All Saints’ Cathedral (Egyptian, Sudanese and English-speaking Congregations) is hosting a service of celebration with international leader and speaker, Dr Lindsay Brown, who will give us a round the world survey of the encouragements and challenges facing the global church speaking from Habakkuk 2.14 and Revelation 7.9.
Dr Brown was converted to Christ as a teenager and studied European history in Oxford for 3 years, where he was President of the Christian Union. He has been involved in student ministry with IFES since 1981 and is International Director of the Lausanne Movement and is passionate about raising up a new generation of students to lead the Church into the future and works with student leaders from across Europe.
Edward Michael Bankes Green is a British Oxford theologian, Anglican Priest, Christian apologist and author of more than 50 books.
Green has served in many different ministry roles as a gifted evangelist and teacher. Whether in local churches or theological schools, he has been a passionate advocate for ‘every member ministry.’ Dr Green has lectured and preached worldwide and has authored many books on a variety of subjects. Some of his most well-known works are on evangelism in the Book of Acts, one of which has been translated into Arabic– Thirty Years That Changed the World-The Book of Acts For Today.
Green is married to Rosemary and they have four adult children, Sarah, Jenny, Tim and Jonathan. Canon Michael will be giving some remarks before Dr Lindsay Brown speaks as both men are burdened with the equipping Christian leaders for ministry and have often served together in many international settings.
At 7 pm, the service will be in both Arabic and English. All are welcome! All Saints’ Cathedral is the ‘mother church’ of the Anglican / Episcopal Diocese of Egypt led by Archbishop Mouneer Hanna Anis. At 10 am, the service will be held in English with mainly Canon Michael Green
First performance for Osiris Strings Orchestra at the Cathedral hall on 18th of March.
Today we are gathered to consecrate the Very Rev Dr Samy Fawzy as a new bishop for North Africa within the Anglican/Episcopal Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa. He succeeds Bishop Bill Musk, who retired last year.I am grateful to have this opportunity to give my thanks and appreciation to Bishop Bill for all of his hard work and sacrifice through his years of service in North Africa.
The word consecration means to devote a person for service of the Lord. Today we consecrate Samy to be a bishop and shepherd for the ministers of the Church of North Africa, and at the same time, a bishop in the universal Church of God. Today, Bishop-elect Samy will pray these words, “I am not for myself but for You, O Lord” because he will be consecrated for the Lord’s service.
Some people might ask, “Why did I choose Dean Samy to be a Bishop?”
In response, I’d like to make clear that for many years, it has been put on my heart to prepare leaders and shepherds from the new generation of believers to carry the responsibility of leadership in the Church.
Truly the Church needs trustworthy shepherds who love the Lord with all their hearts and who will exert every effort to guide the people of God through spiritual teaching and encouragement to live out the message of Christ… the message of love. I have seen this in Dean Samy. Heloves the Lord and is humble. His desire to serve the Lord was evident when he put aside his career as an engineer after graduating from the School of Engineering, Cairo University in 1985. He was led to study at the School of Theology at the University of Wales and Birmingham in the United Kingdom, continuing until he completed his Doctorate Degree in Theology. He returned to Egypt to serve in the church of Alexandria. He is distinguished in his pastoral care for his congregation, including for the wounded, the oppressed and marginalized. He grew the church in Alexandria. This has encouraged me to choose him as Dean ofSt. Mark’sCathedral in Alexandria and Dean of the Anglican/Episcopal School of Theology. Samy has used all of his gifts and talents in the service of Christ and His Church. He has done so with joy and without hesitation. He became my real partner in vision and service. Jesus Christ taught us that those who invest their gifts and talents for the Kingdom of God will be given even greater responsibility. For this reason, we have chosen Dean Samy to be Bishop for North Africa, making him the first Egyptian Bishop in North Africa.
Few days ago, I have prayed that God would give me a message for Bishop Samy today, as well as for myself and for all ministers of the Church. The Spirit has guided me to focus my meditation todayon Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, because the main ministry of the bishop is shepherding.
If we desire to be trustworthy shepherds of God’s people, we must fix our eyes upon the Good Shepherd, who has been our model in His life and His care, in order to fulfill our responsibility towards the Church, of Christ.
Jesus Christ has given us a clear description of the Good Shepherd, which we read in the Gospel of John:
Firstly, the Good Shepherd knows His sheep and His sheep know His voice.Jesus said, “The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (John 10:3, NIV). This is made possible only after the Shepherd has spent a long time with those in his care, guiding them to green pastures and to sources of water, giving them medicine when they fall sick, and carrying them on his shoulders when they grow tired. It is true that we can’t shepherd well the Flock of God unless we spend good time in their midst.
