A Letter from Noah Park and Esther Shin, serving in Egypt
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I met Ramy two years ago when he was a student in my Biblical Theology class. He was a pharmacist and was not on the ordination track. Believe it or not, there are always several pharmacists and medical doctors studying at the seminary. I remember him asking questions in a shy but serious way after class. One day he came to my office, and we had a casual talk. I was curious about his motivation to take up theological studies. I discovered that he was an Egyptian Australian who has a house in Australia. My first reaction was, “What are you doing here?” He then shared his heartfelt faith journey with me.
Ramy was born into a large Egyptian Christian family with three sisters and two brothers. When he was fifteen, he had a religious experience that led him to be convinced of his salvation. He described it as “the opening of inner eyes.” Soon he became a passionate reader of the Bible and Christian books. When he shared his devotions with his teenage friends, he found that they were all inspired by his words. Eventually, he became a preacher when he was only eighteen years old. He preached to many congregations in different denominations. It is at this time that he became sure of his call to be God’s servant.
While doing ministry as a young, popular, twenty-six-year-old lay preacher, Ramy finished his college education when he was 21 years-old, became a pharmacist, and moved to Australia—a country that had more financial opportunities than Egypt could provide—when he was 26 years-old. There in Melbourne he ministered to Arabic-speaking congregation while working as a full-time pharmacist. He led numerous Bible study groups and preached at least twice a month. He was often invited as a guest at the Christian Arabic Satellite TV program on the “Al-Karma Channel” that was broadcast to the Middle East and worldwide.
With this background, Ramy came to the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC) for theological studies. He had attended a graduate certificate program in Australia, so he had an idea of the scope of Western theological education. He, however, remained humble, diligent, and passionate in his studies. First of all, he enjoys studying in his mother tongue. His cumulative GPA so far is 3.93 out of 4.0. This year he will finish his MAT (Master of Arts in Theological Studies) in Egypt. Next year he plans to focus on New Testament at a ThM (Master of Theology) program in Australia.
This spring semester, I will be teaching a course with him as my teaching assistant. Though he is now living in Australia due to the pandemic, I could not find anyone who translates better than he. This semester is also his last semester at ETSC. He is enrolled in my Pauline Theology class and Esther’s Christian Education class. Honestly speaking, we feel the burden of guiding him wisely since he has a great potential to be a Christian leader in the Arabic speaking world. At the same time, we are glad that he likes to learn from our experiences and knowledge as PC(USA) mission co-workers.
In a recent Zoom conversation, Ramy said to me, “Your job in Egypt was not easy, was it?” Without saying anything, we just laughed together. Yes, he understands who we are and what we do as mission co-workers. I see him as another mission co-worker who speaks Arabic, is familiar with Egyptian society, has a network of friends at congregations, and even supports his own ministry as a tent maker. He has the strong heartbeat of the gospel.
In a few days, Esther and I will return to Cairo after an unexpectedly long stay in South Korea. We are so grateful that we could stay near our families in a safe place during the pandemic. Even though the vaccine will be available in the near future, it is not available now, and we feel somewhat uncertain about our next steps. Yet, we decided to come home to Cairo before the beginning of the Spring semester.
Please pray for our smooth transition to Cairo during this time of uncertainty. We always thank you for your continued prayer and support. We pray that we can see you in person in the near future. May God keep you safe and healthy!
Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt
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