Cairo visit

Posted on

I am nearing the end of my studies at Trinity School for Ministry! Originally I wanted to get this degree finished as soon as possible, and then get back involved in things. However, in the first year it became clear that this time of study was much more than just head knowledge, but healing and growing in God. I have two more courses to complete this semester, my thesis is due in April, and (God willing) I will graduate in May 2018.

This year, I’ve been studying courses in Romans, Hebrew language, systematic theology, church history and pastoral care. I’m finally writing my thesis, which will focus on how a theology of the Kingdom of God speaks into the theory and practice of international development.

In July/August, I spent three weeks in Egypt leading a trip with six other students and staff from Trinity. This was a great opportunity to return to one of the places that I call home, and to bring a group of seminarians along for the ride. Some high-lights:

Organising services, music, and preaching at the English speaking congregation of All Saints Cathedral (pictured above), filling in gaps while the priest was away. Visiting ministries of the Diocese. It was great to see projects that I had been involved with funding come to fruition, such as a school for Sudanese refugee children and a medical ICU unit. After many delays, the construction of the new outpatient clinic for Harpur Memorial Hospital in Menouf began this week. The joy of seeing my “Egypt world” and “seminary world” collide. One of our group preached at an Arabic congregation on our first Sunday.  Organising a workshop on the topic of how does theology speak into community development work. This was attended by former colleagues working in refugee ministries, community centres in slum areas, hospitals, seminarians, and a priest. This happened at the invite of the Diocese Director of Development, and modelled on a format of human rights workshops in Norway that a friend had been involved with. The discussion was really good, people gave positive feedback, and it helped me to think through some aspects of what I want to write about in my thesis. One thing that felt very different was the heightened security at churches; a result of the several attacks on churches in Egypt in recent months. A Coptic priest took us around St Mark’s Coptic Cathedral, where in December 2016 a bomb killed 29 people. There was still residue from the explosion on the columns of the church, chips out of the murals of saints on the walls, and a bloodstain on the wall of the courtyard where one of the injured had leaned.

Before visiting Egypt, I visited my seminary roommate Grace and her husband in Kenya. She is an Anglican priest in the Diocese of Kirinyaga, a rural area in the foothills of Mount Kenya. She was a wonderful host and the each day was full of surprises: a 7 hour prayer meeting, speaking to orphans on the importance of education, being interviewed on the Diocese TV station, touring a tea factory… We also did a pilgrimage at the “Safari ya Biblia,”a ministry that Grace was leading before seminary. As it is not a culture where people read a lot, the idea is that groups come to visit and the guide takes them around the bible by walking around the site. It was a great visit of learning more about the Anglican Church worldwide, and understand more of Grace’s context.

Waiting patiently

Posted on

I’ve been dwelling on Psalm 40 recently, “I waited patiently for the Lord…” One thing the Lord is teaching me at the moment is that his plans for me are better than mine. I’ve seen him continually provide for me and guide me in ways I would never have expected. This is a transitional season of my life, where I am only planning one semester at a time, and seeking to trust the Lord for the present and the future.

Study. I really enjoyed the last semester at Trinity. I got the top grade for all my courses — not that getting As in seminary is the most important thing, but that I learned more in and grew in studying preaching, early church history, Hosea and Anglican theology this semester. For this last course, I enjoyed writing a essay about Temple Gairdner, one of the first CMS missionaries in Egypt who was ahead of his time in his work with the majority religious group. This semester I’m studying Hebrew (it’s similar to Arabic!), ethics, Romans, and God the Son (systematic theology).

Uncommon Grounds. I’ve loved getting involved in this community café in a struggling neighbouring town. Set up by Church Army USA, they run lots of programmes for addicts, veterans, women, and are a place of welcome. I’ve committed to attending (and dishwashing!) at Church of the Margins, where anyone can sit at the table, eat, share from our lives about a different question each week and pray together. It’s always unexpected what happens and it’s a joy to be part of this ministry.