There’s no doubt that we, as Bishops, receive many invitations from around the world to visit other churches and dioceses. These attractive offers to travel abroad and visit new churches and new places can be tempting. It can be hard to turn these offers down, but travel separates us from those in our care and prevents us from being able to provide for their needs. Thiscan weaken the church and lead to deeper problems. When the Shepherd is not present, those in his care scatter, as is written “I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.”(Matthew 26:31, NIV). This happened in a neighboring country, wherethe church was facingtribal conflict. The Diocesan Bishop happened to be traveling during this situation, and his absence during the conflict resulted in thescattering of his congregations and the loss of his diocesan office.
It is our first responsibility as servants of the Lord is to be among the flock.
Secondly, the Good Shepherd leads his flock.Jesus said when describing the good shepherd, “When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”(John 10:4, NIV)Bywalking in front of His sheep, the shepherd does three things:
- One,he determines the vision and the goals that work for the flock. He knows the way to proceed ahead of those in His care.The Shepherd mustask for the vision and wisdom from God as promised in Psalm 32:8 (NIV), “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
- Two;by walking in front of the flock, the shepherd sets an example for all who follow him. St. Paul said to his disciple Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12, NIV). We need to be a role model and example, hence we are in need of the rich grace of God to help us because of our weakness as humans and supports us when we fail to live up to this model.
- Three;by going in front of the flock, the shepherd protects the sheep from danger. He faces the difficulties before his flock.
Thirdly, the Good Shepherd sacrifices himself for the sheep.
Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.” (John 10:11-12, NIV). The Shepherd must always remember what Jesus has done to save us from death which is the wage of our sin. He sacrificed himself upon the cross to be our ransom, and this puts on us the responsibility as Shepherds to give it our best effort to save sinners from eternal death. Jesus said “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15: 13, NIV)
The Good Shepherd protects his sheep from false teaching and promotes correct teaching, as was given to us by our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ the Lord, for example, when he rejected the teaching of the Pharisees and the false Jewish teachers.“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” (Matthew 23:27, NIV).One of the examples which we know well here in Egypt is St. Athanasius;who stood firm against the Arian heresy which was supported by the emperor at that time. However, Athanasius stood against the heresy, to the point that he was called contra mundum.
In this day and age, we find that many leaders find it difficult to oppose false teaching, for truth has become relative, and it’s no longer appropriate to speak against false teaching, as it contradicts with the trends of inclusiveness, which welcomes any and all views, even those which go against the Bible.
That’s why we need to remember that the Bishop makes vows in front of God to guard the faith so he needs to fulfil this responsibility without any compromise or hesitation.
Fourthly, the Good Shepherd leads His flock towards an abundant life.
Jesus Christ said (John 10:10, NIV) “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”.No doubt that the true shepherd is the one who leads his people towards the abundant life. We can find this life when we meet Jesus Christ and accept Him in our lives. He said: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’ (John 14: 6, NIV). This means that the shepherd should lead his people to Christ and help them to become spiritually mature disciples and faithful in their life and ministry.
Fifthly, the Good Shepherd searches for His sheep.
Jesus said in the parable of the lost sheep “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4, NIV). The good shepherd should look for his lost sheep. Those who went astray in the worries of this world, when he found them, he should share the good news of Jesus Christ with them and give them the hope they had lost. We sometimes forget as we become busy in administration that we as shepherds have the responsibility to give a message of hope to the broken world around us. Hope helps us to persevere through all the difficulties we face and to look for the good.
St Clement of Alexandria wrote: “If you don’t have hope, you would not find what is beyond your hopes”. He also said “Christ transformed all our sunsets in our lives into dawns.” Our Middle Eastern people are in desperate need for, hope. This is why we should bring hope to them all the time.
My beloved Samy, I believe that today that you would receive special grace from the Lord. This grace will accompany you on your journey as a bishop. With this grace, you can shepherd the flock of Christ that is entrusted to you.
Finally, I would like to share with you one of the dear gifts that was given to me at the time of my consecration. I put this in front of my eyes every day. It is a quote from St Augustine of Hippo which was written for me by one of the nuns and the quote is: “For you I am a bishop but with you I am a Christian. The first is an office accepted, the second is a gift received. One is danger, the other is safety. If I am happier to be redeemed with you than to be placed over you, then I shall, as the Lord commanded, be more fully your servant.”
