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A Message from an Alumnus in Cairo

The Rev. Sameh Hanna in CairoFrom PCConnect*:

A graduate of Knox College, Rev. Sameh Hanna was ordained by The Presbyterian Church in Canada in 2007 and served with the Arabic Outreach Mission in Toronto before relocating to his native Egypt with his Nevine and two daughters. Rev. Hanna now serves the Kasr El Dobara Evangelical Church just off Tahrir Square in Cairo.

On February 11th, Rev. Hanna sent the following message to supporters in Canada. We offer it here as a witness to the service of our brothers and sisters in Egypt and ask for continued prayers for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

Dear prayer warriors,

Thank-you for the many e-mails/calls we’ve received asking about us in Egypt. We are a blessed family to know that you are praying for us and our people. As many of you know, our church is located in Tahrir Square (where the demonstrations are taking place) in the downtown. We are safe, but there is still a curfew in the evening hours. The food supply is good: it is easily available but it is getting very expensive. Please continue to pray that the Lord will intervene, and that a peaceful resolution will be implemented.

I would like to share with you encouraging news. Last Sunday I led a worship in Tahrir Square with our worship team. We sang a few songs asking God to bless Egypt, some read scripture and others prayed publicly. It was received very well by Muslims and their leaders (see attached photos).

We meet daily for three hours in different homes in Cairo to pray for our country and for the Egyptian people. We do that because we cannot open the church because of it’s location. However, everyone is encouraged that we are together. After praying and sharing we started to think of how we can minister during this crisis we did the following:

    • Two groups of our young people went to clean and collect the garbage from streets; each group had about 110 people.
    • Some people visited the police stations to tell the police officers “Welcome back!” and that we appreciated their services. We gave them flowers in an expression of the love of Christ, and their response has been very positive.
    • Another group has been distributing food in several poor areas of town.

Even so, the current situation is very dangerous and unpredictable. We have been encouraged to see our sovereign Lord help us through this and we are confident it will turn out for the greater good.

So as you watch the TV news reports and witness the turmoil in Egypt, let it stir us to pray. Let it also move us to say to God, “Here we are. Send us into the chaos and pain. Use us to make disciples of all nations.”

Praise God for His goodness and sovereignty!

Please pray for our beloved Egypt and God’s intervention; for our church in Cairo that is encouraging members of its congregations to volunteer at hospitals in need of nurses and to help elderly people; and for peace in the minds and hearts of the Egyptians, as the future is uncertain.

Pray also that God will provide some financial support for those in need. We are collecting funds to attend to the needs of those who didn’t receive their paychecks — banks have been closed for a long time and are now open only for a few hours a day.

As I am finishing this email President Mubarak is submitting his resignation.

Blessings,

Sameh Hanna

*Used with permission from The Presbyterian Church in Canada.

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Principal’s Message – Winter 2011

A new year — and with it a transition to a new term, a telling reminder of the passing of time — chronos (chronological time) and kairos (God’s time) — both central to how we live our lives and carry out our calling. One describes the passing of minutes, and hours and the seasons of the year, while the other reminds us that these markers are part of a deeper concept of life lived in Christ: “time lived within time.”

For many of us today, chronological time appears troubling. If we are honest, we wonder, if but a little, whether or not the foundations of our hope have been knocked out from under us. We are worried in the present and fearful for the future. At Knox, such anxiety usually takes form in the question: what does it mean in these times to prepare leaders for The Presbyterian Church in Canada?

This is a critical question for us, yet as Principal I tend to reframe it. As we prepare students for ministry, it seems to me that another question to ask is: what difference would it make to Canadian society if Knox College did not exist? Not surprisingly, my answer is —“a tremendous amount!” Why? We are part of a tradition that has a powerful vision for understanding and living the Christian life in a changing context. It includes many commitments, not the least of which is the ongoing renewal of Christian vision — the willingness and courage to reinterpret old wisdom for new contexts: Reformed yet always reforming.

This vision is about extending God’s grace, given so freely to us, to all in our communities. It is about working with other Christian denominations and other faith traditions — working ecumenically to foster fullness of life for all here in Canada and around the world.

From the beginning, the PCC has made an important contribution to the well-being of Canada, from schools to hospitals, to social services where hungry people are fed, homeless given shelter, strangers welcomed and the vulnerable protected. Because of our commitment to the biblical witness, wehave been led to ask difficult, probing questions, about the kind of political, economic and social structures needed to ensure the well-being of all. Together these form an ecology, a way of being inthe world, a way of speaking and living within our society that gives shape to our belief and action. This is who we are. Yes, we have done great things and we have made mistakes along the way.

The prophet Jeremiah sums up this commitment so well. The Israelites are in captivity in Babylon. They are a fearful, dispirited people —“how can they sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it! How could they live as covenant people without Jerusalem, without the temple! Listen to what Jeremiah says: “build houses and live in them, plant gardens….Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile; pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your own.” God’s grace, God’s hope is present in Babylon. It is within you, says Jeremiah. Live it fully in community with those around you.

We have Presbyterian churches in villages, towns and cities all across Canada. As a seminary that prepares leaders we seek to plant within ourstudents a vision that places them in the thick of these communities prepared to live out God’s grace in the midst of all the messiness, all the challenges, the joys and the hardships of our communities. After all we are The Presbyterian Churchin Canada!

Surely this is a vision worth striving for — to be fully alive where God has placed us because God’s grace is alive within us. Someone much wiser than Isaid recently that a compelling religious vision cannot survive disembodied from religious forms that ground that vision, a place that encourages the past to dialogue with the present in order that new meaning, a renewed vision emerges. This is what we commit to beat Knox College — a place where the past and future connect, the place where our present anxiety is being worked out in a transformative vision!

For me it is a vision in which hope remains strong as time unfolds within time.

In Christian friendship,
Dorcas Gordon
Principal

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