Arabic Bible study. I’ve continued to enjoy spending time with four families from Aleppo. I ambitiously decided to cook Thanksgiving dinner for them (more than 20 guests), and wonderfully a local store donated the food so I only had to learn how to source and cook a halal turkey! I had been praying about how to follow up on their interest in learning more about Jesus. God provided an Egyptian and an American man who both have Arabic fluent enough to lead the study and translate. Each 2 weeks, we listen to the Bible in Arabic, and together answer four questions: what does it tells us about God, what does it tell us about each other, what can we obey, and how can we share with others. Our last study was about the story of Cain and Abel, the first murder. It was powerful to hear these friends talk about the violence in Aleppo in relation to the “blood crying out from the land,” and the universality of the power of sin and violence. Please keep these families in your prayers.

Home life. In August, I moved in a wonderful new flat, located above the SAMS (the USA equivalent of CMS) headquarters and across the road from seminary. I’m living with Grace, a priest who arrived from Kenya to study. She is a great friend to laugh, cry, sing, dance, cook and pray with, and I’m so thankful for her. We’ve sought to make our home a place of hospitality — most recently a winter night gathering with poetry and banjo-uke singalong.

Summer and beyond. In July this year, I will co-lead a small group from seminary to learn from our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church in Egypt. I’m really excited to re-connect with friends there, and it may help with future discernment also. After this, my plans are open to where the Lord leads. I’m planning to write a thesis related to community development and the church, and I have a development professor from another seminary to supervise this.

A year in Pittsburgh

Posted on

Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. …You have turned my mourning into dancing. You have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, So that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord God my God, I will give you thanks forever (Psalm 30)

The beautiful words above, written by King David hundreds of years ago, describe well my past year. I didn’t know at the time but when I arrived here I was carrying a lot of “stuff.“ Over the last year, I have been confronted with a lot of my own brokenness but I know that God is healing me, and changing me in this process. An image I’ve frequently thought of is Aslan the Lion in ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ clawing into Eustace’s flesh, removing layers of skin, but in that painful process creating a new person. I am thankful for this time away, for a counsellor, a slower pace of life, which has enabled healing and I know is preparing me for future ministry.

Trinity School for Ministry I’ve finished my first year at Trinity seminary, located in a small town near Pittsburgh, western Pennsylvania. I’m studying towards a Masters in Theology and Church History. I have one more year of classes to finish and then I plan to write a thesis.

Some glimpses of life here:

Ambridge is a former steel town devastated by the decline of the steel industry. Trinity was planted by an Australian missionary in the 1970s and it was placed in this town intentionally so as to be involved in a hurt-ing community. I joined a “cleaning and beautifying” community group and it’s been a joy to bring more beauty to this town. There’s a Coptic Orthodox Church one block from Trinity and I’ve enjoyed making friends there, and buying Egyptian food supplies. I’ve loved group study sessions with a diverse group of friends. My friend recently bought a kettle just so she could make me cups of tea! I attempted enculturation by joining the seminary flag football team. We won the “Lutherbowl” against other seminaries. I helped organize “Missions Day” where Archbishop Mouneer was speaking. As he spoke about ministry in Egypt, I was reminded what a privilege it was to serve in this Diocese. Learning the difference in pronunciation between “beer” and “bear,” and realising that the kiwi phrase “sweet as” can be easily misunderstood… Finding life-giving community at Southside Anglican Church, whose focus is “messengers of God’s radical grace to the wounded and sceptic.”

The Summer Break Over the summer I lived at a retreat and prayer centre on the Southside slopes of Pittsburgh. I spent a lot of time praying and reading, which has been a welcome break after the intensity of the year.

