New Year greetings from ETSC
New Year greetings from all of us at ETSC. Following the January 1-10 Coptic Christmas holiday break, the January term began on January 12th. Dr. Atef Gendy offers reflections on 2014 and his hopes for the coming year in the first of a series of video clips that begins with this six minute portion for our partners.
Good news arrived on January 5th at ETSC in the form of a note from Marilyn Borst, Associate Director for Partnership Development at The Outreach Foundation. “I am delighted to report that through the efforts of Rob Weingartner, we have secured $10,000 to assist Saleem Ferah in his studies there.”
Saleem is a first year student from Bloudan, Syria. At the age of 41 he decided to answer God’s Call and give up his successful career as a judge and a lawyer in order to enroll fulltime at ETSC. He had previously served his local church leading High school and college youth meetings, singing in the Church choir and serving as an elder for the past eight years. When the pastor of the church left, he became their lay pastor.
Saleem wrote, “In many occasions, I was invited by friend pastors and church leaders to start my theological studies in the ordination track program. I wasn’t so sure of my call then. I thought I didn’t have to quit my successful career as a judge and a lawyer and that I could fulfill my vision through par-time ministry. As I watched the decline of the Syrian church and how it lost its identity and how the lives of people of the church are being challenged every day by surrounding ressures I found myself concerned in a direct way to have full–time ministry as a pastor.”
Seminary officials overcame many obstacles seeking the visa and air transport for Saleem in September.
In spite of their efforts, he began his classes three weeks late and worked very hard to catch up. Finally all seemed to be going well until Saleem received a phone call that his father had died suddenly of a heart attack. Saleem’s mournful wails echoed through the dormitory hallway as he grieved his loss. There was no possible way to return to Syria to console his mother. The students and faculty rallied around Saleem and held a funeral for his father that evening. The ETSC Community was at its best when they filled the chapel as they came together to comfort him in his loss with their prayers, hymns, preaching and presence.
Non-Egyptian student’s expenses are almost double that of resident Egyptian students because their needs include plane tickets, food and accommodations during the summer months, personal expenses such as stipends, clothing, transportation and international visas. Offering scholarship funds for a non-Egyptian student from our regular funds means that we will deprive two Egyptian students seeking ordination of their chance to pursue theological education for four years. This is not an option as the Synod of the Nile already has a shortage in the number of ordained pastors in Egypt.
The $10,000 gift is a blessing to the Seminary and the future of the Synod of Syria and Lebanon. We are grateful to a Presbyterian couple in the USA who entrusted a generous undesignated gift to The Outreach Foundation allowing Outreach to focus their resources on critical mission needs and opportunities. Rob Weingartner, Executive Director, decided to focus the donors’ most recent gift on scholarships in the Middle East, including support for Saleem. A large portion of a previous gift from this couple was used to fund scholarships for women at Forman Christian College in Pakistan. All of this is in keeping with Outreach’s priority of building the capacity of our Presbyterian global partners for their ministry and mission.
Tourism is on the rise in Egypt. Our 150th Anniversary guests last November were enthusiastic about their experiences in Cairo as well as the “add-on” tourism they experienced while in Egypt.
Two tours are being offered by the Presbyterian Church (USA) in cooperation with the Synod of the Nile in 2015. The dates are April 26–May 5 and October 11–20. Departure dates from the USA.
The schedule for both dates includes a mix of church ministries and leadership visits along with some of the great antiquities and museums of Egypt in both Cairo and Alexandria. Additional post-trips to Luxor and/or Aswan between can also be arranged.
Many of our partners continued to visit ETSC since 2011 on trips organized by The Outreach Foundation. Marilyn Borst of TOF will host a tour to their partner ministries in Egypt in early November that will include ministries and sites in Luxor as well as Cairo.