Today was another day of visits to church projects in the Cairo area. We are accompanied on these visits by Elder Magdi Reddy who serves with the Outreach Council of the Presbytery. He gives us wonderful background. One of the things that we love about Magdi is that he describes every church as "unique."
Cairo Presbytery currently has 50 active Presbyterian Churches. Their vision and goal is to plant 25 more projects/churches in three to five years. And they are doing it! Their vision and purpose is astounding. One of the words from our devotions last night that Kimmy led us in was "Imagine." Just imagine what God would do if Cairo Presbytery alone increased by 50%? Imagine! Oh, that more of our churches had such imagination and faith about what God would do.
Our first stop today was at the 6 October Church. It may sound like a funny name. It is the name of one of the many new cities that Egypt is building. It is named for the war in 1973 in which on October 6 Egypt regained the Sinai. This church is led by Pastor Tharwat and his wonderful council that met with us. This church was first started in 1993. As with all of the New Church Developments they started with home visits and began social services. Unlike some of the churches and areas we have seen recently, this one is quite lovely, although there is poverty in the area. The church is reaching out in tangible ways to meet those needs. This includes a number of Syrian refugees who have come to this area.
Pastor Tharwat has been here for six years. The church currently has a lovely worship space and is growing so fast that it needs to expand. One of the unique outreach projects of this church is a dormitory for 70 young men who attend one of the 21 colleges in 6 October. They hope to expand to provide such services for young women as well. They also have a wonderful nursery where very sweet children sang to us, and they provide medical services.
Our next stop was in another nearby new city: Sheikh Zaed. This church was planted by 6 October Church. Tamer Saied is the pastor. They currently have a flat in a building that is still under construction, but they have finished the flat and use their own generator for electricity. They currently have 25 families who meet in the flat. One of our great joys was in stopping by a nearby piece of land that the government has provided for a new church building. This is a great joy...but they have not yet given the license to build. We each scooped a handful of the dirt at the site and prayed that "the way might be clear" quickly so that they can begin building...and that the funds will be available.
One interesting story about the city of Sheikh Zaed...it was made possible by a Saudi Sheikh Zaed. He liked Egypt so much that he said he would provide funds for a new city to be built. His statue is at the front of the city. But...he stipulated at the time that there were to be no churches there. Thanks be to God things have changed.
One last stop today was Hadiek el Ahram Church. This church is in the shadow of the Giza pyramids in a new compound that is being built. It was just started in March 2014 by Pastor John Yacoub Henein. So far through his visits he is ministering to 86 families, but they have no place to gather together. They have a small very unfinished flat (dirt floors) that they will finish and be able to begin worship together. But even better they have their eye...and their imagination and faith...on a piece of land just next to the flat and envision the day they will buy it and build a church and minister to the 10-20 million people who will be in this compound.
We are continually humbled and challenged by these brothers and sisters in Christ by their faithfulness. We end every meeting with a time to pray for them. We ask you to do the same.