Presbyterians Travel Together on Mission Trip to Egypt

Witnessing Hope, Unity, and the Power of Prayer

Group photo including 7 from Evanston First (including Rev. Ray Hylton and Rev. Younan Shiba), and 3 from the Northbook The Village (including Rev. Dan McNerney and Dr. Chuck Guth).

Group photo including 7 from Evanston First (including Rev. Ray Hylton and Rev. Younan Shiba), and 3 from the Northbook The Village (including Rev. Dan McNerney and Dr. Chuck Guth).

Submitted by Caryl Weinberg, Evanston First

In November 2014, 7 of us from Evanston First, including our Senior Pastor Ray Hylton, visited Egypt. For 4 of us, this was our first trip to Egypt and our first mission trip. For all of us, it was a time of encounter with our partners in Egypt, but also an encounter with the living God who is active in this world in ways we could not imagine. Our group was part of a larger group of 17 people from six churches, including Northbrook The Village. The trip was organized by Rev. Dan McNerney of Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship (PFF) which works with congregations to establish indigenous churches among unreached people.

The primary incentive for this trip was to celebrate the 150th anniversary of The Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC), and its profound growth and impact in Egypt and throughout the Middle East. Presbyterians from across the globe came together for that same purpose. In addition, we wanted to explore with Rev. McNerney the projects of PFF and meet with our own Evanston First Mission Partners.

Some of the reoccurring key themes our group saw included: integrity of faith and daily life; the powerful witness of the local church as light in what has been dark times; the empowerment of youth through recognition, training, mentoring, inclusion in leadership; unity, hope and prayer.

“Going to Egypt opened my eyes to the faith of Presbyterian Christians in Egypt and their passion to pray for their city, nation, and the entire Arab world.”
~ Pastor Ray’s reflection on the theme of prayer

During the ETSC 150th anniversary worship service where leaders of various churches/denominations were present, Rev. McNerney said, speaking on the theme of unity, “In the chaos of the two revolutions, the Lord blessed the Christian community mightily in that there has never been a greater spirit of unity between Catholics, Protestants, and the Orthodox (Coptics).” Muslim leaders also attended this service, which highlights an even more surprising sense of unity between Muslims and Christians.

Rev. McNerney also commented on hope, “There has never been greater hope in Egypt. Many refugees are seeking security, solace, hope and faith and are finding it in Egypt – just as Joseph, Mary and Jesus did so long ago.” The troubled times of recent years has caused a crisis of faith for many Muslims. But because of the strong witness of Christ’s love and hope in the churches, many of these same people are becoming followers of Jesus.

Whether meeting with local church leaders, or partners working with university students, refugees, or media, we heard how prayer has been used by God to open the doors of ministries and break down the barriers that once seemed unbreakable. Consequently, those of us who traveled to Egypt have been meeting weekly to pray, and encouraging others to join us. May God hear our prayers, and use them to bring hope, unity, and so much more to Evanston, Chicago, the U.S. and the rest of the world.

This article was originally published on page 11 of the February 2015 Our Common Ministry, the presbytery’s newsletter. Download the complete issue.

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