It was also a great joy to work part-time for the Anglican Relief and Development Fund (ARDF). ARDF’s mission is to partner with local Anglican churches to transform lives and communities in some of the world’s most challenging areas through sustainable, high-impact development projects. I really like their partnership model, as the Archbishops of the Global South make the funding decisions for projects in their areas of the Anglican Communion. Previously I had worked with them in implementing pro-jects in Egypt, Ethiopia, Tunisia and Iraq and before I arrived, ARDF had been praying for someone to work in fundraising. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve written a funding proposal for education projects including a school for pygmies in DRC, vocational training in Myanmar, and a hostel for female students in Tan-zania. See more here:

I was recently put in touch with two families recently arrived in Pittsburgh from Syria. They are from a Muslim background. During their time in another Middle Eastern country they have been doing “Discovery Bible Studies” and the patriarch of the family had a miraculous vision of Jesus. The first time I visited, I didn’t go with an agenda but just to meet them and be friends. However, immediately the kids asked if I was Christian, the 9 year old girl told me stories about Jesus in Arabic, and asked if they could come to church with me. They have lived through very difficult times that I can’t imagine, but I do know when they talk about Jesus they do so with joy and their faces light up.

Thank you for your love and prayers. I’m excited to continue walking in this adventure that God is taking me on.

Rosie and the Teapot

Posted on

In late 18th century England, a small group of energetic people of faith started meeting regularly around a pot of tea to share their frustrations with the way things were. They began each meeting with tea and a short prayer, then for three hours discussed a subject that had been proposed at a previous meeting. They prayed, discussed, imagined alternatives and put their passion into action. This group, named the Eclectic Society, included John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace, and William Wilberforce, who helped to abolish slavery in England. This group also led to the foundation of the Church Mission Society.

In April 2016, I joined the staff and faculty of Trinity School for Ministry at the New Wineskins Mission Conference. Anglicans from across the globe took part in this fantastic conference attended by 1200 participants. I particularly loved catching up with global Anglican friends, and was re-inspired by what the Lord is doing across the world.

The famous teapot used by the Eclectic Society also made a proud appearance on the CMS UK booth. As I examined it, I imagined the faithful Christians who started the work of CMS, and the faithful Christians who continue this work. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Rosie at Trinity School for Ministry

Posted on

I write this sitting on my porch of my new home, in a small town about 30 minutes from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I’m here to study at Trinity School for Ministry, an evangelical Anglican seminary which aims to form Christian leaders for mission.

Before arriving here, I was wonderfully blessed to spend time with a dear friend, Jubilee, whom I shared a home with in Cairo. Our time together helped me transition as she patiently fielded questions on life in the USA. She even interpreted for her family when they understood me saying that the most frightening thing about North America is the ‘beer’ (I meant to talk about the large growly animals!).

I’m starting to feel settled and I’m excited about studying here. This semester I’m studying courses on ‘Evangelism and Church Planting,’ ‘Old Testament Introduction,’ ‘Biblical Interpretation,’ and ‘Systematic Theology.’ Today I read that “one of the privileges of coming away to seminary is the opportunity to drink from the well of a deep and sustaining tradition so that we in turn might pass it on to others.” This is my hope as I’m studying here.

Rosie has been a Mission Partner in Egypt. She is currently upskilling by studying at Trinity School of Ministry.

Tragedy in Heliopolis

Posted on

Pictured: Members and friends of the St. Michael’s Church congregation gather to pray. Article re-posted from The Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

One child is dead and eight women are hospitalized following the Monday explosion of three gas bottles, sparking a fire in the Kilo 4.5 neighborhood of Nasr City in Cairo. The group of ladies were preparing a meal for a meeting at the St. Gabriel Center, a Sudanese social center and ministry of St. Michael’s Anglican Churchin Heliopolis.

Youssef Attiya, a nine-month-old infant, succumbed to smoke inhalation and died this morning. His mother Mona Ismail remains in critical condition in the Galaa Hospital of Nasr City.

Ikhlas Ali is also in critical condition, suffering burns over 90 percent of her body. She is two months pregnant and the wife of Rev. Hassan Jemes, associate pastor of St. Michael’s in charge of the Sudanese congregation. Hospital staff at the Nile Emergency Center in Nasr City said she has little chance to survive, according to Rev. Jos Strengholt, dean of East Cairo Anglican churches and priest-in-charge at St. Michael’s.

