Have you ever met someone for the first time and instantly you’re drawn to the person, feeling as if he has been your friend for years? That is the way you feel when you meet Dr. Tharwat Wahba.
Dr. Tharwat, as he’s commonly known, is head of the Mission Department at the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Cairo (ETSC) and serves as Chair of the Pastoral and Outreach Ministries Council of the Evangelical (Presbyterian) Church of Egypt. He has a deep love and passion for evangelism, the church, and Jesus Christ. His warm and inviting personality makes everyone feel special. And, he is the epitome of the reason for The Outreach Foundation’s existence and mission.
It can be depressing to hear the daily news from around the world. So much division among people groups, among political parties and their supporters, even among church folks. So, I have been convicted by the Apostle Paul’s challenge to the church at Corinth and to us, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
Precious (not his real name) has the warmest smile and the biggest bright eyes. He has been in the care of Christian Alliance for Children in Zambia, our partner in caring for vulnerable children, since he was 13 days old. CACZ has helped him grow and thrive to the best of his ability. The staff, made up of caregivers, teachers, nurses and housemothers, has been there for him cheering him on from the minute he took his first step, caring for him when he got sick and showering him with love and endless care. Precious’s warm spirit has captivated the hearts of not only his caregivers, but also those working in the administration department and visitors.
There is much in the news about the vulnerability of the Church around the world, where it finds itself persecuted and oppressed in the midst of war and other enormous challenges. It is inspiring and convicting to see how the Body of Christ witnesses to the Good News despite their circumstances. This is the Church of which Paul wrote, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) Suffering in God’s name is nothing new. It’s been happening for 2,000 years. Our Lord Jesus, even before he went to the cross for the ultimate in suffering, warned us of persecution.
Next month I make my 25th trip to China. This blog is a reflection on what I have learned about life and following Jesus from Chinese believers since 1983.
Devoted to God: One of the constant factors in the witness of Chinese believers whom I have met for over thirty years is their desire to know God, to praise God, and to serve God by making him known to those outside the church. The witness literally bursts out in the welcome our groups have received as we come into a church yard on the way to worship.