin Mary. And as it happened, all the Christians believed him.

I was hardly finished with my thoughts when the glitter disappeared and I saw in front of me a bright light, I sensed the aroma of the burnt incense so strong as if it was a column of smoke. Through it I saw a beautiful lady; fair, very fair in complexion with her kind features standing in front of me dressed in a heavenly garb and her hands were stretched downwards towards me . She was looking at me. I could not help but murmur; " The Virgin Mary " as if I was in a trance. I could not believe what I saw. But I have seen her and she immediately disappeared. When I regained my composure, there was Samiah in front of me in tears and so was I. I discovered that, I was the gullible and that she (Samiah) had the Truth. And, for the first time in my life I felt devastated. I felt as if I were nothing but a straw bounced around. What should I do ? O God help me.

I went back home after school (was over). I looked at my

three kids and reflected; what would be their stance if they knew hat I became a Christian ! What would be their father's position who happens to be a General Manager at the Ministry (Department in the USA) of Al-Az-har (the world famous Islamic University) ! It is true that we have been divorced

since 1983. But, in order to preserve the family's interests and image, we have agreed to share the same residence with the rest of the family (children) as if  we are still married, though we were de facto in total separation. Visions of my family and the prominent positions they hold reeled in front of my eyes. I will bring shame on all of them. And what about me and the position I reached after all the struggle I went through ? Do I destroy all this ? I was perplexed. Would they (the family) leave me alone ? No. Chances are, if they felt sorry for me, they would confine me in a mental asylum. It is also quite possible,  one of them may get hot (zealous) and kill me. The law will not punish him because he will be (in fact) enforcing the law of Riddah (the Apostasy Law).

(The translator: the Apostasy Law exhorts all and any believer to slay an individual who abandons Islam and converts to another religion. Those who fulfill the duty are promised paradise in return. Those who ignore the duty are considered apostates themselves and become themselves subject to the same law; that is to say their blood becomes free for any and all paradise seekers).

I found a solution. God has created me a Moslem born to a Moslem family. This is not my mistake. I shall not think about this matter any more. And, I will not destroy in the process all that I attained (over the years) by my own efforts. All I have to do - and I must - stop Samiah from coming to my office or discussing anything

with her other than official business. I   succumbed  to what I am andwho I am and decided to pray more so that God may lead me (to His Truth). Also, I should increase my recitations  of  the  Kor'an and  do  not leave to myself any spare time to think about these matters any more.

On the next day, I picked the Mos-haf (the Koran in print), and started turning the pages. As it happened, God led me to the chapter on Mary (Surat Mar-yam or the Tractate of Mary) and it read;

" And mention in The Book Maryam, who secluded herself from her people in an eastern place. She had a barrier between her and them. We sent to her Our Spirit which incarnated in the form of a human being. She said (to him); I ask for God's protection from you, if you are pious. He said; I am but a messenger from your God to grant you a wonderful

boy. She said; how can I have a child when I was never touched by a man and I am not a whore. he said to her; so says the Lord, it is simple for me (to do it). He will be a miracle for the people, a mercy from us, and so it was. She carried him and went to a distant place. She had her labor under the stem (Trunk) of a date palm and she wished that she died before that and was totally forgotten (from people's memory). He called her under the date-palm tree and said; do not be sad. There is a source (spring) under you. And shake the palm tree it will drop on you, ripe dates. So eat and drink and be merry, and if someone talks to you say, I vowed a fast for the Lord, I will not speak to anyone. She went to her people carrying him. They said; "Maryam you have committed an abhorrence (abomination). O sister of Aaron; your father was not an evil man nor was you mother a

harlot. She (Maryam) hinted at him; they said; how can we communicate with a child (who is just born). He said; I am the servant of God; He gave me the Book and made me a prophet. He endowed me with blessings wherever I went , and He commanded me with prayers and alms as long as I live. And to honor my mother, and He did not will me to be ruthless merciless. Peace be upon me, the day I was born, the day I die and the day I am resurrected.

(Surat Maryam verses 16-33)

I lost all bearings and felt lost. Where is the truth ?

I became more unsettled, and even more determined to seek the truth. The turmoil that raged inside me was now beyond silencing (suppression) or ignoring. I began to question myself; why is all this exaltation of Mar-yam (Mary) in the Koran if this woman was the mother of an average human being ? Why was Christ born in this miraculous way which defies nature if he was just a human being or a prophet ? Why did God single him out and bestow on him his own powers; raising the dead, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, purifying (cleansing) the leper ?

Again, Sahih al-Bu-khari mentions about him (Christ) that "The hour will not come until Christ Eissa (Jesus) the son of Mary descends among you ruling you with fairness and justice." And, where is he now ? Alive in heaven for 2000 years and until the hour comes ? No. He is different from humans. He is far greater than them. But, who is he ?

(The Translator: A Hadith is a dictum by

Mohammad, believed - by Moslems - to be the last prophet to be

sent by God to the World. The Hadith(s) are viewed by Moslems as equally important as the Koran and are believed to be the words of God spoken through the mouth of Mohammad. Sahih Al-Bu-khari, as well as Sahih Moslem are considered to be the most authoritative, authentic and researched references on the Hadith. They are second only to the Koran in reverence by Moslems.)

It became clear to me that I can not suppress my feelings. There is a tempestuous turmoil within me, between my strong and frustrating feelings that there is a barrier between me and God that forces me in the wrong path, and, between my incredible persistence (tenacity) to know the truth. Long, heavy days passed by until the  year 1987 ended and the year 1988 began. The Copts in Egypt began their celebrations of the birth of Christ. I went back to asking myself; Birth celebrations ? Whose birth feast is that ? The birth of Christ ? Who is Christ ?

The Seventh (7th) of January is an observed holiday for all the Christians in the school. I returned home from the school saddened and apprehensive. It was very cold. I shared a bedroom with my two daughters. All were asleep except me. I was anxious (unsettled). (Within me there was an internal debate.) No. I must be truthful with myself.

Why am I so afraid ? Shouldn't I fear God more than I fear anyone else ? How can I assert (claim) that I love God more than myself when I do not want to know the truth ? Isn't God capable of protecting me and defending me ?

I turned to God in all sincerity and cried to him as if he was facing me saying; " O Lord, you know how much I love you and how

I do fear (revere) you. All I want is to meet you without sins. Please God show me the truth. How can I get to you ? "

Then I would go back and say; " What have I done wrong ? I was born in a Moslem family. Are you going to hold me accountable for that ? I am very afraid. No; please God I beseech you, you have blessed me since my childhood with a great blessing; every time I asked you about a concern you gave me the answer in a vision. Do not deny me this great gift. Please God, if Christianity is the way to you, show me a Cross. If Islam is the way to you give me a sign. I will do as you tell me. You are the only important one to me. I will fear no one. Let them do what they want to do with me. The important thing at the end is you. I do not care for my (temporal) position; I only care for my position with you. My kids are not as important. You are first. You take care of them. If they kill me, they will shorten my way to you.

I have never been as truthful (sincere) as I was that night. And, I have never felt so close to God as I felt that night. It seemed to me as if I was sitting in front of Him talking to him. At times I cry, at times I supplicate, at time I chide (reproach) Him. I stayed awake in this condition until it was three o'clock in the morning. I felt tired and exhausted. My head was spinning. I placed the alarm clock beside me to make sure that it will awaken me up at six o'clock in the morning. I stretched on my bed, closed my eyes, was feeling dizzy but did not fall asleep.

CHAPTER 7

THE VISION

Suddenly, I saw my self dressed in a long gown that stretched to the ground. It was gray in color, covered with silver and had long sleeves. A wide belt was around my waist of the same color like the dress. My head was covered with a scarf of the same color like the dress. I was very pleased with the dress and kept asking myself; when did I get this beautiful dress ? I have never seen it before and I have never seen anything like it in all my life. What a wonder ! I looked down and I noticed that I am bare-footed, but I did not care. I said to myself; the dress is long, it reaches the ground, and, my feet are covered anyway.

When my eyes fell to the ground, what a surprise I saw ! And, what a beautiful color ! It was true green. I have never seen such a beautiful color before, nor have I experienced such a soft texture. I kept feeling it with my feet to get a feel of what it may be; soft lawn ! Carpet ! No; it is silk. I lifted my head to see a marvel, the tongue can never describe.

It is like these castles we envision in our imagination. No, it is more marvelous than that. It is something that no imagination can imagine. A very big place, that has high columns, so high the eyes can not see their capitals, lined with lustrous silk reflecting beautiful lights. The place was filled with incense. I know this scent; it is similar to that I associated with Samiah but a lot sweeter. Then I felt as if a breeze, of refreshing cool air, swept me and I felt a wonderful comfort. And, as if there were birds flapping their wings above my head. I do not see them but I can feel them. I felt that I was swept

with peace, happiness and comfort.

I strolled in the place looking around. Then I found myself in front of a high and huge throne. No one was sitting on it. Behind it there was a dome that looked like a church dome. I kept strolling around enjoying the place until I saw some older people standing in a row in the shape of a bow (a quarter of a circle), as if they were standing in honor for a reception. They wore white clothes; very white. Their heads were covered with white covers that had something glittering in it. Their beards were long and white and they stood there whispering together as if they were discussing some matter. I went close-by to them trying to understand what they were saying but I did not (understand what they were saying). I left them and went around enjoying the scenery. My eyes could not encompass the palace or even see its limits.

Suddenly a person appeared. I do not know how he came, or where he came from. I saw the old men kneel to him and he walked towards the great throne. He did not walk on the ground in steps. He walked as if he was carried on a cloud or as a shadow until he reached the throne and sat on it. What a wonder ! I saw myself following him without thinking and without intention. I followed him and knelt at his feet. A mysterious feeling swept me; a mixture of joy, fear, happiness and peace, and I felt a strong tremble cross my body as if it was an electric jolt. I could not control my body; it quivered out of control. I asked myself; what is this mysterious feeling ? And who is he I am kneeling to with all these men ? I must raise my head and look at him to know who he is. I summoned my strength and looked at him. O Lord ! What am I seeing ! I can not describe it. I can not find the appropriate words to describe him. What is this shining face and what is this crystal complexion !

What is this beauty ! He looked tired, exhausted and

saddened. He wore a light colored (pastel) garb, had a crimson shawl on his left shoulder, and his golden hair cascaded on his shoulders like velvet.

What is all this sadness ! His eyes are closed, his hands on his knees, his head bent down, yet one would not like to stop looking at him. He seemed as if he is looking for something and was not too happy (content). On the contrary he was saddened. I asked myself once again; who is this great man ? Is he a king ? I have never seen a king so beautiful. Who can upset this great man ? I kept staring at his lighting (shining) face and at his neck. It looked like a pillar of pure crystal. I looked again at his shining face and at his very fair complexion. The more I looked at him, the more I got attached to him, and the more and more I wanted to know about him, and who is he.

Suddenly, he opened his eyes and looked at me. I could not take the look in his eyes and fell on my face. Oh my God, what do I see ! And what are these eyes ! I felt as if I am going to die or faint of what I saw. His eyes were big, emitting powerful rays as if it were the rays of the sun. The iris of his eyes were so big that they could contain the wholeGlobe of Earth. Their color is clear blue like the clear skies or the pure water with a tinge of green. And. What are these rays that fell on me and swept my body like electricity. I could not look at him for a moment. I want to know him. I love him I wanted to look at him. I gathered my strength; I must look at him one more time. Yes, I raised my head and looked at him. Oh ! What a wonder ! He is looking at me. His face is coming closer to me. And, what a look on his face; loving, kind and gentle.

 

He asked me in a peaceful voice as if he is pleading with me; " Is it over Nahed ? " I fell on my face. I could not handle all this love, this kindness and this gentleness. I will never find the suitable words to describe what I have seen. But who am I, that this great man, pleads with me in this manner ? He is kinder than a loving mother on her cruel son. And, this great man knows my name and calls me by my name. He knows me very well; but what does he means by his question " Is it over ? " I do not grasp what he means. Should I ask him ? No. You do not ask this man. He is to be obeyed only. As this chain of   thoughts raced in my mind, I had to answer him right away. I

replied trying to compose myself; " Yes it is over, it is over."

I am eager to know him. I gathered my strength again to take another look at him and indeed I managed to lift my head up to look at him. Here he was coming closer to me and with the same love, kindness and gentleness he pleaded with me a second time saying; " Are you sure Nahed ? " The rays of his eyes penetrated me as if he sees what I hide in the depths of my (soul). And, for the second time, I fell between his feet. I have never seen in my life such love, gentleness or kindness. And, all this for me ! Who am I that he gives me all this (attention). Then, I found myself thinking again; sure of what ? I do not get what he means, but I have to obey him. I do not dare ask him (what he means). I answered without raising my head; " Yes, I am sure. Sure."

I love him because I feel his incomparable love. And for the third time I gathered my strength and lifted my head up to look at him despite the fear that gripped me, and despite the fact that my body was shaking so hard, beyond control. But, I was awash in comfort, peace and happiness. I looked at him and what a wonder.

He was getting closer and closer to me. With the same look and the same calm voice he said to me again; " I do not have to worry about this matter any more ? " And in the same previous manner I replied; " Yes. Do not worry about it. Do not worry about it."

Then, he added; " Look at me." I said to him; " I can not." He said reassuring; " Do not be afraid. Look at me." When I heard the words " Do not be afraid ", my fear vanished right away. I lifted my head and looked at his beautiful face. No words can describe his beauty. I noticed that the rays emanating from his eyes became tolerable, his eyes were lighting. My lord what is all this ! Love, gentleness, softness, kindness, purity, innocence. It is impossible for me to describe what I saw.

A few moments went by. I kept looking at him. The more I looked at him, the more I liked him. Then he asked me softly; " What do you see ? " I felt that he is testing me. I kept silent for a while thinking, then I said; " I see a child." His sadness disappeared but he did not smile. Then I saw his eyes welling with tears, and the tears running on his face as if it was a river pouring on his clothes. I wept a lot with him. My body was shaking vigorously - although I felt happy inside - that I gave the right answer and that he was content with me. A few more moments passed and I felt my body hit the bed and I

woke up.

