Last month (June) we were challenged to fast restaurants. The heart of the fast was not about staying away from McDonalds so much as it was about hospitality. Hospitality is a big deal in the Arab world—and it has been for quite a while (check out Genesis 18).
Before I arrived in Cairo, I thought I did hospitality fairly well. I love having people in my home in a laidback, kick-up-your-feet, you-know-where-the-kitchen-is kind of way. This attitude works well here too especially with the interns and students we supervise. Honoring an Egyptian through hospitality, though, is a much more detailed process. Navigating it is a joy, and I look forward to the years ahead of figuring it out.
This past month we joyfully watched our interns experience the beauty of time with Egyptians. Quite often they meet up with their friends at restaurants, but this past month some of our interns took it a step further and invited their friends over to break their Ramadan fast. Ramadan is the Muslim holy month during which Muslims fast food and drink during the day, so it’s a big deal for them when the time comes to break the day’s fast. We were so proud of our students as they honored their friends with a spread of food. But the interns shared more than a meal with their Muslim friends—they shared life together.
Just as the heart of the fast was not about avoiding restaurants, perhaps the heart of hospitality is not about serving people in our homes, but about welcoming people into our lives.