A Rewarding Week in Egypt
I’m pleased to report that my recent teaching opportunity in Egypt was very rewarding, perhaps one of the most satisfying of my life. That’s a strong comparison, and I recognize that I may not be fully objective at this point in time. Thank you for praying for me, as many of you have attested. I believe that there is a clear link between your prayer and my ministry.
My good friend, Lee Heyward, invited me to accompany him on a new teaching ministry that came to him last summer. He had not been to Egypt before and knew very little about the Tyrannus Missionary Training School. So this was an adventure for both of us to explore together. Here is an overview of our adventure.
Tyrannus Missionary Training School
The school began in Sudan 3 years ago, but relocated to Egypt due to rising tensions. The vision of the Egyptian leadership is to see ten such schools across North Africa in the years ahead. Pioneers USA is a funding partner and info can be found here.
The curriculum is well developed and is delivered through a rigorous weekly schedule. During our week together the students studied two classes with 9 contact hours in each. I taught the “Epistle of James”, while Lee taught “Spiritual Formation for Leadership”. One of the Sudanese staff took notes during classes and prepared an exam to be administered on Friday.
The students were alert, sitting on the edge of their seats to soak up all that we gave them. Their questions were insightful. The students have varied levels of ability in English, and some very capable. All classroom interaction is translated into Arabic. We were pleased with the capable translators, all Egyptian believers – Vivien is a TV anchor in Upper Egypt at a public station; Sarwat is an HR manager for a large American company; Deena is an administrative assistant in a local bank. They each were skilled in English with an evident commitment to the mission of the school.
The students are high caliber, and deeply devoted disciples of Christ who were selected through a rigorous application process. Only 22 are selected for the 10 month program from hundreds of applications – 11 from North Sudan, 2 from Darfur, 9 from South Sudan. The current accommodations for the school are temporary and not suitable for both men and women, or for couples, so the Sudanese are all young men. Upon arriving at the school they voluntarily surrender their passports so they are not tempted to return home before program completion. Further, they sign an agreement to return to their country as a church planter, but not to their home community. These students come from challenging circumstances, and know they will return to conditions of poverty, war and persecution.
On the same location an Egyptian training school is in it’s first year. Currently there are six students each having a calling to Christ’s mission somewhere in the Middle East. These 6 Egyptian students joined the 22 Sudanese for the week to hear from us westerners. One of these students is a single doctor who is called to carry the gospel to a hospital in Mauritania when he finishes the program. The sole couple at the school are led to work with Syrian refugees, in Turkey or in Lebanon.
Eman is the Program Director and was our primary contact. Trained as an architectural engineer, she has given her life to vocational ministry. She has served with Haggai Institute and previously with Campus Crusade. Youhana is a Sudanese brother with theological training and is the liaison between the school and the churches of Sudan. Samir and his wife are retired science teachers, now in their eighty’s, who are directors of the Tyrannus School. They are passionate about expanding Christ’s kingdom among the Sudanese. Behar and his wife Maha are directors of the Egyptian school. He is a businessman who has recused himself from the daily operations, and she is medical doctor. They too are devoted disciples of Christ giving their lives to kingdom work. We were impressed to see the strength of the church of Egypt and her commitment to help with gospel advancement across North Africa and the Middle East.
Along with Connie and me, Lee and his wife Terry, were our best friends in Seminary. Last summer when in the Chicago area I stopped for a few days and rekindled our friendship. The 30 years of distance felt like about 30 months. We picked up where we left off in 1986. During my time there Lee received an invitation to teach at Tyrannus and suggested that we should do it together. That off handed comment turned into an emerging dream over the course of the year. During our seminary days we mused about working together, but knew that we were too much alike to work effectively in the same context.
After planting a church in the greater Milwaukee area and leading it for 24 years, Lee turned his attention to the global church. With the inspiration of Stuart and Jill Briscoe, who were his mentors, that dream grew into an organization. Nine years ago Lee began a ministry called Brooklink. It’s a global ministry that equips church leaders for greater kingdom effectiveness.
Being with Lee for this joint ministry was like cold water to a weary soul (Prov 25:25). It’s truly remarkable how an old friendship can be so easily rekindled after many years of minimal connection. Our time together was a personal blessing.
Added Experiences (“tourism”)
A benefit of such travel opportunities is to see the sights and experience the culture of another part of the world. We had one day at the end of our week of teaching for a taste of Cairo. Here’s an overview of our experiences beyond the school:
- Sudanese Service – we accompanied the students to a suburb of Cairo where the Sudanese have settled. We were privileged to join them in a loud and lively expression of worship of King Jesus. It’s always inspiring to worship with nationals in their own manner. We brought greetings to the church, and as guests were invited to help serve The Lord’s Supper.
- Cave Church is a well known Coptic church in Cairo. After a heart wrenching drive through “garbage city” we arrived at the church where a Friday prayer service was underway. With seating for more than 10,000 there are 70,000 in weekly attendance. Here’s a recent article of interest.
- Kasr El-Dobara is the largest evangelical church in Egypt. We stopped there on Friday as regular services were underway. Churches hold services on Fridays and Sundays to accommodate those worshipers working on Sundays and
unable to be at worship. After passing sand bags, a police barricade, and metal detector, we entered to the singing of “He is Lord”. That was a moving moment recognizing that we share Christ in common with the hundreds of Egyptian believers gathered there. Learn more here.
- Tahrir Square forms the heart of Cairo and is the location of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. That event lasted for 18 days and resulted in the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak after 30 years.
- Museum of Egyptian Antiquities is on Tahrir Square and a treat for any history nerd! I loved it and our 2 hour walk-through was 2 days too short.
- The Pyramids are a must see when in the vicinity. Having taken a course in Egyptology years ago it was a treat to actually be there. As spectacular as the pyramids are, it was a footnote to seeing the church of Egypt in action.
In one of our final conversations Connie encouraged me to pursue such overseas teaching opportunities. Being in Egypt to engage in this strategic ministry felt like a partial fulfillment of that conversation. Thanks to the board and staff who made it possible for me to be absent for ten days. Thanks to all who stood with me in prayer. Your prayers made the ministry effective. Please pray for these heroic students and for the ministry of Tyrannus school as the leaders seek to expand its kingdom influence.
In the Service of King Jesus,
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