When I opened my eyes, I was at a loss; where am I ! Where is he ? Where are the clothes I wore ? Some time lapsed and I felt as if I lost my memory. I wanted to go back. Help me Lord endure my alienation in this world far away from you. I love you with every bit of my existence. I love you from the depths of my heart. You

have made me feel that you love me a love I have never experienced, the like of it before, in all my life. The rays of his eyes have molten me into a new alloy. I can still remember his pleading with me, his lighting eyes drawing circles of light as he moved his head. His quiet kind voice still rings in my ears. This is overwhelming. He is above any comprehension or imagination. He is a wonderful combination. And, despite his gentleness, kindness and love, he is so powerful. It is amazing; I can not even start to describe him.

After I calmed down , I woke up my daughter. The impact of the vision was so pronounced that I thought she saw it with me. I asked her eagerly; " Have you seen who was talking to me ? " With an air of befuddlement she said softly; " Calm down mother. Who was talking to you ? " I described to her what I saw. She said; "This is an angel. It has to be an angel." I was not satisfied with her answer. No; I know him very well. I know who he is and I know what he meant with his words. I then went to my son's room and reiterated to him what I have just told his sister; asked him the same question. He appeared equally confounded. He never saw me in this way before, yet he added; "Calm down mother. He must be an angel. This is the description of an angel." But no. I know who he is yet I could not believe myself. After a while my husband woke up on the sound of my voice. I asked him too. He said; " It could possibly be Joseph the Zaddik, he has the same description." No. He was not Joseph. I do know who he is, but the impact of the surprise was so pronounced that I was seeking reassurance (confirmation).

I went to school rushing my way, felt like flying as if I am in another world. What I have seen and heard would be overwhelming to any one. I went to Samiah and asked her in earnest; " Who would

have these descriptions ?" As I started to tell her all that I have seen, I lost control on myself and cried. I was shaking so much as I was reiterating the vision to her and it was like reliving it again. I see him again. I hear his kind and gentle voice in my ears again. When I finished with my story, Samiah appeared puzzled and astonished. She opened her bag and showed me some pictures. I picked the picture of the beloved Christ from among them and told her; " This is his picture but he looks far more glorious." I did not wait for Samiah's reply. From the look on her face, I knew it was him. She said; "I will ask father (the priest) about this and then I will tell you what he says."

On my way to my office another Christian teacher; Moufeed, came to my mind. He is a Science teacher in the school who has for the last two years been a good companion to me. Very loyal and faithful. He was always good to me despite all what I manifested against the Christians in the school. He has been so tolerant with me despite my verbal abuse and assaults on him, my misbehavior and my rudeness towards the Christians as a whole. On the contrary, he always responded to my acts with goodwill and good deeds. I was never able to violate his peace and calmness. When I entered my office he was sitting there perusing the daily newspaper. When he saw me he queried me; " What is the matter ? " I felt as if I am falling on my seat. I told him about the vision that I saw. He asked me to recall in detail everything that I saw. I was still in a state of emotion, unable to control myself and was weeping. He looked stunned. After I finished telling him what I have seen, he said to me ; " Forgive me. But can you repeat to me what you have just told me again ? " I went over the vision again. Still he asked me to repeat it again. When I finished repeating it again, he lifted his head up and said; " Thank you lord." Then turning to me he said; " Do you

really want to know who he is ? " I said; " Of course. Certainly." He said very calmly; " He was Jesus." Despite the fact that I knew it, and was certain of it, I was grabbed by surprise when he said it.

I broke down totally, starting crying and shaking. Moufeed tried to help me get composed. When he failed, he left me alone in the room and shut the door behind him. However, he kept checking on me from time to time until I calmed down, he came in and sat beside me. I looked at him (reflecting on the happenings) and said; " Who am I to see Christ ? And who am I that Christ speaks to her in this way ? He was pleading with me in a soft quiet and calm way." What does he mean by saying;"Is it over, Nahed ? " I feel as if I am losing my mind. All this love and all this kindness for me ! I do not think (believe) I was in my room on my bed. I was somewhere else in a place I can not even start to describe. There are no appropriate words to describe what I saw. Moufeed replied me saying; " It is true that we are undeserving (God's gifts to us), but he does not give us according to our deeds. He gives us from the wealth (abundance) of His Glory." I responded saying; " I am very ashamed of my sins. It is like a mountain on my shoulders. Yet despite all this he rewards me with all this love ? " Moufeed responded in a peaceful tranquil voice; " He loves the sinners. And when they repent, he says to them; I will forget all your sins and I will not remember it again. This is our kind Lord Jesus Christ." I asked Moufeed; " What do I have to do now ? " Moufeed stopped me saying; " Nothing. Just be patient. He will finish his work with you and he will guide you. Keep your cool and try to be normal." Then he left me and went.

Days passed by, and all I can see is his two lighting eyes, all I hear is his kind voice. O (Lord) how great is your love to us sinners

? One day I was conversing with God saying; " Beloved Lord, I

am ashamed of myself. Why (do you shower me with) all these blessings and all this grace. I can not raise my head of the weight of my sins. Guide me my Lord in my contrition and eagerness to know you. Shore up my weakness and help me." Yet, who am I to deserve to see you and to be near you ! The answer was; " You have a message." Wonderful. I did not believe what I heard, but the reply came again; "You have a message." I exclaimed; " Me my lord ! " And, for the third time I heard; " You have a message. Quiet down and be confident. Do not rush and do not upset every thing."

I was filled with peace and tranquillity. I said; "God, I am all yours. Let it be your will not mine. Apply me in any way you want. I want nothing but to be near you. From the first moment I perceived how much you love me. I wish I can love you as much as you love me. What an honor, privilege and cherish is it to serve the lord. Help me Lord and strengthen me to conform to your will. Reign on my heart, I will remain yours till the end. Please keep me faithful to you till the last breath.

So became Nahed after her encounter with the Lord of Glory. The whole world is nothing. Nothing on earth is worth one tear of his eyes. With him I need nothing. In him there is love, peace and security. There is fullness. Yes; all the fullness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 8

THE MIRACULOUS WORK OF  GOD

Several days went by; tense and heavy. Every day I grew more eager to know more about God, to know him well and to learn what Christianity is all about. I wanted to read the Bible, go to Church to attend Mass, and meet with a priest. But how ? There is no doubt in my mind that - given my old fame - that all the priests will avoid meeting with me. I was the source of agony, for all the Christians who came in contact with me (in the course of the day to day business) in the school; whether students or teachers. Yet today I am a Christian.

I went back to Samiah and told her that I would like to meet with the priest, and to get a Bible to read. Samiah said that she filled the priest on the matter and that he would be glad to meet with me, but that he wanted sometime to prepare for the meeting. About the Bible, Samiah reflected; where would you be able to read it ? At the school where your office is always busy, or, at home with your kids and husband are around ? I remembered my apartment that I had, and said to

her; " In my apartment." Now I understand why I leased this apartment (though I never had a need - or even an anticipated need - for it at the time I leased it.)

The happenings of the past reeled in front of my eyes replaying the succession of events that led me to lease this apartment. My dad - who had the rank of a "General" in the Police hierarchy - owned a large apartment in the Officers Complex in

Abbasey-yah (a quarter in the outskirts of Cairo). When he died we decided to sell it. My share of the estate amounted to 7000 Egyptian pounds, which I used to lease this apartment; over the objections of my kids. I prevailed at the end and it was kept empty though I was furnishing it with necessities from time to time (as the situation permitted).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 9

MANIFESTATIONS OF GOD'S LOVE FOR ME

One day, while crossing the street on my way to school, I was so absorbed with my thoughts that (I was not paying attention to the traffic and) I almost got run over by a car. I was mesmerized with the two lighted eyes, the calm and peaceful voice (in which Christ was talking to me in the vision that I saw). And above all, the message that I have to carry in my life. I felt someone telling me to say; " In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit ". It seemed to me, it was so loud that I looked around to see if everyone else around me did hear it, but there was nothing that indicated that to me. I reached the school shaking. I reiterated what happened to Samiah and crossed myself in the manner that Christians generally do. Samiah asked me; " Who taught you that ? " Some one taught me that just after the car was about to run me over. Samiah said; " Then let us complete it; one God, amen." Then she went on to explain to me the meaning of the sign of the Cross; " God came down from Heaven to Earth in the image of his only begotten son who transferred us from the darkness to the light." After a bit of silence she

added; " Whenever you are unsettled or afraid, and everyday when you wake up in the morning or before you go to bed by night repeat what God has taught you today. He is giving you according the eagerness of your heart. But, be careful not to let anyone sees you doing that."

How happy am I; and how wonderful are the great works of the Lord. I am privileged with your love. You teach me yourself.

Thank you Lord. If I spent the rest of my life kneeling at your feet, I would not be  able to pay you back even a trifle. You give in abundance. Moufeed was sitting there in my office reading the newspaper as usual . I greeted him saying; " In the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit " crossing myself with the sign of the Cross as the Lord taught me. Moufeed smiled saying; " Didn't I tell you the Lord will guide you and teach you ? Thank you Lord. Thank the Lord always. I now feel confident about you. You are in good hands; the hands of our beloved God."

I sat down and started to light a cigarette. I used to chain smoke. But, before I lighted the cigarette Moufeed said to me tactfully; " There is no need for this now." I threw the whole pack of

cigarettes in the waste basket and vowed not to smoke again. The Lord helped me and I never smoke once after that.

Many days passed by; I was filled with happiness. The Lord surrounded me with love, blessings and guidance which was beyond my comprehension or imagination.

My God, I loved you but I was far from you.

I did not know the way,

And there was this barrier between me and you.

Now that I found you,

And now, that I know you,

Dwell in my heart for ever.

Make me a part of you.

I used to fear you, and the day I meet you on.

Today, I love you and I am eager to be with you.

When my days in this world come to an end.

The true joy is to be with you.

I used to have high blood pressure, 200/110. One night I was laying there in bed conversing with God. I asked him to heal me. I felt as if someone

touched my face. When I put the light on there was no one. I fell deep asleep that night like I never slept before. Praise be to God who filled my life with peace and tranquillity.

One night, I saw myself standing in a carpeted room. There was a big and deep basin full of water. Surprisingly, I had only my house robe and was bare-footed. I felt that I must be in a church, but how can I be in a church dressed like that. I have never seen a basin like this before. Someone opened the door of the room and I was too embarrassed to look at him. I gathered my robe around me and looked to the floor. He stood facing me and anointed my body (with oil). I stood there in silence and did not object. He then went out of the room and I followed him. There were 10-12 priests in their black habit, some of them holding lighted candles and were chanting in marvelous intonations which I was not able to understand. I walked forward and they followed me as if in a procession, through a long passage. At the end of the passage we went up two steps and walked around something that looked like a trapeze (table) covered with a beautiful white cover. We then retraced our way back until I walked out of the church. When I woke up I reminisced on the events

that I saw and did not know what to make of it. It was the first time I get into a church dressed only like that. What is the meaning of all these marks. The marks felt oily. I rushed to school to ask Samiah to

interpret it for me. She looked elated and asked me in jubilation; "Did you go inside the basin ? " I said; " No. Why ? " She said; " This is the baptismal basin. You only have to go there to complete your baptism." She then began to explain to me the baptismal sacrament; its importance and that it is a sacramental rite that every Christian must receive through the Sacrament of Baptism.

How privileged I am with your love o Lord.

You have shown me the way.

You sheltered me.

You led me with your guidance,

As if I were the only thing you care for.

You surrounded me with your love,

As if I were the only object of your love.

You shepherd me as if I were the only sheep out there.

I thank you, O compassionate God.

Samiah promised me to discuss the matter with the priest and to get me an appointment with

him. I went to my office to find Moufeed waiting there for me. He took one look at me, smiled and said in his tranquil voice; " Tell me quickly; why are you so happy ? " I sat next to him and told him the whole story. He sat there beside me praising the Lord and giving thanks to him. When I had finished with my account, he lifted his face, looked at me and said; " Thank you Lord. I know, You are You; Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, for ever and ever, and to the ages of ages. Eternal glory be to You. The Lord have selected you to be a witness to His Name. I have faith in our Omnipotent God that he will save you and protect you and that he will fulfill his work in you. Thank him for ever and glorify him."

On a follow-up visit to my attending physician, he checked with me if I had any pain or headache, and whether I stayed in bed as he instructed me. My answer was; No. He mused; "Do you want to die ? " I said; " No. However, why don't we go ahead with the check- up? " He found no evidence of the high blood pressure. His immediate reaction was that his instrument may be defective. He brought  in a second one but the results were the same. He gazed at me and had nothing to say. Yes, God the omnipotent, had

healed me with his blessed touch. I need nothing more.

A few days went by. I felt very happy, wallowing in the providence of the Savior. What a rewarding companionship. Notwithstanding; I was still yearning to know more about Jesus Christ and about the Bible. Samiah came to see me one day and told me that the priest is ready to see me. I exclaimed; " Would that be in the church ? " She said; " No. It will be in our home. My father (dad) is ill and the priest will be visiting us to pray for him. You will be visiting with us and meet him at the same time." I asked when will this be. She said; "Tomorrow, on Sunday, after mass." I was elated.

Tomorrow I will meet Abouna (Father, Padre). Sure, I met several Abounas before, but tomorrow's visit is totally different. By the grace of God, I am a new person. I went to bed early that evening. I saw that night someone inviting me to visit a monastery, in the midst of the desert. There was nothing but sand all around it. The monastery had a huge gate, with three domes atop the gate. The center dome was larger than the two side ones and had a Cross on its apex. When we approached the gate, a

man in black garb opened the door. The man's head was covered with a cover adorned with several small Crosses. Past the gate there was a long narrow road lined with trees. At the end of the road there was a new church and an old one behind it. We entered the old church. There were laid the bodies of saints who looked as if they were asleep. When I woke up in the morning, I was in a jovial mood. I surmised that Father must know the monastery, and that by describing it to him he would be convinced of my sincerity, and, would feel at ease with me.

