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RICHEST MAN IN TOWN


In 1972, a young Egyptian businessman named Farahat lost an $11,000 watch. He was stunned when a garbage man dressed in filthy rags found it and returned it to him. Farahat asked him why he didn’t just keep the watch. The garbage man said, "My Christ told me to be honest until death."



Farahat 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.’"


Farahat studied the Bible and grew in his faith. Two years later, he visited the garbage man’s village outside Cairo, where between 15,000 and 30,000 people were living in squalor. There was no electricity or running water. Alcohol, drugs, and gambling were pervasive. Men, women, and children sifted through huge mountains of garbage, looking for something of value that could be sold for cash or traded for food.


Farahat found himself reflecting on the words of Jesus: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." He also remembered the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:13: "We have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things." It was soon thereafter that Farahat and his wife began ministering to people’s spiritual and material needs. They preached the gospel throughout Egypt, and thousands of people turned to Christ.


In 1978, Farahat was ordained by the Coptic Orthodox Church and became known as Father Sama’an. Now, about 10,000 believers meet in a large cave outside the garbage village. It is the largest church of believers in the Middle East.


Just a few years ago, in May 2005, that church held day of prayer for Muslims to turn to Christ. More than 20,000 Arab Christians gathered. A Christian satellite TV network also broadcast the event, and millions more were watching. All this, because one garbage man chose to humbly return a watch that would have made him the richest man in town.


(Joel C. Rosenberg, Epicenter, Tyndale House Publishers, 2006, p. 206. From a sermon by C. Philip Green "Freedom’s Influence" 1/19/2009)

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