In the October 8th edition of 1st This Week, Tim Norton provided an update on our upcoming Egypt trip here. As Tim outlined, the discernment team of Kendra Norton, Rick Wesley, and Katherine Atala has been hard at work to prepare Tim and me for a trip to Egypt November 1-12 to explore, on behalf of the church, a possible sister-church relationship with an Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Zagazig, Egypt. Tim asked me to share with you why we are traveling to Egypt and why I have felt called to travel.
The Outreach Foundation, one of the mission partners for our denomination (ECO), holds the mission statement of “Connecting Presbyterians to build the church’s capacity to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.” In 2015, the Outreach Foundation connected ECO with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (“EPCE”) in Egypt since we both are particularly focused on church planting and church revitalization. In Egypt, a unique window of government-approved access to land is available to the EPCE for churches and ECO’s partnership is one way to provide the financial and relational resources needed to ensure these churches stay open and engaged in mission. Three years into the partnership between denominations and our interest in this Egypt Initiative, First Presbyterian Church has been invited to take the next step and meet with a local congregation in Zagazig, just north of Cairo.
While I do not have a specific connection to Egypt or the Middle East, there are three specific reasons why I have enthusiastically joined the long-term Egypt discernment and travel team:
- We are called to go: As Christians, we are called to go and make disciples of all nations. First Presbyterian Church has a rich history of developing long-term, international partnerships. Our church has been praying for an opportunity to establish another international mission partner for over a decade. Egypt is the heart of Christianity in the Middle East and The Outreach Foundation has provided us an opportunity that we feel called to explore.
- Learn, Share, and Discern: The daily challenges of Christians in Egypt are very different than what we experience day to day in Winston-Salem. We have a unique opportunity to learn about the Arabic culture in Egypt and the Zagazig church; and to share and discern our findings with each of you. I spent the first decade of my professional career in the transaction business – investing in, acquiring, and managing companies. Currently, I work in a relationship based wealth management business. Through these two professional experiences, I believe the Lord has prepared me to assist in establishing a meaningful and eternally impactful partnership.
- Chains are off: Each day there are worldly burdens I carry through my attachment to worldly “responsibilities”. I have felt most free on domestic and international mission trips. In these situations, these worldly responsibilities were removed, which freed me to do the work the Lord called me to do – build relationships and share the gospel.
I am dedicated to seeking a long-term partnership with a sister-church in the Middle East and look forward to joining each of you in this journey. In this effort, the question that burns inside me is: How can we as a church and community learn and grow from our Egyptians brothers and sisters in Christ?
In advance of our trip November 1-12, our discernment team will provide a prayer guide to the congregation. We invite you to join us in praying for this initial trip and discerning this long-term partnership opportunity.
Matthew Hornaday, Covenant Partner