Sunday, December 7, 2008

Meet my Colleagues

Greetings again from Cairo:

I want to introduce you to the two persons who share the responsibilities for the programs in the master's program with me at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo. The first is professor Willem Jan deWit who has been send by his mission society in the Netherlands for a period of seven years. He has been teaching Greek and Latin in a school there and is also well versed in Hebrew, and in the area of Biblical studies. This will be a great help to the program here to have a scholar for a significant number of years who can make the adjustments he feels are best for that program. In the past we have had to rely on a visiting professor who would stay a year or a term, and had to make adjustments as these people resources became available. He will teach two classes each term, alternating with advanced Hebrew and advanced Greek, and Old Testament and New Testament exegesis. He is completing his Ph.D. dissertation on contemporary religious thought in "Post-Christian" Amsterdam.

His Dutch mission society supports his work here, and this is another example of how the seminary benefits from the support of institutions outside of Egypt. He is learning Arabic, and sometime in the future may be able to teach in the seminary's other programs which train church leaders for the Presbyterian Church of the Nile (also referred to as the Coptic Evangelical Church in Egypt). Those programs are all in Arabic. We share the apartment in Nasr City, which is about a 30 minute drive from the seminary (when there is no traffic).

During these last few years the seminary has been investigating how it can offer programs which aid the graduate-pastors in their work once they leave the seminary. ETSC has now contracted with an international group called "Development Associates International" (DAI), which operates a world wide ministry out of Colorado in the U.S.). This Christian evangelical group is more than ten years old and has been offering a three year program throughout the world in church adminstration and strategic planning, mainly through distance learning (CDs and internet contacts), as well as having two, one-week classes with the professors on campus. Upon completion of the assignments and a thesis, which is to be a strategic long range plan for the place where these leaders are serving, the seminary will award them a master's degree in church administration. Although the program is technically under my supervision, the work of the "co-ordinator" will be by an Egyptian who speaks both Arabic and English. Meet Fouad Shaker, a second year graduate student who has been hired to work two days a week to oversee this program.
Fouad is well qualified, having worked in programs as varied as youth ministry in the Presbyterian Church in Egypt and on archeological digs throughout the country. The dissertation he is beginning as part of his master's degree is going to be on the possibile influences of the Midianites (Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses) on Egyptian thought at the time of the Pharoahs. He will try to show some influences leading toward monotheism. His plan is to complete this by June of 2009.
In addition to the administrative duties with DAI, Fouad will be responsible for setting up small groups of the students (most of whom will be parish pastors), who will meet monthly to support one another in the program. He is an excellent resource to them as they deepen their knowledge on how to minister to their people. If you want to learn more about DAI and the program they are offering with ETSC and at other locations through the world, you can visit their web site at:
Blessings in this Advent season. Will try to write again in about two week. In Christ, Roger R.
By the way, let me remind you that the work I have been doing here is supported by the Global Missions Division of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. (We would appreciate contributions to help finance my work - Go to the ELCA web site for more information). We are agressively recruiting someone to take my place, to begin work in August of next year (2009). If you know of someone who might be interested, go to the ELCA web site and to Global Missions service oppprtunities. Applications are being sought until March, 2009. Thank you

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