Inside EMI web feature by MENA national intern / EMI MENA / Egypt
Translated from Arabic
130 YEARS NEW
An EMI project team designed a new ministry center for a vibrant and growing church in Port Said, Egypt. The Church of the Epiphany is part of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa. The first Egyptian Pastor of this congregation has seen a rapid increase in church membership and influence across the city. Lives are being transformed by Christ and their vision is to reach more people through expanded facilities. One of our local interns spoke with the Egyptian pastor about the ministry:
Tell us about Epiphany's history in Port Said and its role in society.
The church was established in 1884 in Port Said. It was started for foreigners and tourists who were coming through the Suez Canal as laborers or sailors on ships. They searched for a church to attend and the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany was built for their needs. After a while, this church was mainly for a small number of ex-pats living in Port Said. Thirteen years ago, an Indian pastor named Raj took responsibility for the church and started an Arabic ministry for locals. By God's grace, the church started to revive and grow in the Lord as we began to receive people.
Church of the Epiphany, Port Said, Egypt c.1900
Interior sketch of the apse by Wayne Bissky, 2014
Tell us about your background and how God called you into this ministry.
I was a pastor of a church in Suez for 11 years. When Pastor Raj was about to leave Port Said, he called me to say he felt confident leaving the priesthood responsibility of the church to me. He told this to the bishop and then he asked the congregation to invite me. I held a service here and it was very blessed because of the Lord. God arranged everything for me to be here and He assured this through the acceptance of the congregation and the deacons. So I became the first Egyptian Pastor to serve the Lord in this church in June 2011.
What have the past three years been like?
I really want to thank God as people have been multiplying during these years. More than three ministries have arisen and this has helped the congregation to grow. We now have 120 members and up to 400 people coming for ministry each week. It is very encouraging for me to think that God is here working among us. I see evidence of this in people's testimonies, their faith, and their reliance on God. It's also in their love for each other and their love for the ministry as they want to grow and spread the gospel. They want to be a blessing for everyone around them. All this is very encouraging to me.
Group photo at a recent event in Port Said
What were the challenges when you began ministering here?
The biggest challenge was how to make the whole church as one team. When I first came here there were a lot of people with varying points of view. But I put it on my heart to unify all the church into one heart and one mind to be able to help, serve, and love one another. I believe we are almost there, thanks to our Lord.
Why is this building project vital?
I believe that if we can increase the capacity of our site, it will serve more people. Our church building and the existing auditorium are very small, so there are not many places to meet. Every time we want to have a meeting or a gathering it is so crowded that the meetings distract each other. That's why we really need a quiet place for people – to help them understand the ministry clearly and quietly.
What kind of services will the new building give to you?
We hope to serve sick people through a clinic in this building. Then we will have some classroom space to help educate students and have separate places to welcome guests. There will be areas for people to have some quiet time and meditate on God's word. We also hope to host larger weddings, special events, conferences, and revival event days for the community.
The ministry center designed by EMI MENA is a multi-level 4,000 sq. mtr. building which will enable the Church of the Epiphany congregation to keep growing.
How far do you think EMI helped fulfilling this vision?
I want to thank God for them, as they have designed a wonderful building. I hope to use it to glorify the Lord's name and I'm praying that in the near future He will send us a helping hand from many people. Even if it's still a vision on paper, I trust the Lord that one day it will become true.