St Augustine sees here a potential danger linked to the office of a bishop if the people around us glorify the bishop to a degree that he becomes proud. We all need to keep the words of St Augustine in front of our eyes so that we do not forget that we, by the end of the day, are servants for the flock of Christ. I pray from my heart that;“The Lord bless youand keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”(Numbers 6:24-26, NIV)
In a moving ceremony at All Saints Cathedral, Cairo on February 27, 2017, Archbishop Mouneer Hanna Anis consecrated his ‘dear brother’ Rev. Samy Fawzy as the first Arab area bishop for North Africa.
Bishop Fawzy succeeds Bishop Bill Musk, who presided over the diocese encompassing Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya since 2008. Bishop Musk was honored and thanked for his time of service, and participated in Fawzy’s consecration.
Joining also to lay hands on the new bishop was Bishop Grant LeMarquand of the Horn of Africa and Bishop Michael Lewis of Cyprus and the Gulf
Also present were Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America, Archbishop Rennis Ponniah of Singapore, and other Anglican representatives from around the world.
Bishop Lewis conveyed the congratulations of Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, welcoming Bishop Fawzy into the fellowship of Anglican servant leadership.
Archbishop Welby also praised the Diocese of Egypt for its role as a bridge between Muslims and Christians as well as among the various Christian denominations.
He also issued a firm plea to the government of Egypt to continue recognizing the Anglican Church as an independent denomination, in light of ongoing legal disputes that jeopardize this status.
Archbishop Beach also welcomed Bishop Fawzy, greeting him in the name of GAFCON, and celebrating their partnership in the gospel while assuring of his continued prayers.
Archbishop Ponniah encouraged Bishop Fawzy that in the ‘boat’ of Christian service, it is the Lord Jesus who brings it safely to shore. He also welcomed him into the Global South effort that is catching many fish for the Kingdom of God, celebrating the recent accomplishments in Egypt of a new conference center and administrative buildings for the Alexandria School of Theology.
Congratulations were also offered by Fr. Bishoy Helmy, representing Pope Tawadros of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Rev. Rifat Fehmy, representing Rev. Andrea Zaki of the Protestant Churches of Egypt, and Bishop Kyrillos William of Asyut, representing Patriarch Ibrahim Ishak of the Coptic Catholic Church.
Fr. Helmy in particular praised the appointment of Bishop Fawzy, recognizing him as one with humility, an ecumenical spirit, and dependence upon the Word of God.
Bishop Fawzy graduated from the Faculty of Engineering at Cairo University in 1985, but set aside his career to pursue Christian ministry. Later he obtained a Doctorate in Theology from the University of Wales, and upon returning to Egypt was ordained to serve the church in Alexandria, where he was appointed dean in 2013.
Archbishop Anis remarked Bishop Fawzy was distinguished in his pastoral care, especially “among the wounded, oppressed, and marginalized. He shared a quote which was dear to him at his own consecration as bishop, written by St. Augustine of Hippo, also from North Africa.
“For you, I am a bishop. But with you, I am a Christian. The first is an office accepted; the second is a gift received. One is danger; the other is safety. If I am happier to be redeemed with you, than to be placed over you, then I shall as the Lord commanded, be more fully your servant.”
Archbishop Anis told Bishop Fawzy he reviews this quote each day, and encouraged him to do the same.
“Truly the church needs trustworthy shepherds who love the Lord with all their hearts, and who will exert every effort to guide the people of God to live out the message of Christ, the message of love,” said Archbishop Anis.
“I have seen this in Dean Samy.”
The different Anglican churches across the diocese sent their potential lay minsters to attend a special training. The conference aimed to increase the awareness of the Anglican Church and how to be involved in its ministry. The Anglican Church in Egypt has a vision of serving the whole society and witnessing to Christ. The attendees were able to grasp the vision in order to take role in this vision with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Visiting Egypt for the 500th anniversary of the European Reformation, Chris Wright aptly taught on Biblical preaching. And in his public lecture to nearly 300 people on January 26, he focused on the centrality of the Bible for all reformation.
“Ecclesia semper reformanda,” Wright said. “The church must be continually under reformation, renewed by the Bible.”
Bishop Mouneer Hanna Anis of Egypt invited Wright to All Saint’s Cathedral in Cairo to train Anglican clergy how to minister the Word of God in their churches. In a series of four presentations he emphasized godly preaching must be both Biblically faithful and culturally relevant.
