In January I had the wonderful privilege of spending a few days with over 170 Evangelical Christians in Egypt. What fun people! What a sweet time of worship, teaching, and fellowship! We came together in Alexandria for a conference on the centrality of God in all of life.
The conference was hosted by two ministries: TSF, a Baptist publishing ministry, and El Soora, a Presbyterian ministry. Such inter-denominational cooperation in this cultural context is noteworthy. Most of the attendees came from Presbyterian, Baptist, and Brethren churches. The speakers were Sherif Atef, an Egyptian Presbyterian elder in his church and administrator/lecturer in the Alexandria School of Theology, as well as John Folmar and Josh Manley, American Baptist pastors of international churches in the United Arab Emirates.
The subject matter was hard-hitting. Session after session exposed and confronted our tendency toward self-centeredness in every area of life. We were exhorted to read God’s Word to know God, not just to get encouragement or direction for life. So-called ‘worship’ that pleases our preferences was rebuked, and we were admonished to worry more about honoring God in our worship. The believer’s involvement in the life of a local church, and the local church’s involvement in missions, were examined from a God-centered perspective. Perhaps the hardest topics that were dealt with were a God-centered view of our suffering and of God’s wrath toward sinners. A lively Q & A time showed that the listeners were genuinely wrestling with these truths and their practical application.
The conference exceeded everyone’s expectations. It was not held during a major school break. There were no celebrity speakers and the subject was challenging. The two host ministries expected maybe 60 attendees. In the end, over 170 attended and registration had to be closed because the conference facility could not accommodate more!
Those numbers may seem insignificant in the world’s eyes, but it felt to me that the Lord is stirring His church in Egypt. As the evangelical church in Egypt faces serious challenges from liberalism and pragmatism, there is a core group concerned about biblical doctrine and practice in the church, and that group is growing. They desperately need your prayers.
HeartCry’s financial partners should find particular joy in this last photo. This table is covered in Arabic translations of Paul Washer, Mark Dever and 9Marks, Charles Leiter, and R.C. Sproul. Thanks to HeartCry donors, we were able to fund the translation, and in most cases, the printing of all these excellent biblical resources for the Arab-speaking church. The sight of that table covered in good books was truly moving, and even better, people were purchasing the books. How encouraging to see folks carrying bags full of biblical resources, and watch them thumbing through Brother Paul’s “The Gospel Power and Message” or “Knowing the Living God.” Those books will go places we never will, and continue teaching truth long after we are gone. Praise the Lord!
Before his current role at HeartCry, Robert served several years in pastoral ministry, and a few years in Zambia, Africa as a missionary. He is also a veteran of the Marine Corps. Robert and his wife have been blessed with 3 children and 4 grandchildren. They live near Christiansburg, VA in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains, where he enjoys deer hunting and fly-fishing for trout.More By Robert Shepherd