I went with Samiah, a bit early, before Father's visit was due and we waited for him to come. After the initial greetings, I kissed his hand, sat facing him, and recapitulated to him all the visions that I have seen. I became quite emotional as I recounted to him my encounter with Christ; his speech, his love his kindness and his gentleness. I felt as if I was reliving the vision. I also filled him on all the vision that I have seen after that. Father listened attentively. When I finished describing the monastery that I have seen in the vision, he commented saying; " This description conforms to that of the monastery of Ba-ra-mos (Baramos). I do invite you to visit it. Would you like to join me

for a visit there ? " I said eagerly; " Of course. Yes I would like to go (there for a visit)." Father said; " I will be going there next Tuesday morning and will be coming back next Thursday evening. We will be leaving at 5:00 A.M.. Let us all meet in front of my home." I remembered my apartment which was only five minutes walk from his place, on the same street. I grasped then why I had that insistence to have a separate apartment for myself and in this area. It was a guidance from God.

 

Father started to explain to me the mystery of the Divine Incarnation and the reasons why it had to be. I said to him; " You do not have to go through this explanation. I have witnessed every thing with my own eyes. I have seen the man and the God in him. I have seen what the tongue cannot describe. Oh, if all could know what love does he has for us ! I wish that I could find the words that convey what I have seen.

The visit with Father lasted for five hours; from 2:00 P.M. In the afternoon to 7:00 P.M. In the evening. Time went by fast. We were all happy with the presence of the beloved Lord among us and we parted on the hope of meeting again Tuesday morning at 5: A.M. On my way home I kept pondering the question; How am I going to stay away for three days. What do I say if any of my children asked me; Where are you going Mom ? It became obvious to me that it is time to move to my private apartment on Monday so that on the morrow I would be ready for the trip to the monastery with Father. But, how am I going to level with my children ? It is only a few days when one of them will be taking his final exams before graduation from the Faculty of Engineering (at the University of Ein Shams). I have accommodated him through all the scholastic year; never denied him a request. I was in a state of internal turmoil. Would I tolerate separation from my children ? My son is now 23; he is my first born. My elder daughter is 22 and the younger one is 20. This is the first time I would live apart from them. Despite the fact that, their father and I were divorced in 1982, we lived in the same residence for the kids' sake. I could not leave their company at the time; will I be able to do it now ? Would they let me go in peace ? O Lord help me. I will discuss the matter with them today and move (to my apartment) to morrow.

 

CHAPTER 10

MOVING OUT TO THE APPARTMENT

I took the opportunity of being with them together while their Dad was watching the television and told them in a calm way; " By the way, I am moving to my apartment tomorrow." I waited for their reaction, but it was a surprise. They all remained silent. None of them uttered a word and they kept peering at me. I added quickly; I do not think that I was (in any way) inconsiderate towards you. Then, I retired to my room and started packing my belongings without giving them the chance to discuss the  matter so that I do not weaken, give in to their arguments and back down. I felt happy and grateful to God. In the morning I went early to the school. At the days end I asked two of the school labor to bring a small truck to move me and they did.

Amazing. I felt so happy and relieved, like a bride going to her wedding home (bridal suite). Yes I am a bride. I will be home alone with my beloved God. His love is beyond any love and any emotion. They all - at home - went along with the decision. I

know it was your work. And, despite the fact the apartment was a small one it felt as big as a palace.

My tongue can not describe my yearning to you (Lord). When we know how much you loved us, we love you because you loved us first. I need nothing more than you. My heart is all yours. I praise you, I glorify you and I give thanks to you because you brought me to know you and to love you.

 

I spent the night cleaning the apartment, arranging the furniture in it. At dawn, I rushed to my appointment and found Father (Abouna) waiting for me. We took off to the Cairo/Alexandria Desert Route. At the monastery I recognized the scenery I saw in the vision. Everything was exactly the same; the iron gate, the long path lined with the trees along its sides, the new church and the old church. There, in the old church, we attended Mass. It was the first mass I have ever attended. I did not understand much but I had a feel of what the words meant. I wished I knew what was being said and what it meant. A monk gave me a book to follow the prayers in. It was the "Et-Xologion", (the book which contains the texts of Saint Basil's Mass and Saint Gregory's Mass as well as the canticles and hymns that are a part of both). I should get myself a copy. I felt grateful to the Lord who knows my needs and gives me without me asking.

During the Mass I smelled the odor of blood. It filled the place. I covered my nose and looked around to find out where it was coming from. Father noticed my reaction and asked me; " What is the matter ? " I told him that I sense a strong smell of blood, and that I do not know where it is coming from. Father smiled and told me that after the Mass he will explain every thing to me. At the end of the Mass I saw everyone goes to the priest and was given something in his mouth, except me. I asked father; " What is going on there. I do not understand. I want to receive what they are receiving, just like them. " Father said; " I will explain everything to you. We celebrate in the Mass, the commemoration of death and the resurrection of Christ. The Bread (Courban; the sacrifice) is the Body of Christ, and the Grape Juice (Wine) and the Water are His Blood. God loves you very much that he is utilizing your senses to acquaint you with these facts." I replied saying; " I believe that

these are his precious Body and Blood. I smelled the odor of the blood. Thank you God. Now I want to have communion in them." Father said; " No. You must be baptized first." I asked; " What prevents me from being baptized now ? " He said; " It is not that simple. You have to give it some thought." (Well, I guess) I have to be patient. Father gave me a Bible and an Agpiah (Missal, a prayer book containing the text of the prayer for the seven times or hours of prayer in addition to those sections of the monks prayers.) and taught me how to pray. I bought a tape and a book of the Mass to memorize and understand every word in the mass by heart.

I returned home (from the trip). (I felt content that) the barrier between me and the Church (Christianity) has crumbled. At the same time it was the end of the classes (the scholastic year). What an opportunity. Now, I will be able to go to church everyday, pray and read the New Testament first as Father advised me. The style in which the Evangiles (The Gospels; The Good News) are written, is simple, sequential and uncomplicated. It captures the heart right away. I never tired of reading it. I knew the importance of the Sacrament of Baptism. All partake in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ after Mass except me. I must get baptized. O help me Lord.

I visited with my children regularly and asked

my son about his exams and brought up the subject of the incomplete subject from the year before. My son gave me the impression that he is uneasy about his performance in the exams. It was a shock to me. A sense of guilt and remorse gripped me. I felt that I should have waited until my son had finished with his exams (before moving out of the family quarters). I went to Father and told him about what happened. He tried to soothe me and invited me to visit the monastery a second time with his daughter and a friend of

hers. I accepted (his invitation) and agreed on a day and a time (to meet). Father suggested that we pray the prayer of the dusk in a cavern that Abba Kyrillus (St.Cyril) used as his cell. We went along with him. It was a very small cavern. I went inside (to pray) while the monk waited outside. I prayed to God in tears that he might help my son (with his exams). Every time I looked at the eyes of Abba Kyrillus (in an icon of his portrait) I thought I saw them moving. I surmised that it was the effect of the tears in my eyes.

The sun was in our back and the day was bright. Suddenly I felt that someone is standing behind us. He wrapped his arms around the three of us (the daughter of the priest, her friend and myself)

and blocked the rays of the sun. I could feel his penetrating look piercing me. I whispered to Father's daughter and suggested that we go. As we left the cave, I looked around but I did not see anyone. Amazing. I knew it must have been Pope Kyrillus (Cyril) who was present with us. He is a great saint. I also learned that God uses him to perform many miracles. But, I was filled with fear and asked Father that we go back home; and we left the monastery the next morning. I went back to my apartment, still absorbed by the thought that (the spirit of) Pope Kyrillus contained me in his arms. What a power. I still feel it up till now. I kept thinking about the whole matter until I fell asleep. Then I saw myself in my office (in the school). My son - who looked like a young lad - came in, his face lighted up, he ran towards me and said; " Mama, I have been baptized." I asked him with tears of joy in my eyes; " How ? This is incredible ! " He repeated himself to me saying; " This is the blessings of your prayers." I cried in tears and he kept repeating himself to me. Then I woke up in tears as if what I saw was true. I was skeptic and attributed the whole matter to the after-effects of the day before and tried to brush the whole thing off.

I began to urge Father to baptize me. Every time, Father's reply was; Be patient. Father then suggested to me to visit the monastery of St. Catherine in Sinai. I agreed and went there in the company of a wonderful pious woman who knew Christ. I spent a good time visiting the monastery, the mountain of Moses. I saw the bush (where the angel of God appeared to Moses there as a flame of fire). We sat there on the rocks, reflecting on the work of God. The question of baptism was persisting on my mind and who would officiate that for me. I was absorbed in my thoughts when I heard my companion shriek; " Abouna Boutros (Father Peter)." I queried her; who is Abouna Boutros ? A tour (chartered) bus came to a stop. One of the Fathers stepped down from the bus. My companion rushed towards him greeting him. I followed her and greeted him as well. They I asked her; who he is. She replied me chastizingly; " You do not know him. Everyone knows him." Later she filled me on him and on the graces the Lord has bestowed on him. She told me that he holds group meetings every Saturday. We planned to attend his meetings together. It was God's providence that this particular person happens to live in my neighborhood close to my home. Thanks be to our kind Lord.

When we returned home from the St. Catherine excursion, I was filled with hope that I will be baptized and that I will be eligible to receive Communion; in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. I decide to find out where Abouna stands on this point; is he going to baptize me or not ? I went to see him about that. While marching down the street, I reminisced over the question of my faith. I was asking God; " If I die now would He be accepting me as a Christian ? " God you know my eagerness to be baptized but I can not do anything about it. Lord, I know the importance of the Baptismal Sacrament and you know that I seek it with all my efforts. Please help me achieve this request.

As I walked by, I was taken by surprise by an old lady who was leaning on a cane in one hand and was carrying a bag of tomatoes by the other hand. The tomatoes attracted my attention by their large size and red color. The lady stopped me and asked; " Is the church (Mass) over ? " I replied her saying; Church ! What church ! She said; " The church of the Virgin Mary." I said; " I do not know." She asked; " Have not you been there ? " I said; "No. How can you tell if I was in the church ? " She said; " Are not you a Christian ? " I answered; " And what about this cover on my head." (the cover is basically the head gear that Moslem women are expected to wear). She asserted confidently; " Still you are a Christian. " I started to doubt that someone planted her to pump me out to find out if I became a Christian or not. I asked her; " Who told you that I am a Christian ? " She pointed to heaven (sky) and said; " He." Then she added; " I am also a Christian like you." She pointed to her right wrist and turned it up and there was a big blue cross drawn (tattooed) on her hand.

I felt comfort and peace and knew who sent her to comfort me. Thank you Lord. When I started walking again, she wept in tears. I asked her the reason she weeps. She said; " Times are harsh and life is difficult, and peoples hearts became very cruel. "I handed her some small change. But, after I took two steps on my way, I chastised myself for being such a miser with the woman who brought me good harbingers. So, I took out a large sum of money (to give to her). When I turned back, she was not there. I rushed after her, looking for her but there was no trace of her. I knew then that you (God) sent her to comfort me. My king and my Lord; You answer me promptly.

 

O how great is your love.

I wish that all should know,

How great is your love to us.

Because, if they knew,

There would not be,

One sad person,

On the face of the earth.

I continued on my way to Abouna's house. I became more determined that I should be baptized and become a real Christian. I sat in front of Father and asked him; "Are you going to baptize me or not ? " He replied; " Do not ask me about this matter again. It will be a year before we can do that." Can  Father guarantee my life for another year ? Or even an hour ? No. I have to find another way (to fulfill this sacrament).

I went to visit my friend as we agreed to attend Father Peter's meeting. We went there early and sat in the third row from the front. The subject of the homily was "Repentance and the Return to God." It was a wonderful homily. His words were penetrating and conscience provoking. I decided to be a regular attendee. After the meeting we met with Father and my friend told him that I am from the other manger (herd). He was very happy to see me and I will never forget, neither the look in his eyes, nor the smile on his face, as he gazed at me. In one of his meetings, I met one of my colleagues in the school and found her talking to Father's secretary. The surprise was that Father's secretary was a student in our school for the last five years. I was so nasty to her at one time, just because she was a Christian. To bump in to me a the church was her biggest surprise. She never imagined that she can see me in the church. But, this was the will of the Omnipotent. She gave us an appointment

with Father; next Wednesday after Mass.

Wednesday came and we went to the parsonage, where Father had his office on the second floor. My friend led the way and I followed. Here I found myself in front of a room that had a plaque denoting that it was the Baptismal Sanctuary. I stood there asking God; When will I enter this room. The door was opened and there came two adults carrying a female child who had just been baptized. I looked inside the room and what a surprise; it looked exactly like the room I saw in my vision. I felt comfort and peace and knew (in my heart) that this is the room that I will be baptized in. Thanks be to You Lord; You always comfort me. I rushed behind my friend to Father's office. I reiterated to him the vision that I had seen, while he listened very carefully. He welcomed me and gave me another appointment to see him by the end of June 1988.

I met with Father Peter on several occasions and found in him what I was missing; concern, compassion and paternal kindness combined with a strong and decisive personality. I felt that I was a child in his presence and that was what I wanted.

Summer vacations came to an end. Teachers were flocking back to prepare for the new scholastic year. O Lord help me to go about my work as usual; but how ? I have totally changed. Where is my loud voice ? It used to reverberate in the Administration Building; either laughing or in a dispute with others. I used to smoke like crazy. I am ashamed of my previous image; heavy make-up, flagrant perfumes and lavish clothing. Today, it does not make a difference to me (having it or not). A matter of fact (today) I favor the modest and the simple. I am not what I used to be any more. Everyone (around me) noticed that, and were wondering; whatever

happened (to her !) I love every one, serve them all without discrimination. I feel like hugging everyone who bears your name. My heart has been lightened with Your love. I must ask forgiveness from all those whom I had offended in the past. Lord help me; You have taken over every bit of me. I want to resign my job. I will never be the same (as I was) again. I am totally yours. All the Christians of the school are aware of the change. They saw me in the church. Indeed it was a surprise (for all of them) but what is impossible for man is possible for You Lord.

