Last month, Langham Scholar Rev Dr Andrea Zaki joined the South Sinai Governor in Egypt to lay the foundation stone for the first evangelical Church in the Red Sea city of Sharm El Sheikh.
Dr Zaki, President of the Protestant Churches in Egypt, said the church will seek a holistic mission by serving everyone equally.The church will provide clinics, a training centre and also a museum and library to share history about the Pharaonic civilisation.
Model of coexistence
Dr Zaki thanked the South Sinai Governor Major General Khaled Fouda in his speech at the ceremony:
“With his attendance today, the Major General affirms that Egypt is a model of coexistence that must be supported.”
Dr Zaki also commended Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for supporting the construction of churches everywhere as places of worship.
Sharm El Sheikh was formerly a popular tourist destination, but has been in decline over recent years due to security fears.
Reports say an IS affiliate centred in the Sinai Peninsula has repeatedly targeted Christians, in part over their support for the current Egyptian President.
This includes in November, when seven Christians were shot dead on a bus.
Dr Zaki is a prominent Christian leader in Egypt. Alongside his leadership of the Protestant Churches in Egypt, he is the President of the Coptic Evangelical Organisation for Social Services.
He is also the General Editor of Langham Literature’s Arabic Contemporary Commentary.
Dr Zaki was supported by Langham to pursue a PhD in Manchester in 2004. Speaking in 2008, he said that the PhD has “transformed” his life:
“It was a paradigm shift for me. First it gave me a deep appreciation of the importance of education and adapting a proper scientific approach to problems.
“Secondly it equipped me with the skills I need in my role now. By the grace of God I serve in a top position in my church and country. In that role I have to deal with intellectuals, with officials. I would not know how to do so without the experience and skills of the PhD.
“Thirdly it has empowered me in my job, as a professor, publisher, writer, speaker. I am invited both by the state and other organisations to give papers and presentations. These are on a range of social and political issues as well as theological ones.
“Being academically equipped gives my church as a whole respect, in a culture where religious leaders are often despised as people of slogans only. All my work as a leader in church, seminary, and society, has been transformed by the academic skills and challenges of the PhD work.”
Read the interview with Dr Zaki from 2008
Watch Dr Zaki talk about the Arabic Contemporary Commentary
Read about the Arabic Contemporary Commentary launch last year.