Another child, nine-year-old Sonita Musa, suffered a bad head wound but was discharged this morning. Her mother Aziza Ibrahim remains hospitalized but is in stable condition. According to Shawgi Kori, director of St. Gabriel’s Center, Ibrahim helped around eight other women and children escape the fire, pushing several through a window, before being injured herself.

The meal was to be in commemoration of a child relative of one of the church members who recently died in Sudan. The explosion blasted pots of boiling oil to the ceiling, which then sprayed onto several women. The church community is now organizing rounds of visitation to care for the injured and the needs of their families.

The St. Gabriel’s Center serves the large Sudanese refugee population of Nasr City without discrimination. It runs a clinic, a vocational training program, English lessons, and provides a social outlet especially for women and youth in the neighborhood. One of the injured women is a Muslim.

“These are women associated with our church,” said Rev. Strengholt, stating only two have medical insurance. “We are committed to helping them whatever we need to do.”


Since this was written four women have died, including Ikhlas, the wife of Rev Hassan. Rev Hassan Jemes is the priest of the Sudanese congregation and  just became the Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Kadugli and the Nuba Mountains. Our Mission Partner Rosie worked with Hassan in the prison previously – her heart breaks for him.

A New Spirit and a New Hope

Posted on

The following is an update from Bishop Mouneer of the Diocese of Egypt where our Mission Partner Rosie is based.

Dear friends,

Last week we heard about terrorist attacks which targeted the army and the police in Egypt. These attacks occur from time to time since the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from power.

Also last week, millions of Egyptians queued in the banks to deposit whatever they had in order to participate with the Egyptian government in fulfilling a new project in Egypt to establish a new canal parallel to Suez Canal. This was the response of the Egyptian people to the call made by President Al-Sisi to participate in this ‘project of the country’.

The new canal project will cost around 60 billion Egyptian pounds, but it will improve the economy and create many job opportunities. People bought shares in this project according to their ability from as low as 10 Egyptian pounds to several thousand pounds. The surprise was that the people paid more than the 60 billion pounds needed for the project.

This was an amazing response from the Egyptian people who did not allow fear from terrorism to hinder their hope in the future of Egypt. I see the millions who crowded at the banks as another referendum in support of the current government. It is a new spirit and a new hope.

I hope the similar new spirit may spread in the church of the Middle East. We need such a new hope while we are facing many challenges such as the immigration of youth and violence against Christians.

We can have such new hope when we hold on to God’s promise ‘Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert’. (Isaiah 43 : 19)

Let us lay aside every fear, wrong and weight which can hinder us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

May the Lord Bless you!

Bishop Mouneer Hanna Anis


Egypt Appeal Update

Posted on

Last year a special appeal was issued by Bishop Mouneer from Egypt. Here is a small update about the appeal and what it has accomplished.

Background to the Situation

The last few years have been traumatic for Egyptians. We have witnessed bloodshed on our streets, vandalism and the deliberate destruction of churches and government buildings in lawless acts of revenge. In 2013, one of our Anglican churches was attacked, and other ministries received threats. We praise God that our churches and congregations are safe, but we grieve for the loss of life and for the churches which were burnt in August 2013. Unemployment is at a record high, there is a lack of security on the streets, the economy is in decline, and poverty is crushing for many people in Egypt. Refugees too are suffering, those from Syria and from other African countries, such as Sudan.


The funds that were donated in response to the appeal have been used to help many families and individuals in difficult situations. Below are testimonies of three people who were helped by this support.

Rehab: I am 37 years ago. I got married many years ago, but my husband became psychologically unstable and started to beat me up. I took my two daughters and moved to my mother’s house. I started to clean houses to make a living and to put my children through school. My daughters have now graduated from university and one daughter recently got married. According to the culture in Egypt, the bride’s family must provide the furniture for the house. I did not have enough money to do this, and I shared my problem with the staff at the Boulaq Community Development Centre. The centre helped me a lot and financially supported me to buy furniture for my daughter. This was a big blessing for me and for my daughter.