One day my son came to see me in my office, his face was all lighted up from elation. (When he saw me) he rushed towards me screaming; " Mother, I made it. I passed the examinations and got my baccalaureate." I could not believe my ears and my eyes welled with tears of happiness. Yet I could not help but ask; " But how ? You were uncomfortable about your performance in one of the subjects." He kissed my hand and said; " These are the blessings of your prayers." I recalled the vision when I saw the happy face. I thank You Lord, O lover of mankind.

Days went by. I attended Father Peter's meetings regularly, as well as the daily Mass. I felt that I am growing (in the faith) fast and that I became

more eager to be baptized. Every time I met Abouna (Father) I reiterated to him my plea; " I want to get baptized." And, on Wednesday November 23, 1988, I had an appointment with Abouna, and I also had a pleasant surprise. He asked me in a calm voice; "Are you ready for the baptism ? " I replied earnestly; " Of course." He said smilingly; " Next Wednesday, November 30, (1988), I will baptize you during the service of the mass." He then

got a piece of paper from his desk and wrote on it; " You will face war from Satan. To strengthen your resistance, keep reading the Bible and praying regularly." I took the paper and sped on my way while he was telling me; " Do not tell anyone else about it except your colleague. She will be your " Ishbine " (God Mother.)

I persevered on praying regularly and so often to the Omnipotent; " My beloved Lord, please do not let the Enemy of Grace (a reference to Satan) hamper or prevent my baptism. Please grant me this request even if it was my last request. It will be ample (for me). I will die with you in the Baptism and I will live (rise) with you in the Baptism. I promise to be yours all my life with every bit of my existence. I promise to dedicate my soul to you. I will always be by you, with you and for you."

 

 

CHAPTER 11

THE BAPTISM

The days went slow until the dawn of November 30, 1988. I left home at 6:00 o'clock in the morning almost flying. Few minutes later I was at the church and so was my Ishbine (God Mother). What a great and beautiful sunny morning. This is my real birthday. We went upstairs to Father Peter's office waiting for his arrival. Everything around me looked happy as if it was about to chat. We heard the footsteps of Father Peter coming up the stairs, and indeed it was him. A few moments later Father came in, his face was all lighted up. I will never forget his face. He greeted us, shook hands with us. His look at me was full of love, kindness and happiness.

Then we went to the Baptismal Chamber, and all three of us looked to the West and renounced Satan. Then we turned to the East and I declared my belief in my Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. Father then went outside while I wore the Baptismal Habit (chemise) and went into the Baptismal Basin. It was a wonderful feeling when the water touched my body. It was something different. I never felt like this before. I wish I could describe it. It was as if an electric current went through my body and I felt peace I have never felt before except when I was at the feet of our beloved God. It was exactly as if I were at his feet. I wished I could stay like that for a long time. Father came in and asked me if I have a preference for a given name. I said; " No. You pick a name for me." He said; " God picks a name for you. Then he added, what do you think of the name Phoebe ? " I said; " Phoebe ! Approved." He put his hand on my head and said; " I baptize you Phoebe In the Name of The Father "

and pressed on my head and I went under the water. I opened my eyes; it was like being in a big lighted crystal ball and heard some beautiful audible voices. It was a beautiful scenery. I wished I could stay longer (under the water). I came up, took a deep breath and Father pressed on my head again while saying; " And the Son ". I went back under the water; same view same voices. I tried to stay longer, then I came up. Wanting to stay longer this time, I took a deeper breath and Father pressed on my head again saying; " And the Holy Spirit." I tried to fill my eyes with the sight and the voices until I could not stay any longer. I rose up and Father said to me : " Ask of the Lord to bestow on you the gift of the Holy Spirit." I stood in the baptismal basin praying; " O beloved kind and gentle God, grant me your Holy Spirit as you graced your pure (holy) disciples and revered apostles. Grace me with your peace as you granted it to them." I felt the touch of the lord. " Lord, I offer you myself. Everything that I own is yours. I promise to dedicate myself to you. Here I give you my life and my days (on earth). What use are they to me if I am not yours ? "

Father then anointed my face and my palms with the " Myron oil " (the sacramental oil used in anointing the baptized. In the Orthodox Church it is prepared through a special prayer where a new batch of the oil is prepared after being mixed with a previous batch of the oil that traces its origins to the oils used for the embalming of Christ after his crucifixion). Then he went out while I dressed. It was an overwhelming feeling. Yes my Lord, now I fathom and understand, first hand what baptism is all about. It is a mystery that defies description. Who am I now ? A totally different person who died with you, resurrected with you, by you and for you. A year has passed by since I believed in you, but today is a totally different day. And now, after I read through the Holy Bible

repeatedly, every word has a new depth now.

To day I live your eternal words;

I touch them and I feel them.

Yesterday, I understood them.

How magnificent are you o Lord !

If all would just know this fact !

" Taste and see how good God is."

I felt the voice of the beloved Lord telling me; " Now you can speak up." What a permission. I feel that I have broken the shackles (that tied me). I do not care even if they kill me. I will be with you, and with you I want nothing else. I will speak and speak, and I will not cease to speak, everywhere, all the time and at every opportunity (about you).

I came out of the Baptismal Room; the room where I was really born again and went into the church to partake in the Communion. What a beautiful day. I have always yearned for this moment. I felt as a bride on her wedding day, in a large procession. I could not see any one but I could hear their foot steps and their merry chanting, my feet went off the ground, I was walking on air, I was flying. I stood in front of Father to receive the Communion. It was a beautiful dream, now it is a reality. I received the Sacrament of Communion.

What a marvel; it felt as if it was a piece of meat in my mouth. What do I do ! I must swallow it and so it was. Then I received the Honored Blood.

What mouth deserves this privilege; That you be in us.

You give according to,

The abundance of your glory.

My lord dwell in me,

That you may dissipate my darkness,

With your wonderful light.

Shore-up my weakness O Lord,

And forgive my sins.

Keep me in your faith until the last breath.

I thank you, he who changed my stone heart,

Into another one where you dwell.

This is the mysterious work of the lord.

His promises are true,

To those who love him,

With all their hearts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 12

MY EXCURSION WITH THE CROSS

How beautiful was life with God and how wonderful it is to be with him. Many days went by. I found shepherd-ship and love from Father Peter. I went regularly to church and had Communion every day. My work began to feel like a heavy load and I started to feel the strain of keeping appearances that I kept before. But how ? How can I hide what I have inside. ? Everyone started asking me; What is the matter ? You have changed ! True, how can I hide that you live inside me with your wonderful light ! You have changed me. My looks have changed. My voice has changed and even my complexion has changed. My mind and my heart are yours. Help me God maintain my composure until the end of the scholastic year.

The year 1988 - the year of my new birth - ended. The new year 1989 came in. I celebrated the new year in the church. And, on a Christmas day - the 7th of January 1989 - I was standing there in your presence praising and glorifying you in the church. It was about a year since I saw you in that first vision. I miss that vision and wish that I enjoy another one. I closed my eyes saying " Lord have mercy " to see you in front of me nailed to a Cross, a crown of thorns pierces your front, blood is dripping covering your face and even your hair and beard were covered with blood. I could read the pain on your face. The blood vessels seem to explode from the pain you suffer. All this flashed in front of my eyes. My heart was wrung with pain. I could not help but suppress a scream that almost escaped my mouth. I opened my eyes, but your image is in front of me. All these pains you suffered for our sake. I have seen for my self and what I have seen no one can describe or endure. You suffered all this for

us.

The morrow, I visited Father and told him what I have seen. From his look at me, I knew the meaning of what I saw. As a kind father he explained to me; " Christ wants you to know how much he suffered for your sake." I grasped that I also should suffer for his sake. I must carry the cross. But, help me God, strengthen me and shore up my weakness.

Throughout my life, there was not a year that went by without having to go through either a serious illness, an operation or an accident. In every case, I would be on the brink of death but God used to save me at the end in some way that looked like a miracle. The year 1988 Passed by without one single occurrence and I kneel to You (God) in thanksgiving for your attention and providence. Yet your voice tells me that all these trials were not to punish me or to torture me but to prepare me and to teach me patience and tolerance for pain. I reminisced on what Paul the Apostle said; " Because, you were granted - for the sake of Christ - not only to believe in him but also to suffer for his sake." I learned from this how thoughtful, kind and compassionate You are. You were just preparing me for the future.

I was a happily married wife, the mother of three children. My life revolved around my family. My work and my school were my kingdom. I crowned myself a queen there. It never crossed my mind that I would love anything else more than that. But now I say; there is nothing on earth that I can equate with the tears that You shed for me. The patience of Your work in me speaks of Your omnipotence and of your unmatched greatness. I was married from 1964 to 1983. It never occurred to me that my marriage

would end in such a simple manner and that it would be me who

seeks divorce. But, it was the plan of God. As it happened, in April 1980, I had a severe hemorrhage and I was admitted to the University of Ein Shams (the Eye of the Sun) Hospital where my sister works. The hemorrhage was traced to Ovarian cancer. So I  underwent a Hysterectomy operation. I was sedated by large doses of drugs to control the pain. Then, I went into a coma and I felt that I was falling in a dark abyss. I was assigned to intensive care and the hospital asked my husband to leave a phone number where he can be reached in case of emergency. The second morning I woke up as the doctor was poking me where the operation was performed. Finally I uttered a faint sound, and the members of my family who were gathered around me gave a shout of relief. A matter of fact, they had already given up on me and prepared themselves for the worst. I looked for my husband to give him the good news but he  was nowhere to be seen. So, I sent someone to look for him but they did not find him. As it turned out, he went to work to shrug off his depression over my situation. He was apprehensive of having the bad news first hand. I could see that on  his face when he came in. Yet, his absence was more painful to me than the operation. I could not understand how he can go to

work, knowing that I am hanging there between life and death and does not even check on my situation before heading to his office. This was devastating to my emotions. I decided  not   to be his wife anymore, and we were divorced in 1983 as if by a miracle.*

( * The translator: would she have been still married to her husband chances are she would have never had the freedom of action or of religious expression. Moreover she would have never been able to leave the country. According to Islamic laws, a wife must have the

permission of her husband to have a passport or to travel for more than three days without the company of a chaperon so to speak)

I also remember when I was walking with my son; tall and handsome; I looked at him and a nostalgia for days past dawned on me. He was my first born. We were walking on the side walk and there comes a teen-ager riding a bike, trying to avoid a car when he hit me in the shoulder. I lost my balance and fell on my foot twisting my ankle in the process. My son accompanied me to the hospital. No bones were broken but I had internal bleeding from torn muscles and tendons. I went to

stay at my brothers house. His wife is a wonderful woman. There were two very painful days. But there was another pain; I could not go to church or read the Bible which became a daily " thing " for me. I reminisced; how can I put my hand on the plow and look backwards ! Then I prayed that night for You to heal me. My sister-in-law woke me up the next morning bantering with me; " What is all this sleeping ! " I looked at my foot; it was healed and I was able to stand on it. There was nothing surprising about the incident. I asked for healing in the name of Jesus Christ and in his name all requests are granted. Glory be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. My children came to visit me and my son was chafed to see me walking on my foot despite the doctor's orders to me to stay still for 10 days. However, I protested and said; " I am going back to my apartment." All of them objected but I went there anyway. When I was preparing for a shower, I noticed the sign of a small Cross on the spot where I had the internal bleeding. Now I learned and understood, that those who put their hand on the plow should never look back. Forgive me lord; I love You more than anything else. Your love is incomparable with anything else. I am all yours and will only be yours. The sign of the Cross remained there

for three weeks until the foot was completely healed, then it disappeared.

The scholastic year is drawing to a close. The final exams period is here. I tried to appear as normal as I can. I must leave my job. But help me Lord; everyone is looking at me in a different way. They are curious about the total change they observe in me. Even the school principal who was a very good friend of mine is now distancing herself from me. Everything is different. Totally different. One day the Social Worker of the school came to see me in my office; she thought that I have a psychological problem. She kept probing me; " What is the matter with you ? No one hears your voice nowadays ! Where is the Nahed that we knew ? " I wanted to tell her that the Nahed she knew is dead; the Nahed in front of her now is a daughter of Christ. But I responded to her by saying; " Now I know God very well and this is why I changed. Bygones are bygones. I want to live a new life." Of course my reply did  not   sit well with her. She added; "Is there anything bothering   you ? Is there a problem ? We can think it over together." I replied saying; " Does my tranquillity indicate any problem or any uneasiness ? " She said with an air of disbelief; " No. Your face is lighting up and you appear to be in excellent health. But, there is something that has changed you totally." I said; " It is nice that you describe me in this way. Rest assured; there are no problems, there is nothing that annoys me and I am thankful for your concern."

No one will understand,

What is it with me,

Except those,

Who experience,

Your wonderful love.

CHAPTER 13

UNDER SURVEILLANCE

The days went by, slow and heavy. Thank God the schools were closed for the summer vacations. I will visit every where (with my friends) mornings and evenings. My Christian friends began visiting me in my apartment. We had wonderful times chanting canticles and hymns, studying the Bible and praying.

It never occurred to me that I am under surveillance. Someone was watching every move I make; when I go out and when I come back and who visits with me. It was my landlord. He began assaulting my visitors verbally;

" I know who you are very well.

A lot of you visit her and come by.

A lot of your kind come asking about her."

I have got to move out of this apartment to another one. But how ? It  is not that easy. I tried to forget the matter and enjoy my life in Christ. (The translator: housing is very tight in Egypt.

Engaged couples wait 4-5 years before they can get married until they get hold of an vacant apartment.) The cause for this surveillance was; THE TAPE THAT WENT OUT OF HAND.

