Thank you for praying with us for Rania Hendy from Egypt.
With nearly 103 million people, Egypt is the most populous Arab country and the third most populous nation in Africa, after Nigeria and Ethiopia. Approximately 90% of Egyptians are Muslims (mostly Sunni) and 10% are Christians (mostly Coptic), making Egypt the country with the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. Among Egyptian Christians, around 300 thousand are Protestants (mostly Evangelical). Despite their sizeable presence and ancient heritage traceable to Saint Mark, the Church in Egypt continues to face discrimination, hostility, and sometimes violence. Join us in praying for our Lord to bless our Egyptian sisters and brothers, that they may be upheld in Christ’s love and empowered by his Spirit to shine as lights throughout their land.
Rania is pursuing a PhD in Biblical Studies (Old Testament) at Asbury Theological Seminary in the US. Through her research, Rania seeks to spur faithful engagement with the Old Testament across the Middle East. Her dissertation examines how the Prophet Isaiah used poetic language to convey God’s message of hope and healing to a traumatized people in exile. Rania’s work will guide the Church in proclaiming the gospel in creative ways that ignite longing for life in Christ.
Prior to her studies, Rania taught Old Testament as an adjunct professor at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (a client of the Vital SustainAbility Initiative) and the Coptic Catholic Seminary. Rania and her husband Sameh have a son, Andy, who is attending college in the US.
Rania shares the following message:
I am Rania Hendy from Egypt. First, let me take the chance to express my deep gratitude for your generosity and support, without which I would not be able to pursue my calling.
Currently, I am pursuing a PhD in Biblical Studies, with a concentration in Old Testament Studies, at Asbury Theological Seminary. My main interest is the study of Semitic languages, Hebrew poetry, and the prophets.
Over the course of my studies, my interest has grown in the study of the OT prophets and the intricate poetic language they employed to communicate God’s message to their people. In order to better understand their message and the effects of such poetic language on their audiences, I approach the poetic literature using contemporary literary theories and methods.
In particular, I pay attention to poetic imagination and how it envisions modes of being and possibilities beyond our finite perspectives. My dissertation will show how the poetic language in Isaiah 40-55 serves as a therapeutic response to the traumatized Zion of the Book of Lamentation, and how it helped shape Zion’s identity and self-understanding.
I hope that my research will not only contribute to a better understanding of biblical poetry in the field of Old Testament studies, but also help pastors and preachers communicate the same everlasting message in innovative and imaginative forms. This, in turn, will help to energize the faith of our people, since monotonous messages have led to numbness in many cases.
In addition, given the relative neglect of the Old Testament in Middle Eastern congregations, my vision as an Old Testament professor is to help future pastors and lay leaders to recognize the riches and resources within the Old Testament. I want to help the Church reach out to those who have difficulties with the Old Testament and the God it portrays. I hope to help them comprehend how the heart of the God of the Old Testament is revealed, in the fullest sense, in Jesus Christ.
I also hope to advance the quality of Biblical scholarship in the wider Arab world by publishing contextualized academic materials. I will present these materials from the contexts and experiences of the marginalized, and not from the perspective of those espousing inherited and imported interpretations. These materials will target seminary faculty and students while also supporting the spiritual and intellectual formation of church leaders.
Another important goal of mine, besides being a faithful and qualified scholar, is to be an inspiring model for women here in Egypt. I am convinced that both the Church and society urgently need to see how women can overcome the restrictions that hold us back, and how we can make significant contributions to society in general and to the work of the Gospel in particular.
(1) I thank God for enabling me to finish my coursework successfully. Now, I am preparing for my comprehensive exams, which I will be writing in February. Kindly pray for an extra measure of grace for me to study very well the expansive material required.
(2) Unfortunately, my husband couldn’t leave Egypt and come with me due to his job obligations. I owe this godly husband so much. Without his support and sacrificial love, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I would like to ask for a special prayer for him as he stays by himself back home.