ECO Egypt Initiative - October 2018
In late 2015 11 ECO churches in the East Central Presbytery came together to create a new mission project called the ECO Egypt Initiative. In conjunction with the Evangelical (Presbyterian) Church of Egypt, the focus of the project was new church development (NCD) and church revitalization in Egypt.
Imagine a denomination of slightly more than 400 churches (the Synod of the Nile) and 106 or 26% of the churches being new church developments! In a country that is only 10% Christian, it is amazing to think the church is growing. “But with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). In addition to NCDs, there are many old, small country churches that need help. Some of these churches were started in the late 1800s by Presbyterian missionaries and they have continued their service for more than 100 years. But with populations shifting from the country to the major cities, the churches have suffered and need revitalization.
The ECO Egypt Initiative was born of that need. Since 2015, the East Central Presbytery has “multiplied” into four presbyteries and the 11 churches that began supporting the ECO Egypt Initiative have grown to 32. Each church was asked to commit $1,000 per year (or whatever was possible) for three years to help ensure continuity with the NCDs and revitalizations. The three-year commitment ends this year.
However, the Synod of the Nile has indicated that the need is still significant and would like the ECO churches to consider continuing their support for the churches.
The excerpted reports that follow come from an extensive update we received from the Synod about the progress and outcomes of those churches. They illustrate the excitement, growth, struggles, challenges and hard work that is being done in Egypt by the brave and courageous church leaders.
Hadayek El Ahram Church (NCD), Pastor Samuel Mahrous: The church in Hadayek El Ahram holds services in a one floor apartment in neighborhood “Z,” Hadayek Al Ahram District. The service is on Saturday evening and attended by about 40 persons. Sunday school is also on Saturday and attended by 15 children. About 15 women meet on Wednesday. In January 2018 the women held a spiritual social day outside Hadayek El Ahram (in Wadi Degla Club). 72 people attended this spiritual day and had a fun time together.
El Adaima Church (Revitalization), Pastor Shenouda Girgis: This church is deep in the country outside of Luxor. It is about 100 years old. The church is mainly women, as there are not many men in the town, and they are very active. There are nine services and meetings each week. Highlights of the year included Easter. The church witnessed God’s presence in the week before Easter Sunday, and they had a busy week:
o Palm Sunday morning service
o Shared fasting and praying in all services throughout the week until the Saturday service before Easter
o Thursday service where they washed each other’s feet as they used to do for many years
o Good Friday service of fasting, worship, prayer, and meditating on Jesus’ suffering, Calvary, and crucifixion ending with a time of community and sharing food
o Saturday evening service including Easter festivities and a short play
Additionally, the women are involved in community service. An event for women was held in the “Islamic Cultural Center” of town discussing children’s intelligence. The event was attended by more than 100 women from the area, including women from El Adaima church. The topic was introduced by a professional doctor in this field.
Bashteel Church (NCD), Pastor Malak Younan: Brother Younan shared that they are meeting in two apartments, one for the service and the other for the nursery. The general service is on Saturday, attended by 30 adults and 15 children. On Tuesday about 15 families attend family services. In January the fellowship started a leader’s meeting for eight leaders. The nursery is open from Sunday to Thursday with about ten children attending. They specifically requested prayers:
o To complete their vision to reach out and spread the Gospel
o To train a committed leadership team
o To buy land to build the church
New Bani Suif (NCD), Pastor Magdi Elyas: This congregation is holding its general service on Friday, which is attended by 24-40 people. Pastor Magdi said that after each meeting people spend time together socially sharing news about their lives. Pastor Magdi, along with other leaders, makes regular home visits to serve children inside their homes. They encourage them and have the opportunity to spread the Gospel to all of the people in the house, not only the children. In October they had a spiritual social day that tackled topics about how to deal with children of different ages and awareness about sexual abuse. Pastor Magdi offered training for leaders who wanted to serve in the area. There are currently five leaders. For some encouraging news, despite the lack of financial resources, Pastor Magdi gave supplies (11 kilos/24 pounds of food) to each family that could not afford them. This encouraged these families, and many are now regularly attending the services. Also, many orthodox people and church leaders have started to attend the evangelical church and serve others in the area.
Please consider supporting the ECO Egypt Initiative and the churches that are so in need of our financial and prayer support.
The Outreach Foundation is seeking $30,000 for the ECO Egypt Initiative.
Click HERE for the full report from the Synod of the Nile.