For the rest of January, we are returning to our Middle East and North Africa prayer series, featuring scholars from Egypt. This week, please intercede with us for Dr. Tharwat Wahba.
A cradle of civilization, Egypt traces its history to the sixth millennium before Christ. Its rich and distinctive cultural heritage manifests centuries of interchange with the Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, and Nubian empires. Once an influential Christian center, Egypt has long been a Muslim-majority nation, following its Islamization in the seventh century. Today, 90% of Egypt’s 102 million people adhere to Islam (mostly Sunni), the official religion, while 10% follow Christianity (mostly Coptic).
Tharwat is Dean for Serving Church and Society and Professor of Missions at Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, a partner school of the Vital SustainAbility Initiative. For nine years, he has also served as Chair of the Pastoral and Outreach Ministries Council in the Presbyterian Church of Egypt (Synod
of the Nile). Tharwat earned his PhD from the London School of Theology. His dissertation traced the history of missions in Egypt and Sudan, in relation to the American Presbyterian Mission.
ScholarLeaders sponsored Tharwat’s doctoral studies and work on an Arabic translation of his book, The Practice of Mission in Egypt. Tharwat also serves on the editorial board of the InSights Journal for Global Theological Education. Check out Tharwat’s 2012 InSights Perspective, Hope for the Church in Egypt. Tharwat and his wife Ibtesam have a daughter and two sons.
Tharwat shares the following message:
Greetings from Cairo in the name of our Lord. I send my love and greetings to all in the beloved ScholarLeaders family.
In the last two years, life has been completely different in the world, including in Egypt, for the Egyptian Church, and at Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC). Normal life became a dream, and there were many disasters that affected millions of people. Our world is looking for healing and peace.
Egypt faced the pandemic with many restrictions, including closing schools, shopping centers, worship places, and many other areas of life. This happened in the first few months, but life later returned to normal when the economy couldn’t afford more shutdowns.
The Church in Egypt
The pandemic affected church life in many ways. We lost many leaders, including pastors, elders, spiritual leaders, and young people. Many churches went through times of loss and sadness.
Amid all this, we have also found many blessings of growth and flourishing. Led by ETSC graduates, the Presbyterian Church of Egypt is planting 143 churches in different parts of the country. There are five mission fields, including Iraq, South Sudan, and Turkey, where the Church is actively sending long-term missionaries.
There is also much church building and reconstruction taking place in Egypt these days. The government has been open in giving churches the right to build and renovate, unlike in previous years. We don’t know how long this window will be open, so that is why churches are taking serious steps now.
Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC)
As for the seminary, we praise God for a fruitful year. This past September, ETSC celebrated the graduation of its 150th class. The first graduates were two brothers from one program in 1871. In 2021, we celebrated the graduation of 88 students from eight programs. These programs equipped graduates to serve the Lord as pastors, lay leaders, and media professionals. It was a real joy to see so many graduates, despite the unusual year. God is working, regardless of the challenges.
It has also been very encouraging for ETSC to see a great number of young people who are interested in theological education. This academic year, we admitted 153 new students in different programs. Because most of our teaching is online, this has opened the door for new students from different parts of the world to join ETSC.
Currently, I have new responsibilities at ETSC as the Dean of Serving Church and Society. There are many opportunities for our seminary to serve the Church through research, media, worship, and alumni. The seminary is deeply connected to the Church and its ministries in many ways.
A few months ago, I finished nine years of ministry as Chair of the Pastoral and Outreach Ministries Council in the Presbyterian Church of Egypt. They were years of great blessing in evangelism, church planting, church revitalization, sending missionaries, and building partnerships between churches. God blessed the Church with many resources to grow His Kingdom in Egypt and the Middle East.
Although we have so many blessings from God, we also have many challenges that need your prayers.
(1) Please pray for the academic year.
(2) Pray for God’s protection upon the ETSC family.
(3) Pray for God’s healing for those who are suffering from sickness.
(4) Pray for new programs at ETSC, including the DMin and PhD programs.
(5) Praise God for the ministry of Dr. Atef Gendi, and pray for Dr. Hani Hanna, the new President of ETSC.
(6) Pray for ETSC friends and partners to be able to resume visits to Egypt soon.
(7) Pray for my family and their wellbeing.
Finally, I pray and hope that our work in God’s vineyard will be fruitful and bring glory to God alone, as He is the one who deserves power, honor, and glory. Amen.