As it happened; on Saturday June 10, 1989, I went with some friends to visit the Monastery of Abba Pishoi. Some of the Fathers in the Monastery asked me if I would tape a recording recounting my encounter with Christ and the wonderful work of the lord with me as a testimony. For the record they asked me to mention in the

taping, my name and the names of all those whom God employed with me. I agreed. Everyone assured me that the tape will be kept very confidential and that it will never leave the monastery.

The summer holidays came to an end. We went back to school. From the first moment I put a foot in the school I felt so suppressed as if I can not breathe. I felt uneasy. Few minutes later I was met by sarcasm and despising looks from my colleagues. I was stunned. How dare they ! They would not even dare to stand in front of my office before. Now they dart these black looks at me ! Some of them were aiming at me their expressions such as ; " She lost

this world and the world to come." " Cursed she will be until the Last Day." " Killing her is a mercy."

I decided to find out for myself why they are doing that. So I went to visit with a deputy principal, a Moslem to ask her what is this all about. When she saw me, she turned her face away from me in anger. I asked her; " What is wrong ? Why do you meet me like that ? " She retorted quizingly; " What is wrong ? Don't you   know what is wrong with me ? " I said; " Believe me I don't." She said; " I don't believe you. Swear to me that you don't know." I said; " I do not swear and I do not use God's name in vain." She said; " Oh; you know God ? " I said; " Sure. I do know God. There is no God but God." She screamed in my face; " Complete it." I pretended that I do not understand what she implies and pretended to be angry and said; " Did we reach this level ? I am sorry. I can do without that." I went back to my office. I have grasped every bit of it. But how did they know ? I was going crazy.

Shortly after that a Christian colleague came to my office and told me that one of my tapes is floating around where I mentioned

my complete name, Samiah's name, Moufeed's name and the

others. The tape was all over the place in the hands of the Christians and the Moslems. That is why every one knew. How did the tape spread so widely like that when I taped it barely three weeks ago ? Exactly 21 days. Where is he who promised me that the tape will be very confidential ? I almost lost my balance. How did it reach Moslems hands ? I began to collapse. What do I do now ? I could not stay another moment. I rushed back to my apartment. I felt wounded; a deep wound. I am perplexed. I threw myself between your healing hands O Lord. What do I do now ? You know that they want to assault me in the school. I can not bear the looks in their eyes nor the words they direct at me. Strengthen my weakness. Your advice was; " Resign and change residence. No one will dare touch you or assault you."

Thanks to you Beloved God. You always lead me. To resign my job is simple. But housing ? No; I will not think about it. I will trust your providence. I began to compose myself. Then I remembered that today there is a meeting. I should go and attend. I will probably find a comforting word or a message from God. As it happened, I met one of my friends who introduced me to a relative of

hers; an engineer by the name of Ayad. A decent (good) Christian. He asked me ; " Are you comfortable in your apartment ? " I knew then who led me to the meeting. It is my Good Lord. I told him that I would rather move and live among Christians. He welcomed the idea and told me that he knows of two Christian brothers; building contractors, who just finished a new apartment building and that they have a small apartment for rent. He asked me to give him a couple of days to find out the availability of the apartment.

CHAPTER 14

THE RESIGNATION

AND

THE CHASE

The next morning, I went to school and presented my resignation. The Principal approved it with amazing speed. I took it to the School District Administration where it was approved by the General Superintendent. The request was forwarded to the Senior Assistant Secretary in the very same day. I felt the power of the Lord moving things. Thanks be to You (O Lord). I prayed and said; " O God, shore up my weakness and strengthen me. Help me so that I shrug off any fear from them. Make them fear me. Shut their mouths, blind their eyes so that they do not see me. Make me stand up to them with your power and with your help until the final approval of the resignation by the Department of Education.

Next day, Ayad phoned me to tell me that the two contractors agreed that I take the roof-top (penthouse) apartment in their new construction. He made an appointment for us to go there together to see the place. I was elated. We went to see it, it was not finished yet but it was a beautiful one. They promised me to finish it in less than a month. I looked around, and there was the church of the Virgin Mary across the street from me. I closed my eyes in a little prayer, but I felt as if two people are trying to throw me over from the top to the street. I opened my eyes quickly but there was no one. What a fright. What happened to me ? Is it a counteraction of elation? I suppressed my feelings and went home. I decide to visit the place again under the pretext of following up on the progress of the work. I had the same feeling again but in a more pronounced way that I almost screamed. I did not know what to do, but on my way home, I

prayed to You (God). I do not understand this feeling ! What do you mean by this ? I decided to tell the story to Father Peter may be I find an answer from him.

I went to the church to see Father Peter. Where is he ? No one knows. There were conflicting answers. He is on a vacation, he is sick, he is..., He is... I felt that the matter is more serious (than people are willing to reveal). Very shortly after that, one of the "servants" (Shammas; the word is originally a Hebrew word for the laymen who help with the chores of the church and in the service. It is equivalent to the word deacon in English) in the church came and I received a shock. Father Peter has been arrested by the State Security for two days now. I wept bitterly. For me he was a loving father. I found from him an answer to every question I had. I used to dump my troubles in his honest hands. I loved in him the Christ who dwelled in him, in the bottom of his heart and in his soul. It is no use now. I have to pray for his sake. My kind and gentle Lord, please help him, strengthen him and give him all support. I know that he is strong by your grace. Help me Lord to withstand this shock; the shock of missing him (Father Peter). I began to get hold of my self when I knew that Father Peter went back to his home. He resides now in one of the monasteries.

It was now time to move to the new apartment. As the time drew near, the more frightened I felt. But, I can not back off now. I informed my land lord that I am moving and indeed I started packing up my belongings. Amidst this confusion, Ayad called me with an urgent message. He would like to see me right away. (When we met) he said that the owners of the apartment would like to talk to me. We met with them and the shock was devastating. One of them said; " I am sorry. I will not be able to lease the palace for you." I said; "Why ?" He said; "I was telling a friend of mine in the

State Security that you will be moving to our place. He said don't you ever help Nahed in any way. She has a very big problem with the State Security and who ever helps her will expose himself to serious action."

The shock was devastating. I remembered that feeling, that I had, every time I visited this apartment. But throwing me from the top of the house was the least of the two evils for me; this and the torture I go through. I went back home devastated and feeble. I threw myself into the hands of god; "My Lord, my wound is so deep; more than I can take. ;Lord send your help soon. Strengthen me and help me to endure this." Your voice came to me; " What happened is in your interest. You will see that later. Now calm down. Tomorrow you will find the solution when you visit the monastery."

The next morning, I went to visit the monasteries of Wadi (Valley) of Natroun. There, I met Samir; an engineer who is a good and decent Christian. He is full of the grace of Christ. When he knew what happened, he said to me; " I have an apartment for you in the City of Victory (Medinat Nasr). My cousin owns it and he wants to sell it. He has put an advertisement in the newspaper for that reason. There will be no liabilities there. We agreed on a time to meet again, to know the response of the apartment owner.

Glory to Thee o lord.

You are always the same,

As you trained (taught) me.

You always stretch your hand,

To wipe our tears,

And to bandage our wounds.

Your providence is awesome.

I understand now the explanation (reason) of the fright that gripped me (every time I visited the roof-top apartment). Everyone knew where I am moving to. So you prevented me from moving there and arranged for me to have an address that no one knows. We wrote the contract and I got the keys. It was a one bedroom apartment, in a cooperative, in the 10th District of Victory City, very reasonably priced.

Thank You my kind Lord, you always arrange things in a way so that they are the best thing for us. You arranged for the price of the apartment for me. It was far away in an almost un-populated area (which enhances my privacy). Samir began doing some repairs in the place, installed an electric meter hence no one has ever occupied the place before. I beseeched you that the Department of Education approves my resignation so that I do not have to travel every day from the 10th District to Helmeyyet el-Zaitoun. Your reply was; " You will get what you asked for by the end of august 1989. I decided to move to my new apartment after you filled my heart with your peace. Moufeed came with a van and was accompanied by Samir and another friend. O Lord bless him with every blessing and save him from any evil. I left Ein Shams (The Eye of the Sun) in peace after I spent there some fifteen months.

The next morning, I went to the Department of Education. When I met the Office Manager for the Senior Deputy-Secretary, he greeted saying; "Congratulations Nahed. The Secretary has approved your resignation." It never occurred to me before, that I would submit my resignation myself, and that I would be elated to see it accepted. I will rejoice only in you. I took the decree with me to hand deliver it in person to the Education Administration and with your blessings every thing was moving so fast.

When I was through, I went to the school to tell Moufeed and Samiah. I sat in my office for the last time. It was indeed a splendid one; green carpets on the floor, shatters that match the carpet and off-white painted wall. It contained three fancy desks; one was mine, one was for the use of the Deputy Principal who was a Moslem and who did not like me, and the third was for the use of two teachers who were assigned to assist me in carrying the functions assigned to me. The office housed also the safe where exams papers and questions were kept as well as the printing machine used for printing the questions for the exams.

I looked around for the last time and reminisced on how vain (conceited) I was with myself and my intelligence. How did I fight to take charge of important functions and how did I resort to unflattering tactics to be the " Supreme Ruler " of the school. How naive I was ! Now I leave everything to follow you. All these are trifles. I now understand the words of Paul the Apostle and the depth of its meaning. Today I proclaim, Beloved Lord, that when

we fall in your love and grasp how much you loved us,

all things lose its value in our eyes, not as nothing but that you are everything to us.

Moufeed came and sat beside me as usual. I consider him my son. I looked at him and remembered the day I asked him; " Why did you tolerate me Moufeed all this time despite my sharp tongue and my being inconsiderate of the feeling of others ? " Moufeed reply was; " Two years ago, when you called for the investigation of the four Christian students and the two Catechism teachers, because of the wall magazine (which contained quotations from the Bible), I prayed to God in tears saying; " Lord, why do you leave this woman humiliate your children and frighten them in this manner ? " Then I

fell asleep. I saw myself walking down a forest full of trees but thy were all dry and lifeless; only stems and branches but no leaves. The land had big wide fissures from the drought. The whole view provoked disgust. Then, there was a big tree growing fast with a lot of green leaves. Its branches extended high in to the skies. I stood in front of the tree admiring its beauty in astonishment. Then another tree branched out from the first tree. It began to grow up fast and to green up fast in amazing speed. I stood there looking at the trees and

said to myself; " Great are your works our Lord, but I do not understand what you mean by these trees." I heard a loud voice saying to me ; " Remain beside Nahed and support her. Tomorrow you will find God in Nahed." I woke up from the dream quite puzzled by what I have seen. Is it at all conceivable that Nahed could become a fruitful tree that I would glorify the works of the Lord in her ! " But this is God's guidance; I must obey (follow) it. I stood by you, helping you and shielding you from the assaults and the inconveniences that you were the target of, until the day came when you assaulted the Christian School Principal. I reflected on the matter saying, what I have seen must have been from Satan not from God. She is a trouble making woman. I went home that day crying and regretting all the help and protection I extended to you. That night I saw a strange vision. I saw myself walking down a wide clean street. There were lights in the sky. I lifted my head to look. I saw a big lighted Cross surrounded by twinkling stars. Then a small lighted Cross appeared; it was also surrounded by twinkling stars. I murmured; Lord I do not understand the meaning of what I see. Then the big Cross disappeared and your face appeared in its place, and the small cross disappeared and your daughter's face appeared in lieu of it. I said loudly in disbelief; " Is this conceivable ! Nahed a big cross in the sky ! And your daughter too ! No. This is incredible. The scenery was repeated in front of my eyes three times; your face then the Cross, your daughter's face then the cross. In the third time I said; " Lord, I know you are capable of anything." When I woke up, I was sure you have been invited to the faith. I thanked God for his great deeds with you and with your daughter. I waited for the day until it came and glorified the Lord and I will glorify him for ever. I concealed all what I have seen in my heart over two years, until god fulfilled what he has revealed to me."

I looked at Moufeed. He is a beloved son to me. I remembered the day I have seen you (God) in the vision and when I told Moufeed about it. I reeled back all the happenings of the last two years when You flooded  my  life  with  your light. The days went fast   with  all what they brought. I had to make my choice. Thank you Lord for making me choose you and for the strength you gave me till the end.

Dear Samiah came and hugged me. I feel that she is both a daughter and a mother to me. It is a wonderful feeling I never felt like it before. I love her very much. I love her in Your Name. I asked her; " How come you were not afraid of me like the others ? What made you so strong and so self-confident towards me ? And despite all warnings to you (by the school Christians) you were unconcerned ! Where did you get all this courage from ? " Samiah looked at me in endearment and said; " When I received the circular announcing my transfer to the High School of Helmeyyet el- Zaitoun, it was a shock to me. How am I going to work with Nahed, the religiously intolerant Deputy Principal who has no compunctions about hurting Christians. The Principal as well is just as intolerant against Christians ! I stood in front of God praying to him and pleading with him to defend and help me in this school. After I finished my prayer I went to sleep. I saw my self standing on an elevation that looked like marble. It was very clean despite the fact

that everything around it was dirty. But the dirt was away from me because I was higher. There was beside me a water tap, and a small white basin; very clean. Pope Kyrillus (Cyril) came by. He is a saint and I loved him very much and I used to visit him a lot before he passed away. He said to me; " Wash your hands Samiah." I said; " My hands are clean." He repeated what he said again. I washed my hands three times. Every time I washed my hands I went back to him, he repeated what he said again and I went back and washed my hands again until the third time. Then he grabbed me by the arm and said; " Go to the School of Helmeyyet el-Zaitoun. You have a special assignment there." When I woke up from my sleep, I reminisced; I am a secretary. This is my job. May be I will have another assignment that I will know about it later on. After I met and started to talk to you about Jesus Christ, I realized that you are my special assignment that brought me to the school. I loved you despite all that I heard about you, and despite all what you did in front of me (with other Christians). I felt a strong bond between us. Now I know why I loved you. Is there any bond stronger than the love of Christ ? " She then hugged me again and said; " You are my daughter. You were born the Second Birth on my hands. I am blessed to see this with my own eyes, and to know that God used me as an instrument for the salvation of a person like you."

