We felt pressured by the formidable task of leading fundraising efforts in this diocese of eight countries. We saw the desperate human need around us. Refugees needing emergency food provision. Migrants in prison needing an air ticket to return home. Congregations meeting under trees because they had no church. Isolated villagers needing medical care. Children with disabilities needing an education. Women needing to learn to read and write. And yet, soon we began to see the incredible potential for the Anglican Church to address these needs, and we also started to see the way in which God provided through His people. Each time there was a need, it was amazing to witness God provide the funds in unexpected and providential ways.
We decided to call our new office the “Partnership Office” because we were convinced that, in the context of the worldwide Church, the sharing of resources is not merely a financial transaction but the deepening of relationships, a sharing of a spiritual vision, and a building of God’s kingdom together.
The Anglican Relief and Development Fund (ARDF) is one of the organisations that maintains a long-standing partnership with our Diocese. Both ARDF and the Diocese of Egypt share a vision for transforming lives, and showing the love of Christ through meeting physical needs and proclaiming the love of Christ holistically. Every day, the Anglican Church in Egypt serves Muslims and Christians through an astonishing number of ministries including hospitals, nurseries, schools, a theological seminary, micro-enterprise ventures, adult literacy, vocational training programs, and ministries serving refugees as well as the deaf and the disabled.
One of the projects supported by ARDF was the construction of a Vocational Training Center for the Deaf in Cairo. A boarding school for deaf children was established in Cairo in 1982 to provide an education which these children would otherwise not have the opportunity to experience. I saw the way children’s lives were transformed as they learned Egyptian sign language and started to communicate with the other people, often for the first time in their lives. A few years later, a small Vocational Training Center (VTC) was established to provide technical skills to deaf adults to enable them to find employment and support themselves and their families. As both the center and school grew, more space was needed and a new Vocational Training Center was built on the outskirts of Cairo.
One of the people whose life has been transformed through this ministry is my friend Clement. He came to Egypt as a refugee after his family was murdered in Sudan. Disadvantaged both by his refugee status and his hearing disability, he struggled to find employment in Cairo. However, through the VTC he learnt carpentry skills and earned money making furniture and craft products. He became a trainer at the VTC and mentored many of the young deaf boys. As the Church for the Deaf meets in the same location, he started to attend church and became a follower of Jesus. Clement is now a lay leader at the church, and is leading a project to translate the Bible into Egyptian sign language – a first in the Middle East.
Henri Nouwen writes that “when those with money and those who need money share vision we see a central sign of new life in the Spirit of Christ.” Working on the receiving and implementing end of this Christ-centered partnership, I saw first-hand the impact that gifts from ARDF can have. These gifts transformed lives in Egypt, as well as in Tunisia and Ethiopia. If you are a supporter of ARDF, I want to thank you for your partnership in the Gospel and for helping Anglicans in the developing world to show the love of Christ to those in need in their own communities.
-By Rosie Fyfe; Rosie Fyfe hails from New Zealand, and is currently studying at Trinity School for Ministry and working for The Anglican Relief and Development Fund in Ambridge, PA. From 2010 to 2014, she worked in the Partnership Office of the Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and Horn of Africa under the leadership of the Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis.