Having This Ministry
A Digital Newsletter from Living Stream Ministry

A Report on 2023 Cairo International Book Fair, January 24—February 6, 2023

The 54th annual Cairo International Book Fair (CIBF) was held in Cairo, Egypt, January 24 through February 6, 2023, and for the fifth year in a row the Arabic literature work in Egypt was able to present LSM ministry publications in Arabic openly to the public. The interactions with the public and the reception to the Arabic ministry materials were, by far, the best we’ve had since we began participating in CIBF in 2018.

2023 Cairo International Book Fair

The 2023 CIBF was again held at the splendid Egypt International Exhibition Center. This year 1,047 publishers participated, 26 of which were Christian publishers, including LSM through the Arabic literature work in Cairo. (There is very sweet harmony and cooperation among all the Christian publishers at the book fair every year.) Almost all the publishers at CIBF publish Arabic-language materials, and for this reason this book fair attracts people from all over the Arabic-speaking world and the rest of the globe. This year over three million visitors came to the book fair during its fourteen days of exhibition. CIBF is the largest book fair in the world for the Arabic-reading public as well as the largest in the world that is open directly to the public.

Originally, we requested and were assigned a nine square-meter booth, but sovereignly the book fair administration awarded us a larger, eighteen square-meter booth, right on the corner of two major aisles in our hall. This afforded us much better foot traffic than before and many more encounters with visitors to the book fair. We received many compliments from the public about our booth and the display of our titles.

Our Booth

By the Lord’s grace and mercy, we were able to have twelve new titles in Arabic at CIBF this year. Also, Life-study of Genesis (7 vols.) and Life-study of John (4 vols.) have now been completed and were available. In total, 98 Arabic books or booklets were on display in our booth. Many of these were translated over the past two decades by a couple living in the Middle East, but translation work is now being actively carried out in Egypt and Estonia by a small team of serving ones. (Currently, some of this team are laboring on the translation of the New Testament Recovery Version into Arabic. Please pray for this.)

Life-studies in Arabic

The ones serving in the booth were all Arabic speakers who have been gained for the Lord’s recovery through this ministry. Some of them have been to or are now attending the full-time training in Pretoria, South Africa. Another serving brother, who first found our books at last year’s CIBF, has since read many titles, and this year he was able to speak to many about his own enjoyment of the books and led many to get the books themselves. As the saints in many churches worldwide were praying for CIBF, these dear serving ones were faithfully standing in the booth morning to evening to receive the hundreds of visitors who came. Of course, many Christians came to the booth, but so did many from the predominant religion in that part of the earth. CIBF provides a unique opportunity for anyone to browse through all the kinds of books that are presented there, including Christian books like ours. The serving ones were able to speak freely about the books to anyone who desired to know about them, and visitors, including many who were not Christians, were free to acquire any titles that attracted them. This is highly unusual in this part of the earth. Often the serving ones used The Mystery of Human Life in Arabic as a lead-in to further conversation about our books. But many times the book titles themselves invited questions and dialog, titles like The Mystery of Christ, The Heavenly Vision, The Knowledge of Life, and The Normal Christian Faith (all in Arabic).

Here are highlights from some of our interactions with visitors to our booth:

  • This year we had many more young people, especially college-aged, from the predominant religion in the region.
  • A few high schoolers came to the booth and asked about the booklet What is Regeneration? After the serving ones shared about the booklet’s contents, one of them experienced what regeneration is!
  • Dr. I., a professor at a public university in Cairo, saw The Knowledge of Life and liked the book very much. He then asked specifically about books that interpret the Gospel of John. A serving one asked him why the Gospel of John specifically, and he said that it is because John is a book of life. When he was shown Life-study of John, he bought all four volumes. He said that the Lord Jesus cared more about life and didn’t charge people “to go to churches.” He left his contact information and ended up getting The Knowledge of Life, The Tree of Life, and The Crucial Revelation of Life in the Holy Scriptures as well!
  • A pastor from Sudan, who has visited our booth at CIBF in previous years, came back this year for more Witness Lee titles. He really enjoys these books and said that they explain the deep things in the Bible that many other teachers cannot even understand.
  • A girl from the predominant religion came to the booth with her friend and saw The Mystery of Human Life, which she had previously read. She was excited to tell her friend about the booklet and was able to recount the contents to her from memory.
  • The serving ones put up a handwritten sign in the booth that read: “Terminating the Past: 10 Egyptian Pounds” (equivalent to about US 33¢). This became a meme on Arabic social media, with the expected sarcasm (e.g., “Take my money!”). But it caused many young people to search for our booth to see the sign and take a picture, and many got the booklet! As Paul says, “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truthfulness, Christ is announced” (Phil. 1:18).
  • Several believers were instructed by their group leader to come to our booth to buy a particular book for reading in their study group.
  • A few believers came to stock up their book table for sales to others. (We’re offering them a better discount!)
  • Some relatives of one of the serving ones came to the booth at different times and were happy to see the work that she was doing. They gladly received some of our publications.
  • One of the serving sisters thought she recognized a woman from the predominant religion who visited the booth and asked if they may have met sometime before. The woman explained that she was the dean of a faculty at one of the universities in Cairo, the university where the serving sister had studied. It turned out that the woman was one of the sister’s professors and was pleased to see all the books that the sister was offering.
  • One of the visitors was so excited about our books that she asked if there was a reading group that she could join to get into the book. The serving ones immediately decided that there would indeed be a reading group, and from then on others were invited to join it. It will begin soon.
  • There were innumerable contacts from Egypt at 2023 CIBF. But in addition to these, ones from the following countries were also contacted: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Chad, Eritrea, Gambia, Indonesia, Iraq, Malaysia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Palestine, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, and Yemen.
  • Many visitors filled out contact cards for further follow-up, and these were invited to the Cairo Blending Conference, coming up on February 23-25, 2023. So far, seven visitors are expected to attend.
  • After the book fair one of the serving ones, now a full-time trainee, said that he now realizes how crucial this book fair is, because people from many countries come and can freely meet and talk to us about our faith.

We are so grateful to the Lord for this opportunity to present this ministry at 2023 CIBF and to see Him moving in so many hungry people. The books went out to many whom we hope to stay in touch with and to shepherd into the church life. We also know that many others received our books whom we may never see again in this age. Our hope for them is that they will nonetheless benefit from this ministry and welcome us into the eternal tabernacles in the next. “The prudent believers will be received into the eternal habitations by those who shared the benefit of their prudence. This will be fulfilled in the coming kingdom age (cf. 14:13‑14; Matt. 10:42)” (Recovery Version, Luke 16:9, footnote 4).