"Lord how unsearchable are your judgements !

And how inscrutable are your ways !

For who has known the mind of the Lord !

Or who has been his counselor ? "

Romans 11: 33-34.

Lord how long have you been preparing,

these things for me,

With such a patience !

I know You are kind hearted,

Compassionate and Patient.

Now, I will go to deliver all the keys that I have to the Principal. I will never be back in my office any more. I do not regret anything I will miss, except the good times I spent with Samiah and Moufeed. I will never ever forget that I have seen my affectionate mother the Virgin Mary in my room, as well as the aroma of incense (associated with her mention). This was the place where my new birth began, but I also know that You (God) will be with me everywhere I go. And why not ! Especially that I crowned You the undisputed king on the throne of my heart. And yes; with no other partner. You know how sincere I am and that is all that counts for me. I can not say that I sold everything to follow you. If I said that, I would be giving myself an undeserved glory. But the fact is that You knocked

on my door and I heard Your voice and You helped me open the door for You. You came to my house and had supper with me and became everything to me, by thought, by mind and by heart. You were in charge. In every step You decided and You thought. This is the truth. He who surrenders to our beloved Lord in all sincerity, the Lord will be for him the eye with which he sees, the ear with which he hears, and, the tongue with which he speaks.

O my lord, I wish that all know how I feel.

I want to shout and speak about you,

Every-time and every-where.

Now, I have all the time to do just that.

How sweet is the lord !

I must proclaim to the world how I feel.

It is beyond apprehension and imagination.

I wish I could find the right words,

To express these feelings.

Help me lord, help me.

I left the school to come back later in ten days. To complete the formalities of Release from Service. Lord, I know you are truthful to your promises. I moved from the old apartment in Ein Shams to the new one in Nasr (Victory) City on august 26, 1989.

My resignation took effect on August 27, 1989 just as you promised me. Thanks. My apartment was in the 10th District of Nasr City. This is a quiet neighborhood, thinly populated and most of the housing is vacant. No one will watch my moves here. No one knows who I am. I do not mix much with the neighbors, and none of them knows me. I started my activities back in the church proclaiming the work of our beloved God with me everywhere, in monasteries, in the homes of friends as the occasion permits.

On the Ninth (9th) of September 1989, I went to the school to go through the routine of the Release from Service from the Department of Education. This will be the last time I enter the school. My heart was palpitating with incredible speed, but you (God) are walking with me ahead of me to light my path.

I went to the office of the Principal to sign the form of "The Release From Service". She locked the door, called one of the Moslem Deputy- Principals and she asked one of the Assistant Deans of Students to stand outside the door and to prevent anyone from coming into the room. Then with signs of trouble all over her face,

she said to me; " Before I sign your release, I want to know (from you), is it true what I have heard about you ? " I replied her in a calm manner; " And what is it that you want to know the truth about ? " She asked; " Are you now a Christian ? " I said to her; " Why do not you ask whoever told you about that ? " The Deputy raised her voice and said; " We do not want any prevarication (evasion). We want a straight answer." I raised my voice higher than her's and said; " I am 47 years of age, educated and have a Degree in Education. I will not allow any one to interfere with my life."

I was stunned by the Deputy rushing towards me and snatching me by the arm saying; " You are my sister in Islam, and Islam says; " Those who see a wrong must redress it' and I am going to redress you with all power possible." I lifted my heart to the lord and said; " O lord look at me and help me. Rush (to my side) and support me." Then I looked at her, calm and collected and said; " Who told you what you are saying." The principal quickly came near me trying to cool the situation and said; " Did you say that you made a study comparing Christianity with Islam and that you became convinced that Christianity is the true faith ? " I answered her confidently; " No I did not say that." Then she added; " Did you say that our Lady Mary told you to stop persecuting the Christians ? " Again I answered her in total confidence; " No, I did not say these words." But, wondering that I may have denied Christ by this answer, I added; " I said that I saw in a vision, what I saw (and gave her an account of what I saw) and described him as I saw him in the vision, white, captivating, golden hair that flowed over his shoulders, his eyes are as blue as the sea water. He spoke to me and I gave him a promise, and that I have every intention of honoring my promise." The principal asked; " And who is he ? " I said; " The angel of God." Both of them screamed together saying; " Now we

are sure. The way you talk is disturbing to us. Your answers elicit doubt. You do not deserve to live and you do not deserve to receive a pension from the government. You shall pay a dear price for that."

Here, I found myself shouting at the Principal with amazing strength; " Sign this paper. Sign." I saw the principal sit quietly on her desk, sign the Release as quickly as she could. Then she handed me the document, which I took and rushed to the door. There was a bench behind the door to prevent me from going out. I threw it to the floor and (quite honestly) I do not know how I got this strength. Then I rushed to the main gate while the Principal and the Deputy-Principal rushed after me trying to catch up with me but they failed.

I went out in the street in an atmosphere of suspense and disbelief for everyone (all of us) them and I also. How did I get out in peace ! I could not believe what happened and why ! I walked into the street, crying from the (psychological) pain that I endured, reeling back all what happened. I lifted my heart to the Lord. Forgive me Lord; know that I am weak. I pray to you Lord, shore my weakness, strengthen me and forgive me.

I went after that to the church. In the church I feel that I am in Your gracious company. There I met some friends. They told me that someone came to the church asking about me. He had an air of authority and from the way he spoke, they gathered that he is a non-Christian. They added that he was waiting for me inside. I refused to meet with him and left quickly to my apartment. My wound from the Principal and the Deputy is still hurting and bleeding.

 

I can not stand any other wounds for the time being. Lord I sat between your hands and asked you; " What do I do ? " Your answer came to my heart; " You must leave here right away." My heart was wrung with pain. I have hardly been here for two weeks in my new apartment. Where do I go ? Everyone has rejected me. Everyone has distanced himself from me. They all are afraid to be associated with me.

In the morrow, I went out to phone Moufeed. He is strong by the grace of god. He, sure will come to my help as he always did. Then I received the shock that shook me from toe to head. Moufeed has been arrested and he is now in jail. Moufeed in jail ! Why ! What crime has he done to be in jail ? Lord have mercy. I know very well that he is your son and that you love him more than my love to him. My heart is torn with agony. He is in jail because of me. No; it is your will. Let it be your will not mine. You have everything in your hand. I went back to my apartment but your voice kept urging me to leave and go away. As I was mired in this perplexity, my daughter came to visit me. She told me that the Police was in their home Yesterday " and asked about you." We told the Police we know nothing about you and that we do not know your new address. They went to school and the Principal told them that you have been released from service two days ago, and that no one knows where you are or where you live.

Yes Lord, Your providence and shepherd-ship surrounds me. I feel your strong arm holding me. The Police goes to school two days after my release and after I changed my residence to Nasr City and no one knows where I am. Now I understand why you told me, when I lost the apartment in Zaitoun (a suburb of Cairo) that this was in my interest. Yes, everyone in the school knew that I will be

moving to Zaitoun, but it was the Omnipotent’s plan to protect me.

This is the truth.

I experienced it my self.

Anyone who puts his life, In your hands,

With a sincere heart,

You will plan his life,

And chart all his moves.

Glory be to you for ever.

Your wisdom is beyond,

Human comprehension.

Then I remembered the verse that Father Peter wrote for me; the one he asked me to memorize and keep in front of my eyes always; " Who is he who says and it happens, when the Lord did not authorize it ! " ( Jeremiah; 3:37)

I decided - after I listened to your voice very clearly - to go to Alexandria. But, I first have to get over with the machinations of the pension procedures at the Administration of Education. I went out to go to the Administration, but before reaching there, I felt uneasy and uncomfortable. I overcame my feelings and entered there reciting the verses of the Psalm; "O lord come to my support, O lord rush and help me." Everything was over in surprising speed. Your kind hands move everything. Now the only thing left, is to receive the check for the severance pay; three months salary. This will have to take sometime and I will have to come back a week later to finish with it.

I must go to Alexandria, then come back after a week to finish with this matter. Or, may be I send my daughter to pick it up. I went

back to the apartment to pack for the trip. It never occurred to me that this will be the last time I will ever see my apartment again. I spent all I have to buy this place and to fix it up, with all electrical appliances. It is simple but nevertheless comfortable, but let it be your will not mine. The next morning, at 6:00 o'clock in the morning, A friend came by and we took off to Alexandria. On the way we stopped at the Monastery of Abba Pishoi.

We visited the Fathers there and the one who promised me to keep the tape " top secret ". I looked at him chastizingly to see what he did to me, and where is Moufeed now. What will happen now to Samiah ? But, I know very well that it was your will and I will not interfere with it. I have given you control of my life and all I have. Do with it whatever pleases you. You are my kind father and I must yield everything to you, if I am to deserve to carry your name.

When we arrived at Alexandria, some friends hosted us and they took me to a villa in Agami (a seaside suburb of Alexandria). It is a very quiet place. All the aestivates went back home and there was no one else but me in the place. The others went back to Cairo and I stayed there alone. I asked my daughter to go to the School District and pick up my

check. It was all that I own now. I threw myself at your feet my beloved Lord. Lord I am suffering. I carry a heavy load. Help me. I will bring my load to your feet. Hug me to your kind bosom, wipe my tears and the blood of my wounds. Glory be to you o Lord. You always bring us comfort with every tribulation. I will never forget what I saw that first night in Alexandria. I saw your beloved face with blood running down on it while you looked at me in compassion. You who have suffered all this for my sake. I

remembered your suffering. Forgive me Lord. I must know how much you suffered for my sake, and I ought to suffer also for your sake. But, you have to shore my weakness, strengthen me and help me so that I may be prepared to carry my Cross and follow you.

The days went by, dragging and heavy, until the weekend. My daughter came by with some friends. She told me that when she went to pick the check, the employee in charge refused to give it to her and told her, that " I must pick it myself." She left him and went to my sister; who happens to be the Public Relations Manager for the Administration and asked my sister to pick it up on my behalf. The employee in charge refused to hand her the check "As per orders issued by the Administration's General Manager ", " Because you are wanted by the State Security."

Later on, my sister sent me a message with my daughter. The message outlined three options that I have to chose from:

4606. Option one; to go to the State Security Headquarters with my brother-in-law (who is an officer in the Intelligence Service), and my other brother-in-law (who is an aviator/pilot attached to the Presidential Palace). My role to play was to issue a statement that the tape is a falsehood. That I lied under the influence of the Fathers working under the guidance of Father Peter. That they lured me into taping the recording. Then I will have to tape another recording -in my own voice- refuting the contents of the first tape. In return, I will be given a safe passage and will not suffer any consequences.

4607. Option two; should I reject the first option, the family will admit me to a mental hospital (as mentally incompetent). The

whole family will testify that I was in fact mentally deranged since my birth. Given their high positions in the government cadres, they will have no credibility problem whatsoever. I have two sisters. One brother-in-law is a First Deputy and the Deputy of the Department of local Government. The other brother-in-law is a Professor of English in the College of Linguists (languages and translations). In addition, my brother is a Manager at the General System for Organization and Administration. (These probably will be the people who would testify about her mental capacity).

4608. Option three; the family can, if they want, kidnap me, kill me and bury me without any one investigating the matter. That they already had filed a missing person report with the authorities and authorized a search for me. As well, I will not be able to go abroad, because my picture have been distributed to all points of exit, including airports.

I cogitated. My sister can not be serious. Is it possible ! She must be just bluffing. I decide to get in touch with her to verify things. I got in touch with her, and I wish I did not. She swore to me with every oath that she will go through with the third option if I fail to choose between the first and second options. And, her husband, who is an officer in the Intelligence Service, assured me that he will have me arrested in 48 hours and that he will force me to do what he wants. How can hearts change so fast and become so petrified like that. It is even more cruel than stones. I felt that the whole world became narrower than a needle's eye. I became depressed that I coveted death. I wish I die now. When the owners of the villa heard what happened they became concerned and asked

 

me to move to another place because they do not want to face the consequences.

CHAPTER 15

WANTED AND HUNTED

Yet Lord, you do not give us a trial, and leave us. But with the trial you give us an escape. My daughter added; " Engineer Samir has got the news and he is on his was to move us to an apartment in Ma'mourah (another aestivation suburb of Alexandria)". It is also an apartment in an aestivation area. There is no one else who lives in the whole building. You can stay there (and no one will know you are there). Samir came and transferred me there. Every one else went back to Cairo. But, I was not alone. My Lord kept me company. He was my family and my relatives. His love and kindness are enough for me.

Three days later, I heard your voice wake me up to tell me that I should leave Samir's apartment as soon as possible. I was surprised and cried to You (Lord), why ? Where to ? And why leave ? A few hours later my daughter phoned me to tell me that Samir has been arrested by the " State Security " and that I should leave his apartment as soon as possible. What do I do ? (Where do I go ?) You inspired me the solution. Go to the monastery and you will find a solution there. And, indeed I went there. One of the Fathers was very pleased to see me saying; " I was praying that God may inspire you to come here." Then he added; " A friend (of ours), when he knew what happened to you, he gave us the key to his apartment which is in a high-rise in the heart of Alexandria looking over the sea. No one lives there now because it is occupied during the summer season only. (It is basically used as a resort residence). He is quite agreeable that you stay there as long as you want."

 

O my Lord. If I glorify You, thank You and praise You with each breath I inhale (or exhale) I will not do justice to Your providence. If I knelt in front of You till the last moment of my life, it would not be enough. This is the way You are my Lord; You wound and You heal, You crush and You redeem. At the same time, Father invited me to spend two days with his family in the town of Kalioub (a town north of Cairo in lower Egypt). I used to phone my children from time to time to see how they are doing. Last time my younger daughter asked me not to phone them at the neighbor's home because they get embarrassed. She told me to call them at my younger sister's place. I felt uneasy at my daughter's request. Why ? Her neighbor is a decent woman and so are her children. Every time I phoned for my children there, she was quite obliging. I asked my daughter; " Is this a ruse ? " She assured me that there are no ruses, and that I became hypersensitive about these matters. I gave her a time to call her at my sisters place.