Wright is the international ministries director of the Langham Partnership, dedicated to educating pastors toward theological maturity. The ministry began under John Stott, rector of All Souls Church at Langham Place. Wright has a PhD in Old Testament ethics from Cambridge University, and encouraged the clergy not to neglect this great treasure.
“The Old Testament was the Bible of Jesus,” he said. “And if we neglect it we deprive our congregations of a great deal of depth about who Jesus is.”
Wright is the author of more than 15 books, and his Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament is one of ten that have been translated into Arabic.
And in his translated public lecture, he expounded on how Ezra and Nehemiah set a reformation pattern later followed by Luther, Calvin, and other Protestant pioneers.
Expounding on Nehemiah 8-10, Wright outlined four essential movements. The first focuses on the ears, as the Word of God is read and listened to. As Ezra and Nehemiah brought together the whole people, so did Luther make the Bible accessible for the masses. And not just the masses, but political and spiritual leaders also come under its authority.
The second movement focuses on the mind, as the Word of God is translated and taught. As Ezra and Nehemiah helped now-Aramaic speaking Jews understand the original Hebrew, so also Luther translated the New Testament from Greek into the German vernacular. Both also ensured that those they instructed were equipped to teach others.
The third movement focuses on the heart, as the Word of God produces weeping and rejoicing. Ezra and Nehemiah led the people into an understanding first of their sinfulness before God, but also in realization he is their gracious redeemer. Similarly did Luther guide Germans in knowledge of judgment and grace, and provided also a wealth of hymns and liturgy for communal response in praise.
The fourth movement focuses on the hands, as the Word of God prompts finding and doing. Ezra, Nehemiah, and Luther were purposeful students of the scripture, engaging it far beyond the duty of ritual. And as Luther would rediscover that though salvation is through faith alone, he and the Old Testament reformers insisted it is a faith that never stays alone. True faith produces the fruit of transformation as God’s commands are put into practice.
These movements are an essential part of Biblical preaching, as Wright made clear in his seminar lectures as well. In addition to the Anglican Alexandria School of Theology, Bishop Mouneer Anis invited also the Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical seminaries to participate. Though expecting around 60 people, 135 attended, including the Archbishop of Sudan and three additional Sudanese bishops.
To all he gave the same message, as relevant in Europe 500 years ago as it is today.
“As heirs of the Reformation,” said Wright, “we must search the scriptures together and respond with all sincerity and joy.”
[A prayer letter from Johann and Louise Vanderbijl out of Gambella, Ethiopia]
I was trying to explain the difference between ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ to my English students the other day. “Simple,” I said, “is something that is easy to explain and easy to understand because there is usually only one thing to think about. Complex, on the other hand, is something that takes a long time to explain because there are so many different things to keep in your head at the same time…things that are often strange or unknown to the person you are trying to talk to which makes it harder for them to understand.”
Life in Gambella is not simple.
We returned in January filled with new and exciting ideas about what we were going to do with our students only to have our very first week turned upside down by deadly ethnic clashes. Nothing has been the same ever since. We now teach two sets of classes in two different areas of Gambela, as neither ethnic group can meet with the other at present. Our Anglican brethren on both sides long for fellowship with each other and will often pray for each other, ask about each other, and send greetings to each other through us. They have responded negatively to other denominations in town that are calling for total segregation.
It is both painful and pleasing to see this…pleasing in that they have transcended traditional tribal barriers and painful in that they are being forced to stay apart because some on both sides do not share that unique oneness in Jesus. It is refreshing to see that our brethren here are not slow to see the spiritual forces of darkness behind the killing and the hatred – not flesh and blood, but principalities and powers in the heavenly places – and so they turn as one united body together against a common spiritual enemy and fight their battles on their knees, fasting and praying for peace.
At the same time, city water has been very scarce and the power has been sporadic. Some of our brethren in outer lying areas do not have food as all the roads were closed during the unrest. And it is hot…very hot. Temperatures are now often between 45 and 55 degrees Celsius with an increasing humidity, even at night. Our students tell us they can’t sleep…we know, because we can’t either. When the power goes off and we don’t have fans going, it feels like we are living in an oven.
