New Church Development in Egypt - February 2017 Update
God is at Work in Egypt!
When thinking of contemporary Egypt, several thoughts may come to mind: Arab Spring, Muslim Brotherhood, bombing of Christian churches. Although true, today they are moderated by words only God can make happen: new churches, evangelism, revitalization of old churches, sending out new pastors. That’s what the Evangelical (Presbyterian) Church of Egypt is focusing on through the efforts of the Synod of the Nile.
Currently, there are 392 Presbyterian churches within the Synod, including 95 church plants, or “fellowship groups” as the Synod labels them. In 2016, the Synod started 17 new churches in cities, villages or slums of Egypt. They are also focusing on church revitalizations of old churches in small towns and villages. It is amazing work when considering the vulnerability and marginalization of Christians in Egypt.
New Church Development
New church development through the Synod of the Nile has two primary components: new church plants and land grant churches. Church plants generally come from the “fellowship groups.” They are started in locations where there is no church. Oftentimes, it is in Christian ghettos and slums. A new pastor is assigned an area and begins with home visits to Christians in the area. Small groups are started, and eventually a spiritual body is formed and they begin meeting in a single location, typically a home, apartment, or store front. After several years, they begin the process of building a “church,” which may look like an apartment building or business from the outside. The work of these new congregations is to build each other up as the body of Christ and to help the local community spiritually, socially and developmentally, which includes literacy classes, medical clinics, nurseries and vocational training. It’s quite a sight stepping into a small store front and seeing 100 or more people shoulder to shoulder worshipping our Lord Jesus.
The second type of new church development is land grant churches. In a country that is 92% Muslim and controlled by a Muslim government, it is hard to comprehend that the government is giving land to the Christians to build churches! Only in God’s economy is this possible. The Synod of the Nile has received 17 plots of land on which to build churches. However, there is a bit of a “catch.” They are generally expected to complete construction of the churches within three years or forfeit the land and any improvements that have been made. The Synod is working furiously to raise funds to finish the churches. Unlike in the U.S., building mortgages are unheard of. They build until they run out of funds, then stop until more funds are available. Congregations grow quickly in these churches because they are built in satellite cities, which are becoming the new population centers around the major cities of Egypt. It is humbling and inspiring to step over concrete rubble and rebar to be a part of a worship service in a partially completed building. Praise God for the tenacity and courage of these Presbyterian brothers and sisters.
The enthusiasm of the new, young pastors to preach and teach in dusty villages and slums is overwhelming. Rev. Shenouda is an excellent example: He, along with his wife and baby, left Cairo after graduating from the Evangelical Theological Seminary to serve the El Adaima Church. Adaima Church was started 110 years ago in a small farming village 30 miles outside of Luxor. Over the years, as the population moved to the cities from the villages, Adaima church suffered. Membership significantly dropped, the century old church building fell into disrepair, and the attached pastor’s apartment became unlivable. Knowing all this, Rev. Shenouda enthusiastically went to Adaima to revitalize the church. Today, the apartment has been rebuilt thanks to a generous gift from an Outreach partner church, the membership has increased to 200 and the church is becoming vital once more. The building is still in great disrepair but is busy with activities six days a week. In addition to building relationships within the church, Rev. Shenouda is reaching out to Muslim leaders in the area. They meet to strengthen their own relationships and discuss ways to help the village.
Want to learn more?
Outreach staff is available to come to your church to share what God is doing in Egypt. Also, consider joining us as we lead a group to Egypt October 23 to November 3. Click HERE to learn more about the Egypt trip. Gifts for the work of the Synod can be sent to the Outreach office designated as “NCD in Egypt” or you may give online HERE.
Read more about New Church Development in Egypt by clicking HERE.
Outreach is seeking $2,000 per month to support the planning/revitalization of Presbyterian churches in Egypt