I phoned them from Father's home. I noticed that my son was artificially stretching the conversation pretending that he wants to be sure that I am all right. Also, my sister was eager to help. Yet there was a latent feeling of anxiety that was killing me. The call ended. It lasted 15-20 minutes. Then I heard the Lord's voice telling me this was a trap. They duped you, ambushed you and managed to get the caller ID Number. Half an hour later the phone rang and someone wanted to know the name and address of the phone owner under the pretext that there was a parcel sent to the owner from abroad. That the parcel had no name or address but just a phone number to call. I immediately realized why my daughter made that request; to call them at my sister's place. My brother-in-law is attached to the Presidential Palace and definitely was able to

 

trace Father's phone number. O Lord how stupid they are. They could not wait a few hours to find out the information they wanted through the regular channels. The warning for me was to escape, came right away from them (her family, through their act). Great.

I left quickly. My heart was being torn into pieces. My sister, my son and my two daughters plan an ambush to me in collaboration with the State Security ! My son, the son of my life ! My dear young daughter and my sister !!! I could lose my mind. I do not believe what happened. But, it is so written; " The brother will deliver his brother to death, the father his son and the children will rebel on their parents and murder them." " You will be rejected of all because of my name. But those who persevere till the end shall be saved."

My Lord I have put my hope in you.

Help me endure (these trials and tribulations) until I meet you.

I thank You Lord. You strengthen me and You support me.

I always find You at my side.

I thank You lord because,

by the grace You granted me,

I became stronger than the trial.

I thank You Lord;

You made me worthy, to suffer for Your name.

I went to the monastery of Mar Mina (Mar is a Syriac word equivalent to the words Abba or Saint) the Miraculous, to spend there three days without telling any one who I am. I used to wake up early to attend Mass, partake in the Communion and spend the rest of the time praying. There, I began to compose and felt comfortable and tranquil.

 

On the fourth day, I was surprised by Abouna's brother coming to take me. I asked him; " Did the Police know your name and address ? He said; "No. Certainly not. The Police did not come. It seems (to me) that your fears make you imagine things that are not there. Let us go and spend sometime together (at the family home)." Yet his demeanor and the way he spoke made me feel uneasy. What do I do now ? I have no choices ? I gathered my belongings, but while I was going to the car, I heard Your voice in my heart; " This man came to deliver you to the Police ". I became ridden with fright. God, what do I do ? Do I leave him and go to Alexandria. He

knows my address in Alexandria. I am confused. I rode in the car with him, raised my heart to our beloved Lord. Lord I do not want to fall in their hands. They are merciless beasts. Would you abandon me to them ? Your answer came to me; " Do not worry. I will save you at the right time, so that all may know and glorify my name." I said; " Lord shore up my weakness and forgive me." If you really are going to save me give me a clear sign. I am afraid. It is raining now and the clouds are blocking the sun. Let the rain stop now and the clouds dissipate. Let the sun shine. It was not a moment, when the rain stopped, the clouds disappeared and the sun shined. I thank You lord. You have filled my heart with your peace.

I noticed that he was driving the car at a low speed; 40-45 miles an hour on the Cairo/Alexandria Desert Route. From time to time he would check his rear view mirror. I pretended that I do not grasp what is going on. I   asked him; " Why are you driving so slow ? " He replied; " The car has some mechanical problems and I do not want to speed it up so that it may not break down on the road." On the way, I heard the voice of the Lord telling me; " Make a stop here, at the farms of Abba Pishoi Monastery and you will see my work." I asked him to make a stop at the farms of Abba Pishoi.

At the begging he objected. But, when I prevailed on him, he agreed to stop there for a few minutes only.

There was the surprise. They all knew what happened at Abouna's house. And, they were all stunned. " Where are you ? Did you know that the Police raided Abouna's house after midnight and arrested everyone ". It was a severe shock for me, even though I knew (it in my heart). But ! I looked at Abouna's brother chastizingly. He said forgive me. I weakened when I saw them beat the old father so savagely (it is the tradition in Egypt that elder parents live with their children as members of the same household).

I told him that I forgive him and that may God forgive him, but now he will have to go alone. He said; " No. Please. You must come with me ". I told him; " You think I am out of my mind ? I go to them of my own will ? Yesterday (metaphorically) your brother asked me to tape my experience with the Lord, to mention my name in full and the names of those whom God has used in his work with me. He promised me that it will only be a documentary for the

record to be kept in the monastery's library (and to be treated in total confidentiality). The next day the tape was all over Egypt. To day you want to convince me to deliver myself to the Police ? "

What an agony ! I sense every bit of bitterness. I feel that I am being torn into pieces. Now I know, how one feels when is exposed (subjected) to treason. Forgive me Lord; I am not judging anyone. We are weak. If we do not seek help from you, we would not endure anything. Now I feel the extent of your pain and torment when You were betrayed by one of your disciples. Thank you Beloved Lord; you made me worthy to relive a part of your pains. Now what do I do ?

 

The monks in Abba Pishoi Monastery gathered around me in a circle. One of them said to me; " You must surrender to the Police. There is no sense in being on the run. The ring is narrowing around you and there is no escape." Another said; " I saw you in a vision with blood around your neck. This I interpret as you will be killed." A third said; " Don't you want to be a martyr for the sake of Christ, and Christ himself calls you saying; come to me O blessed of my Father. Inherit the realm prepared for you since the creation of the world ? " I felt as if everyone of them was holding a knife tearing in me, without mercy or sympathy.

I reflected; may be they are right and may be I should surrender. I opened my hand bag, emptied out everything in it and gave to them and decided to surrender. But I must go to Alexandria first, gather my belongings so that the Police does not find it there and bring aggravation to my host. I also must hand my daughter to her father so that she avoids what is awaiting for me. I had no doubt about what awaits me at the State Security. But, I was certain that  he who was with three young men in the heated hearth will be with me and will save me. And why not ? I feel like his pampered daughter.

So, I let Abouna's brother leave alone, while I decided to wait with my daughter at the Rest House (an oasis style facility midway on the Cairo Alexandria Desert Road) to find a ride to Alexandria. Sure enough a man with a truck stopped for us and gave us a lift to the Rest-House. We waited there for an hour trying to get a taxi going to Alexandria. Then the Greyhound bus came and we got seats there to Alexandria. On the way I lifted my heart to you

Lord and asked you; " Is this the end ? I will have to surrender to the State Security ? You know them. You know their savagery. And I

am weak. Shore up my weakness; I may not endure their torture. Answer me lord; What do I do ? " The answer of my compassionate Lord was; " If I wanted you to surrender I would not have let you know that he is coming to deliver you (to their hands). And I told you to visit the farms of Abba Pishoi Monastery so that you learn the truth there, and to give you a sign that I will not let you fall in their hands." " No. Do not surrender. Go to Alexandria and hide there."

My Lord, how great you are.

You are the living and compassionate God.

You make me feel, as if I were the only one on earth you care for.

You are looking after me, protecting me and defending me.

You make me feel, as if I am the only center (focus),

Of your attention and shepherd-ship.

How great is your love o Lord.

I love you because indeed You deserve to be loved.

And because You loved me first.

Let me love you, know you and trust you.

I arrived to Alexandria tired and exhausted. But your peace - that is beyond comprehension - fills my heart and my soul. I must change residence and go somewhere else. This friend may yield my address to them and they may come to arrest me. But time is too late now. While I was absorbed in this debate, his face lighted the darkness for me. I felt safe and decided to spend the night there, then in the morning look for another place. In the morning, the Lord led me to a good Christian family, who had a small furnished apartment. We leased it and moved there the same day.

I did not tell the family who I am so as to stay in peace the

longest time possible. I called my friends in Cairo. One of them did not believe his ears. He said; " Are you really Nahed ? I do not believe myself. We heard that the State Security arrested you and killed you. Stay where you are for a week and do not go out until we come to see you, and know everything from you." I strived to stay at home and did not go out except for emergencies.

One day my landlady rang the door bell. When I let her in she said to me; " Did you hear about the Moslem woman who believed in Jesus Christ and became a Christian. Her name is Nahed." I said to her while I was trembling with fear; Yes I heard of her. She said jubilantly; " We brought her tape that she made in which she recorded her experience with the Lord recounting how she saw Christ in a vision, and how he talked to her." I commented; " And you believe her ? " She said; " Sure. Certainly. Why would a lady like her, of her status and caliber, from such a powerful family expose herself to such risks unless what she says is true and factual."

Glory to You Lord. This is enough for me. It is enough for me that you chose me, not because of my righteousness but to shower me with the abundance of your glory without measuring. I thank you , and I will always thank you with every breath I breathe and I will still be short. I accompanied her to her apartment and listened to the tape. It was as if I was hearing it for the first time. I relived every moment of it.

O how awesome are you my Lord !

How great and how wonderful you are !

You are the sweetest thing in the Universe.

I find nothing to compare with you.

You are incomparable.

After we listened to the tape she said to me; "The police knows that she is in Alexandria and are searching for her." I realized that I should leave Alexandria and go somewhere else, but I should wait until someone comes to move me to another place.

Two days later a trusted friend came to see me. He did not believe his eyes when he saw me. He told me; " We heard that you phoned your children at your sisters place. This was planned in cooperation with your children to pick the phone number where you are through the State Security Network in order to locate your place of hiding. Thus they knew the name and address of the phone owner. The Police went there at mid-night and searched the place thoroughly. When they did not find you, they arrested every one who lived in this address. They were savagely beaten and tortured. It was under this extreme pressure of beating and torture that he almost had little choice to deliver you to the Police. He agreed with the Police to go to Mar Mina's Monastery and to deliver you to them. He was accompanied by two unmarked State Security cars that tailed your car. When you stopped at the farms of Abba Pishoi Monastery, the unmarked cars preceded you to the Rest-House. (The Rest House is an "Oasis" style establishment in a strategic spot to serve highway travelers, and to survey the road in all directions). The two cars waited there until they saw his car pulling out to the main highway. They thought that you and your daughter are still with him in the car. They tailed him until they reached the outskirts of Cairo; which is about an hour and a half driving time. That is when they discovered that you are not in the car." " They (the State Security) immediately installed road blocks to stop all the cars entering Cairo and searched every single one of them looking

for you. When they did not find you they returned back to the farms of Abba Pishoi Monastery hoping to find you still there. When they failed, they then propagated a rumor that you were killed while you were trying to escape in the desert, and that they left your body where you died. The companion who was with you is now being tortured in prison. They also arrested Samir - the engineer - because he helped you get an apartment. There was also another person - who works at the audio library in one of the churches - who was arrested because he was found duplicating your tape. Engineer Rashad was arrested because your daughter worked in his office as a secretary and he was helping you financially. They were all arraigned for the crime of Evangelism and Preaching Christianity, assisting you in recanting Islam and adopting Christianity, and criticizing Islam. Now that they know that you slipped between their fingers, they are now intensifying the search for you in Alexandria, and at road blocks at the outskirts of Cairo and Alexandria."

Glory to Thee O Lord.

For the second time,

The State Security is blinded by stupidity.

Our car was tailed by two state security cars,

For over 60 miles

Without rushing to arrest me.

When we went to the farm,

They went straight to the Rest-House.

When the car I was in passed by them,

They thought that I was still in it,

And they followed it,

For another hour and a half,

Before realizing,

That I am not in it.

They were blinded and could not see,

That I am not in the car,

While I escaped to Alexandria.

You plagued them with stupidity.

They fetched the cars entering Cairo,

And not the ones entering Alexandria.

And by the time they caught up with their mistake,

I would have moved,

And changed my address,

To a new one that no one else knows.

All these plans to save me.

What a perfect plan !

You promised me that,

I will not fall in their hands,

And so it was.

How can they get to me,

When I am in your protection ?

I will hide in your bosom,

And you will surround me with your arms.

Yes his left hand is under my head,

And his right hand embraces me.

Yes; I am for him and he is for me.

My love is for me and I am for him.

Now, I have to leave Alexandria and go to Cairo. You have planned everything for me. A friend invited me to stay with her in an apartment building she owns. It was a furnished apartment. I picked up my belongings and we took the car. At the exit of Alexandria, there were the roadblocks and the State Security personnel were searching all cars coming out of Alexandria. When our turn came to

stop at the inspection point, an officer waved us to keep moving without even looking inside the car. How can they stop us when you are walking in front of us, leading our way!

We arrived at Cairo, and traveled across the city to Heliopolis. The building was in the vicinity of Nuz-hah Police Station. They all know me very well. I should not open a window or go out in the street, make any sound or even open the door, so that no one knows that there is a tenant in the apartment. All they know is that it is empty and closed. I must follow these guidelines; I have no alternative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 16

THE EXODUS FROM EGYPT

The days went by slow and heavy. I was under extreme pressure. Sometimes we were hungry; very hungry, but we could not leave the apartment. I can not violate the shroud of secrecy that I am wrapped in. I had to wait till the evening to find someone to bring us food. Sometimes this friend had to travel, and would leave us for two days without food. There was nothing to do but to be patient. Forty days passed by on this routine. May be I sinned and God is disciplining me; he who the Lord loves, the Lord disciplines him.

I prayed; O Lord forgive me if I have sinned, whether intentionally or unintentionally. How long will I suffer like this? I feel like a prisoner in here. A friend promised to get us two passports to travel abroad, but was unable to do it. Lord, I can not stay like that any longer. Your sweet voice came to my heart; " You did not understand what I told you from the beginning, just look at me. When you said I am afraid, I said does not be afraid. Just look at me. Though I delivered you from danger several times, You are still afraid and you still look to mortals for help. Get up and go out and I will arrange for you to get a passport, in your new name, to go abroad. He is the same one who promised you before. But when the tape became widely distributed, and the situation got out of hand, he became apprehensive and distanced himself from you. I will grant him peace to carry this assignment. Do not be afraid. My peace will fill your heart."

