The city of Cairo has its own unique version of poverty called Garbage City. Each morning at dawn some seven thousand garbage collectors on horse-carts leave for Cairo, where they collect the garbage left behind by the city’s seven million citizens. After their day’s work they return to Garbage City, bringing the trash back to their homes, sorting out what’s useful.
In Muslim countries there are certain religious restrictions on sifting through refuse, so the inhabitants of Garbage City are either nonreligious or from some Christian heritage. These are the poorest of the poor; outcasts among outcasts.
In 1972, a young Egyptian businessman lost his wristwatch, valued at roughly $11,000. As you can imagine, it would have been unthinkable to have a valuable timepiece returned by a member of Garbage City. Yet an old garbage man dressed in rags,
Because of the garbage man’s act of obedience, the Egyptian businessman later told a reporter, “I didn’t know Christ at the time, but I told [the garbage man] that I saw Christ in him. I told [him], ‘Because of what you have done and your great example, I will worship the Christ you are worshiping.”
The [businessman], true to his word, studied the Bible and grew in his faith. Soon he and his wife began ministering to Egypt’s physically and spiritually poor.*
People would rather see a sermon than hear one any day—and sometimes the sermon that they see can be life-changing. The Bible says, “’Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven'” (Matthew 5:14-16).