The name Girgis is a Christian one. It’s hard to have this name in Egypt today. It makes people think of the famous St George, of whom the Orthodox Coptic Christians are so proud, and Girgis is convinced that this is what cost him his job in a government ministry in Cairo. His name, along with the small cross tattooed on the inside of his wrist, make it impossible for him to disguise the fact that he is a Christian.
Talking about the Bible
Girgis is not bitter, and certainly not fatalistic: forced into early retirement when he still had a family to feed, he took the only job he could find, working in the offices of a small company in the centre of Giza.
It is an understatement to say that he was pleased when, 18 months ago, the Bible Society of Egypt opened a shop on the ground floor of the building. He got into the habit of talking at length about the Bible with Youssef, one of the shop’s two employees, and they became friends.
Half a month’s salary
Girgis earns 300 Egyptian pounds (US$ 44) a month. Over the years, his eyesight has deteriorated a lot and he dreamed of buying himself a large-print Bible. But the one he wanted cost 150 Egyptian pounds, far more than he could afford. So Youssef came up with a credit agreement for him and for all the other Christians in the building. Girgis is now buying his Bible in three installments, with the third being paid for him by the Bible Society.
He is very proud of his new Bible. “I especially like reading the Psalms and the Gospels, but I also like the story of Joseph,” he says. “In today’s context, the Bible helps me to cope with the challenges I face every day and it gives me great encouragement.”