A Letter from Noah Park and Esther Shin, serving in Egypt
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In Presbyterian mission history in Egypt, the city of Tanta is remembered for an American Hospital established in 1897. I once met a lady who had served as a nurse in the 1960s. Her first question was, “Have you been to the hospital?” It is not hard to understand why early mission personnel founded it there. Tanta is one of the most populated areas in the middle of the Nile Delta. Between Alexandria and Cairo, Tanta has a major railroad station. It is also famous for the cotton industry.
Last May, we were invited to an ordination service in Tanta. Due to driving outside Cairo for a couple of hours, we were initially hesitant. Yet we decided to go for two purposes. We wanted to see both Rev. Mofreh’s ordination as a pastor and the historic American Hospital. He was a passionate student who graduated a year ago. When my teaching assistant was not available, I would look to Rev. Mofreh to translate for me. Once, he graciously commented that my Pauline Epistles class was the most powerful course he had taken. People also remember him as one of the three cousins studying together in the MDiv program.
As for Rev. Mofreh’s ministry, we need to understand the vision and mission of the Second Presbyterian Church. The congregation is a Christian center in the Tanta area, where the number of churches is far fewer than the number of Christians. So, the congregation serves four other fellowships in the villages of Bassion, Elshehaby, Tala, and Shabbath Amer. Rev. Mofreh serves the Tala fellowship on weekends as a mission pastor, while he works in Tanta during the weekdays as an associate pastor. Other fellowships are served by elders and volunteers.
According to Rev. Mofreh, many Christians in the Delta area live as nominal Christians without understanding the Christian faith, not to mention basic knowledge of the Bible. For example, Miriam, the mother of three children, had a fear of moving to Tala, where there were no churches. Once she found the Tala fellowship, she found confidence and encouragement from Christian sisters and brothers. Of course, her three children learn about faith and the Bible in Sunday school. With so many churches in our neighborhood, we forget to appreciate the meaning of Christian congregations. Yet, for many Egyptian sisters and brothers, having a Christian community is a privilege. At the center of this valuable ministry lies Rev. Mofreh, a missionary in his own country.
Before attending the ordination service, we stopped by the American Hospital and visited the children’s reading nook. In the summer of 2021, a great-niece of Dr. Anna Watson, one of the original two founders of the hospital, contacted us. She wanted to donate money to establish a children’s reading nook at the pediatric part in her great-aunt’s name. My teaching assistant, Silvy, and I helped her get connected with the hospital for the project and bought children’s books and toys. While serving as mission co-workers in the 21st century, meeting descendants of those first missionaries in the 19th century makes us pause to remember the century-long commitment of the PC(USA) in Egypt.
Lastly, we are glad to announce that ETSC elected a new president, Dr. Samuel Rozfy. With the sudden resignation of the president and the vice president together in early spring, the seminary was in a situation of uncertainty. Now with Dr. Samuel who has served for more than 30 years as a professor, ETSC is expected to return to normal and pay more attention to the MDiv program. He wrote, “The seminary stands as a testament of the global church’s vision and collaboration.” He understands the significance of ETSC in the Arab World. Please hold Dr. Samuel in your prayers.
It is our eighth year in Egypt, and the renewal process for another four-year term will begin in the fall. We thank God that we have come this far with each of you. We thank you for your continued prayers and support.
Esther Shin & Noah Park
Associates for Ecumenical Partnership in Egypt
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