Nahed: I moved from Upper Egypt to Ras El Soda, a very poor area near Alexandria. I heard about the Ras el Soda Community Centre and started to attend some lectures about raising children and health education. I also sent my children to the nursery at the centre. I had no toilet in my house, which was so difficult for my children. I desperately needed a toilet and so I went to the centre with my problem. They agreed to pay for the labour and I paid for the materials. This was a great help for my family.

Om Farouk is a 75 year old woman. She broke her leg badly, and the church helped her to pay for the surgery. The church visited her regularly to give her Holy Communion in her home and provide her with food supplies.


For more details click here.

Pray for Tripoli and Christ the King Church

Posted on

Intense fighting between rival armed groups and militias has rocked the city of Tripoli in Libya over recent weeks. There has been indiscriminate shelling of urban areas, and according to the Ministry of Health, the fighting has killed 214 and injured 981 in Tripoli and Benghazi. The government in Libya has attempted to issue ceasefire orders, but with no force loyal to the state strong enough to take on the militias on its own, and enforce the decisions, the decrees have not had any effect.

Please pray for safety and security for the leaders and congregations of Christ the King Church in Tripoli. Rev. Ayo, one of the priests, wrote today “I was robbed of my phone yesterday evening, but glory be to the Lord for His presence which prevailed over them, because their intention was to take me away.”

Rev. Vasihar and Malini continue to serve at the church, as they feel it is important for them to be there for the many Indian church members who are still staying in Tripoli and elsewhere. Rev. Samuel and Hony were in Egypt when the violence started, and have been asked to remain in Egypt for now. Many Egyptians have left the country, and at the moment there are no Egyptians coming to the church for the Arabic-speaking services

Please pray for the whole nation and its future.


Originally posted at

Tensions in the Middle East

Posted on

The following is an update from Bishop Mouneer. Our Mission Partner Rosie works under Mouneer in Egypt. Here he captures the feelings that many believers throughout this region are experiencing.

My dear friends,

The Middle East is groaning.  You hear about what is happening in Iraq and the many Christians who are being forced to leave their homes and also those who were killed by ISIS (Daash).  Over 1500 have been killed in Gaza and 8000 were injured in the recent days because of the fighting between Israel and Hamas.  Syria is suffering greatly, and we are receiving many Syrian refugees here in Egypt.  Libya is struggling with tribal wars and conflicts, and Christ the King Anglican Church in Tripoli is in the midst of this.  South Sudan is torn again by fighting and hundreds of thousands are fleeing to neighboring countries, including Ethiopia.  Here in Egypt, every other day we hear about a violent and terrorist attack, especially in the Sinai where military and police officers are targeted. What a region, full of flames and blood.

In the midst of all this, many people are saying “Where are you, God? Why are you allowing this to happen to your people?”  It reminds me with the cries of King David in Psalm 77 when he said, “Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more? Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed forevermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?”  We find the answer to all these questions in the same Psalm, “I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.”

Indeed, we need to think of how God was faithful to his church in this region in the last 2000 years.  Just as the blood of the martyrs became the seeds of many churches throughout this region, we trust that this current turmoil will turn into something good.  We don’t understand now, but one day we or the next generation will.

We don’t have any way to heal the situation, except by prayer.  One of the good outcomes of this very difficult time for Christians in the Middle East is that last week all churches in Egypt gathered together in the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral to pray.  This was a very special time and we felt united in Christ through prayer.  We prayed for our fellow Christians and Muslims throughout the region, and we remembered what King Jehoshaphat said in 2 Chronicles 20: “For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”  We also remembered the words of St. Peter “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4).

Do pray for peace in our region and grace for us.

Bishop Mouneer