The animosity in Egypt got worse in 2011, when massive protests led to then-President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster. Violence erupted in July when Mubarak’s elected successor, Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist, was forced out of office and his Muslim Brotherhood party blamed the Copts.Dozens of churches, Christian-owned shops and homes were burned in the two days following Morsi’s removal.She had seen churches and homes burned in her city, and was too worried about the violence to send her children to school.Mary — who asked to be identified by only her first name while she works to get permanent resident status — and her husband originally went to Saudi Arabia after leaving Egypt. It’s added more church services to accommodate the overflow crowds, holding some events in the attached elementary school gym and initiating an Arabic-language liturgy on Saturday morning for the newcomers. Mark was established in 1976 with about 80 families, according to its website.“You can find many people to help, of course, but it is very easy to lose someone in the crowd.” The purpose of the ministry is to sign up the newcomers so that the church can reach out with its services.Those services include helping new immigrants find and furnish apartments, get their driver’s license, and enroll their children in school. “In the last two years, we’ve had a huge influx of immigrants coming from Egypt due to the persecution of the Christians specifically being targeted by the Islamists,” said Fr. He said about 10 to 13 families are arriving each month. If anyone had an enemy, they could punish their enemy,” said Girguis.
And even though some have moved away, Copts hold their homeland in their hearts, he added. “I know after coming here, it would be a long time before I could go back,” said Mary, sitting with her friends and their children at a table scattered with empty cookie wrappers. “Egypt is our country.” Andrawis, the volunteer greeter, has been in the United States for 18 years. It’s very unpredictable.” But here in Virginia, he said he’s working to “bring all of God’s children together,” so at least they can take comfort in each other.On a recent Sunday, he stood in the lobby of the church wearing a crisp gray suit and a broad smile, greeting everyone walking by him. The number has since dropped a bit as he’s gotten to know people.Having such a large Coptic community is both good and bad, he said.When Mary, a 29-year-old Coptic Christian from Minya, Egypt, landed seven months ago at Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia, many thoughts were swirling in her head.How would she fare in the United States knowing so little English?