Oh, forgive me Lord. I am weak. Shore up my weakness and strengthen me. The next morning I went out in the streets in your

protection and with your providence. When I phoned this friend, he responded saying; " I was just thinking about you yesterday. My family and I were discussing your case and after we prayed we all decided (the man, his wife, his mother and his sister) that I should get you two identification cards and two passports for you and your daughter. Please bring some pictures for both of you. Try to change daughter. Please change your looks in the pictures. Please do that as soon as you can."

I could jump out of joy when I heard this. Just yesterday, they decided to get us two new ID Cards (the translator: an ID Card contains almost all the Vital information about an individual includes his religion, profession, electoral district, date of birth, age, place of birth, weight and height, etc. As well as a picture identical to those of passports) at the very same time you talked to me. You told them to go ahead and do it, and so it was. How can it be otherwise  when you always deliver on your promise! I knelt at your feet to thank you and your voice came to my heart saying; " I will give him peace and he will get the passports for you and for your daughter."

I traveled to see the man. He lives in a little town some 70 miles out of Cairo. He welcomed me and I could see the true Christian love in him. He is neither a phony nor a hypocrite. I handed him the pictures. He promised me to get the passports in two days only. I returned to Cairo. What is all this change! I walk openly in the streets of Cairo and Heliopolis. I take public transportation. I am no longer afraid. The peace of the Lord fills my heart.

I was full of anticipation. I counted the hours and the minutes remaining for getting the new ID cards; in my hands. We went back to see him (in the little town he lived in), and he was true to his

 

Promise. He handed us the two cards. Why not when the Lord ordered! I thanked the Lord and the friend asking me surprised me; " Are you planning to go abroad or are you just planning to come back in circulation with the new identities? " I said; " No. I am thinking of going abroad. But, let it be God's will not mine. Why do you ask me this question ? " He said; " I would be willing to get you and your daughter two passports, but from another town. What do you say ? " I said; " Agreed. Of course." He said: " Give me ten days to finish all papers required." I thanked the man.

On the way I lifted my heart to You Lord to thank you, and none else. I will always thank You as long as I live. You are true to your promises. You have everything in your hand, and with you we do not need anything. If everyone just knows how you manage the lives of those who put themselves in your hands ! So simple and so fast, you filled everyone with your peace. In a moment, he who was afraid of me and distanced himself from me, changed and offered me to get me the ID cards and even goes as far as to offer to get the passports.

O Lord of eternal glory !

Bless this man with every blessing,

Protect him and keep him in your faith;

He and his entire household.

May Your Holy Name be glorified,

Now and ever and forever.

I thank you Lord, I praise you,

I kneel to you till the last moment of my life.

I returned home and decided to go back to Alexandria. We do not need a private car. We decided to take the Greyhound bus. Your

face O Lord is ahead of me lighting my way. Lead me Lord. I will walk behind you, in jubilation and peace, happy and safe.

We went to Alexandria; to that apartment in the quiet spot looking over the sea-shore. It was December, the weather is cold, and there is almost no one around. But you are always with me; dwelling in my heart and in my soul. I love you Lord.

More than ten days went by. The passports must be ready by now. I went to see this dear friend who was getting them for us. He had them ready, sealed and signed by two witnesses (in compliance with the law). We then went to another town and got The passports. They were issued with amazing speed. We got them the same day. Yes Lord; you are the provider and the manager. There really is no need for amazement. It is your wonderful work. How can it be not wonderful, when you are wonderful. Blessed be Your Name.

We returned to Alexandria with the new ID cards and with the new passports. But there is a problem; how do we get entry visas to other countries? And which country (do we apply to for an entry visa?). I recalled that in one of the 50 days I spent in Cairo and Heliopolis, my good Lord led me to visit one of the churches and met the priest of that church. (I went to visit him) and I was taken by surprise when he said to me; " You ought to surrender to the "State Security". There is no escape and there is no need to keep on the run. There is a lot of people who are now in jail because of your case." I told him quietly; " This is God's will. I have nothing to do with it." He responded; " Do not forget that they are very frustrated because they were unable to arrest you. So, they are arresting anyone who knew you or even anyone who possess a cassette of yours. There is no need to let people hurt more than that." I said to him; " God has promised me that I will never fall in their hands. And that I have

another work to do where he will employ me to do. He (God) said to me; do not be afraid. I will arrange everything." He smiled as if I was just babbling and said; " I think the sooner you surrender the better it is for yourself." I said to him; " May be if I surrender, and they begin to beat me and torture me, I weaken and tell them the names of those who were helping me financially and those who opened their homes for me." He screamed; " Don't you ever mention the names of any one of them. Every one knows that you had an important position, a high salary and a car. You can say that you were using your savings from your salary and from the sale of the car." I said to him; " God reassured me that I will get a new ID with a new name and a new passport with a new name and that he will arrange everything for me and my daughter and that we will be able to go abroad." He replied; " If you can do that, I can get you an entry visa to a European country." I shook hands with him and went on my way.

One word stuck in my mind; he can get me an entry visa to a European country. I remembered the conversation and immediately phoned him. He answered the phone himself and gave me an

Appointment to hand him the passports. O my Lord; Heaven and Earth would vanish but one character of your words will not. I confess to you, I proclaim you, I have experienced the truthfulness of your promises first hand myself. I thank you Lord because you brought me to know you, to love you and to put all my trust in you. I wish I knew You earlier than I did, but you always pick the right time.

Next day we returned back to Cairo. We took the Greyhound bus. Great. What a wonder ! At the roadblocks, they were inspecting private cars only. Not the buses. They figured that I would not have

the courage to take the bus. They think that I am still afraid running from one point to another in cars, or may be in the trunks of cars.

But, they do not know you, my Lord. They have no inkling about the meaning of; " If God is with us, who can be against us? " They have no feel of the depths of its meaning. I, through your grace, knew it, lived it and experienced it my self. I feel like shouting at the top of my voice; " Taste and see, how sweet is the Lord."

In Cairo, I went to church in full daylight, I handed him the passports and I had to go back to Alexandria the same day. I had to take a shared ride in a taxi. At the taxi stop, they wait until they gather their load of seven passengers then take off. However, it does not matter; my Lord is with me. My daughter and I sat in the front seats beside the driver. Some where along the road, the cab was stopped at one of the roadblocks for inspection. The officer stuck his head in the back section of the car but he never looked at us. He did not see us. I am pretty sure that he did not see us. He waved the driver, and here we went away. Glory be to my God and my Lord the Savior and Hope of all mankind.

The Year 1989 went by, and 1990 came in. I stood in your presence and thanking you Lord (for all what you have done for me). The happenings of 1989 reeled in front of my eyes, and what a year it was. All these happenings and your right arm shadow me, protect me and save me. Blessed is your Holy Name. What use are my days on earth, if they are not with you and for you. I yearn to see you. When will my expatriation on earth ends. I am a stranger in this world. Lord brings me near you. O Lord, who cares for me as a mother cares for her suckling, where do I get the money for the tickets? How will I

pass? Through the customs inspection when my wanted picture is all over the country. Yes I have a new name; but my picture! Yet I know that what is impossible for me is possible for you. You are my hope. I put my load at your feet, and I will never forget the written words.

Then, your kind voice came back to my heart and said: " Do not be afraid. Just look at me." I felt comfort and peace. You always fill my heart and my soul with peace. That night, I saw you handing me the airplane tickets. When I woke up, I stood in front of you, thanking you, glorifying you, praising you and asking your forgiveness for my weakness. I think with my limited human brain, forgive me Lord.

The days passed by. We went to pick the passports (after obtaining the visas). We took the Greyhound bus to Cairo. The State Security is still looking for me, yet no one sees me. I got the passports with the entry visas approved. Then, Father said; " I have three thousand (3000) Egyptian Ponds for you from the priest of another church who was looking for you because he knows you will need this money. He also arranged the sum of $ 1000 dollars for travel expenses." I said; " I will not take the three Thousand (3000) pounds because this is the tickets money. I saw in a vision, my Father in Heaven handing me the tickets. Would you please buy the tickets and give them to me? " He agreed. I thanked him and we went back to Alexandria. Again, we only had the shared ride to travel. We did. Same thing at the road blocs; they were looking for us and they do not see us. Thank you my kind Lord. You have filled my heart with peace and helped me throw the fear out.

Before I go back to Alexandria, I felt nostalgic to one of my friends. She is a good Christian whom the Lord filled her heart with his light. She accepted me, opened her heart and home to me when

others distanced themselves from me. She stood beside me and hosted me for more than a month. She lavished me with love that I felt she is my mother and I felt like her mother. Her husband was like my brother and her children my child. O lord blesses her with every blessing. Protect her and surround her. Bless her husband and her children. I asked you Lord; Do I go and visit her? You said; Go. Do not be afraid. I went to see her. When she saw me she hugged me with all her love and kindness and we both felt that we love one another in your Holy and Blessed great Name. I Spent an hour with her. Time passed very quickly.

Then her brother said to me suddenly; " What do you think; why don’t you travel from another port, other than Cairo Airport. Take another means of travel to another destination, then fly from there. Do not go directly to your destination." I found his idea good and reasonable and I felt it was a message from you. Now I understand why I felt the nostalgia to see her and why you told me to go see her and have no fear; to guide me to the way I should travel.

How great are you O Lord and how wonderful you are? I love you. My heart and soul proclaim your love. My thoughts and my brain are fascinated with you. If everyone knows your providence that is beyond comprehension and imagination! No imagination can reach you. You who feed the birds of the sky, the fish in the sea and even the worms in the earth without being asked. How much then are your gifts to those who put there days and their lives in your hands and proclaim you. Lord, you always make me feel that you give me all your attention. I feel like your only and spoiled daughter, whom you lavish with love, kindness and attention. Glory is to Your Name.

 

CHAPTER 17

THE DEPARTURE

We arrived to Alexandria, with the words of my friend's brother still ringing in my ears. I knelt and thanked you my kind Lord and asked you if it was a message from you, and that if this is the route you want me to take, then inspires Abouna this idea. I praise You, I glorify you and I kneel to you till the last breath. Two days later, Father gave me a call and said; " Come tomorrow. Bring all your belongings with you. I have here your reservations." When I met with him, he surprised me by saying; " I felt a whisper in my ears that you should avoid Cairo Airport. Travel from another port and by other means. We will divide the trip. You will not go straight to the host country, but to another country and from there to the host country." At this moment I was reassured that it was your voice. You are closer to me than myself, because I am in you and a part of you. Aren't we all members in the Body of Christ! Lord how sweet is your company. You take care of our comfort and guide us in all matters.

I took the tickets from your holy hands. After We prayed we bid Father farewell. We also bid Cairo farewell. I do not think I will ever see it again. How did I love my country and how did I love to stay in it. But let it be your will and not mine. So many times did I pray to you when the noose tightened around me. O Lord, as you led your people Israel out of the Land of Egypt, lead my daughter and me too. Now next Sunday, I have to take the train to my first stop.

We reached the city of our departure. We stopped there a few days. Time went by fast. I stood there in prayer saying as Moses said; "Lord if it does not please your face, then do not let us leave here." Your answer came to me; " Do not be afraid. I protected your steps." I said to you; " Lord, lead my way to comfort me."

We went to the port. We were there on time. I entered the passport office with my daughter. There, I could have fallen to the floor. Forgive me Lord; it was a critical and tough moment. I saw my picture on the Passports Officer's desk (a State Security officer; not a civilian) the officer took the passport and the ticket, examined the passport for a moment, asked me why am I traveling. I answered;

almost trembling; " For medical care. I have some relatives there. I will be staying with them." He stamped the passport and let me pass. My daughter was behind me and passed in front of him. We went to the departure area. I could not believe myself.

A minute later, they paged me on the Public Information System, asking for my passport to examine it again. My heart palpitated higher than all the sounds around me. I sat and could not stand up. I called my Lord; " You promised me Lord not to fall in their hands, I trust your promise." His voice came back to me saying; " Do not be afraid. You will go in peace." A minute later the officer came back, calm and gave me the passport. He did not utter one single word. Glory to you Omnipotent.

When they announced that we could board, my daughter and I ran and forgot our luggage on the ground. The most important thing was to get out of the port. We sat in our seats and I took a deep breath. But before I can exhale, our name was paged again. I felt total collapse and could not stand or answer. My daughter went to see what happened; we forgot our luggage, she brought them back with her.

 

A few moments passed, and we moved further and further and further.

CHAPTER 18

IN PRAISE OF GOD

I write this in front of God,

You Lord know how truthful every word I wrote.

I thank you beloved Lord;

You strengthened me and supported me to complete this work.

You made me a witness for you.

My Lord You are the living God. You are He.

You are Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

You are The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

I proclaim you Lord;

Your promises are right and your promises are true.

I believe and witness to you Lord;

Heaven and Earth could vanish,

But one character of Your Holy Words will not.

I believe and witness that,

Every word in your Holy Book is true and right.

I have experienced this myself.

My Lord, I write this as you asked me.

But forgive me Lord.

I was apprehensive that,

If I write all my experiences with you,

People may think it is exaggeration.

Lord bless these words,

That they may bring blessings,

To those who read them or hear them.

O my Lord; You who changed my stone heart,

With another heart that you know how it is.

Touch everyone’s heart,

So that they may know You, Love you and put their lives in your hands.

You loved them all first.

Now, I feel pleased with tribulations,

And feel happy when I suffer for your name.

I have lived the words of Paul the Apostle;

"For who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulations, or distress,

Or persecution, or famine,

Or nakedness or peril or sword?

As it is written for thy sake,

We are killed all the day long,

We are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.

No, in all these things,

We are more than conquerors,

Through Him who loved us

(Romans 8:35-37)

Nahed Mahmoud Metwalli