Some 525 Pastors and Leaders attended this year’s conference from across the nation of Egypt. The theme of this year’s Conference was Isaiah 19 – A bigger vision for the Middle East. Pastor Ben Gray gave 4 teachings on God’s bigger vision for the Middle East, unpacking chapter 19 of Isaiah and presenting Isaiah’s view on God’s kingdom perspective for Egypt, Assyria and Israel…and the nations. The rest of the teaching team from Australia (Pastor Ric Benson, Brian Pickering and Jonathan Gould) supported this theme in their individual sessions. It was quite a new revelation for many in the gathering.
Ric, Brian, and Jonathan each shared a session building on this theme. A real sense of God’s presence pervaded the meetings. The teaching helped many engage more fully with the complexities of the Middle East; especially Egypt and the value of our ministry and message. After six years of serving in this way, the time was right to expand their horizons and lift their vision to God’s big kingdom vision. The teaching engendered some rich conversations. It was again great to have our main translator and dear friend Sameh back assisting us at the conference; he’s such a delight to work with … a real blessing.
After thousands of years of broken promises, hatred and enmity between these ancient peoples across the region, once again out of the ashes a genuine and vibrant worship is beginning to rise to the throne room of heaven. Lands that now appear to be held captive to the spirit of the antichrist will one day finally be delivered, cleansed and made whole. Where finally the curse of ages past is reversed and the blessing of the Lord breaks in, ushering in His end-time agenda for this region and the nations. What a sight that will be!
The truth is, for Isaiah’s message, especially chapter 19 to reach its fulfilment, much has to change both within Egypt and the surrounding nations, especially in the Church. This window of change through which the Prophet Isaiah saw this end-time reality, is described in part as a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and people were going freely back and forth on it, most probably right through the nation of Israel – all worshiping and praising God together. As the song by Bart Millard says, I Can Only Imagine!
Included as part of the conferences were great times of praise, worship and prayer. The Egyptians love to worship and praise the Lord together. Worship can sometimes go on for an hour or so before each session. In the evenings you can hear them praising and praying into the early hours of the morning long after the official sessions have concluded. God moves in response to such praying! The conference concluded with a special prayer and commissioning time for all delegates with many speaking of their plans to return next year.
The Conference was held in The Agape Centre located in the Western Desert. With undeterred vision and perseverance and in some of the most difficult personal and national circumstances our ministry friends in Egypt have faithfully served our God. The Centre can now accommodate 750 people, including a nearly completed 1500 seat auditorium built over the last 2 years. They also have a small farm from which a significant amount of food is sourced. It truly is an amazing place of peace and hospitality.
For the fourth year in a row, Ps Ric Benson (former Senior Pastor Kenmore Baptist Church Brisbane) had his 40+ leader couples thoroughly enjoying his practical and down to earth marriage track. As always, they come away from these times wanting much more of Ric and his, “tried and tested” marriage building teaching. Ric not only teaches principles, but empowers them for positive change. Many have begun small groups using his material in their local areas. We hope to be publishing a new marriage building book, both in Arabic and English, by Ric in the future.
This was the second year that we have run a specific seminar for young emerging Egyptian leaders. We held it over two days prior to the main conference. This year we saw 112 young men and women attend, with half of them staying on for the main leader’s conference. The theme this year was: Keys to Christian Leadership. It is incredibly special to be able to invest this time in helping to shape tomorrow’s leaders today.
Prior to the Conference team members met with Rev. Dr Safwat N. EL-Baiady the President of the Protestant Churches in Egypt. Through Dr Safwat’s persistent leadership, he has, with key leaders in both the Coptic and Catholic churches, seen enshrined in the new Egyptian constitution the right of all people to practice their right of freedom of choice of religion. We look forward to our visits with him each time we return to Egypt as we always finish with a great prayer time together. We praise God for this man and the influence he has exerted for Christians in Egypt.
We say a big thank you to all who financially support our work in Egypt. Please continue your sponsorship by helping one or more Egyptian pastors or leaders attend in 2015: it costs just $50 per head per year. You can donate online using the secure facility at www.chiministries.com.au/?page_id=4782 Helping to make a difference in Egypt!