Add now this: my dear old heart that just doesn’t seem to be able to handle this extreme environment anymore. I had a really bad episode of Atrial Fibrillation in Addis in December last year just before we went to South Africa. While in South Africa I heard that I ought to have a heart ablation, a procedure in which the surgeon cauterizes the areas where the impulses enter the atrium and cause the heart to beat very fast and irregularly. I had hoped to put this off until July, but the other morning I woke up with A-Fib in spite of the high doses of meds that I am on to prevent this from happening. See? This is so long and difficult to explain! It is complex – not the sort of thing I would have planned for us at this time.
The long and the short of it all is that we are closing the College a week early to go to South Africa so that my ticker can get a service…of course the pacemaker and other problems complicate things, but it just wouldn’t be my life if it was simple, would it?
We are thinking about changing the dates of our current semesters so that the College will be functional only during the less extremely hot seasons…the rest of the time…well, we will have to figure that out as we go along. We remain committed to the Lord’s work and the people here in Gambela…we just have to figure out creative ways to keep me healthy!
We have been moving at quite a pace with our dear students as we have had to cram our lessons into shorter hours because we are now dividing everything into two. We have also had to make up for the lost week in the past two days and have given them projects and assignments to do for next week. After that, they all go to their respective field education areas where they will be engaging in a research project as well as teaching Bible Stories chronologically. They are all so very, very smart and we are very, very proud of each one. So many strikes against them from the start and so many strikes against them as they simply try to live here, but they are troupers and keep on keeping on for Jesus!
We will send out an update once I have had the procedure done.
We love you all and are so blessed to have you as partners…we are not alone…the Father is with us, and you all are with us too. We are encouraged.
Many blessings and tons of love.
Johann and Louise
Jesus, the Prince of Peace
The phone rang. I looked at it apprehensively. The screen read, “Peter from Tongo.”
“Are you fine?”, Peter asked.
“Yes, we are fine,” I answered.
“You are all fine?” He sounded surprised. “There is war in Gambella!” read on
After the dismantling of the apartheid system in South Africa, many previously segregated Bible Colleges and Universities had to rethink the manner in which they taught theology. No longer could they assume that every student had had equal educational opportunities or that they all learned in the same way. This realisation gave birth to a lot of research, creative thought, and bold experimentation as some of the best educators got together to find a solution to the emerging problem. For this reason, I was very interested to chat with a number of educators in South Africa and also in securing some of the articles and books written by Africans on the subject of oral versus literate preference styles of learning.
All of our students in Gambella could be considered higher on the oral scale than on the literate scale. This has a tremendous impact on how St Frumentius proceeds…how we structure the curriculum and how we teach…not that we wish to “dumb down” the material, but rather come up with new and creative ways of communicating in a way that is compatible with oral preference learners and that is culturally relevant. In the past, oral preference learners have had to struggle through literate preference methods only to find that they are no longer able to communicate clearly to their oral preference parishioners once they return to their respective places of ministry.
So the second semester of our first year may prove be one of the most interesting periods in our history as a College as we will be laying a foundation for future students using some of the best research on oral preference learners by Africans in Africa. Everyone in the Anglican Church in Ethiopia will be involved at some level as we will seek to learn more about what our students will need in order to be effective leaders in their respective communities.
On a more personal level, a routine cardiac check-up revealed that I need a surgical procedure known as an ablation. This procedure will correct a worsening condition called Atrial Fibrillation, or A-Fib for short. The choice is between this procedure or taking two meds that have some unpleasant side-effects. The cardiologist wanted me to have it done immediately as I am apparently a high stroke risk right now, but after much thought and prayer, we have decided to continue on the meds until 18 July when I will have the ablation done in Cape Town, South Africa. This will allow me to complete the second semester and to adequately prepare for the next year.
We will be going to the US in March/April for the New Wineskins Conference in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. Both Louise and I will be co-leading workshops with Bishop Grant and Dr Wendy LeMarquand. Prior to the Conference, we will be stopping in Greenville (probably Easter Weekend) and Charleston SC (the first weekend in April). We hope to be able to see as many of our ministry partners as possible during this time.
Please pray for us as we start the second semester next week. Pray for Bishop Grant and Dr Wendy as they continue to provide wise guidance for us all, for Louise as she continues to bring our library up to snuff, for Karen and Jeremiah as they teach, for Rosemary as she helps us all with the administration of the Area, for Roger and Lynn as they lead the congregation in Addis, and for all our priests, deacons, lay-leaders, and Mother’s Union leaders. Pray too for the visit from ACTEA (Association For Christian Theological Education in Africa) in February.
We appreciate you more than we can say…thank you for staying the course with us and for fighting the good fight by our side.
Johann and Louise