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Reflections from Jen Haddox, Director of Global Engagement, ECO
Long ago, the prophet Isaiah promised that Egypt would be blessed (Isaiah 19:24-25). I returned from a week in Egypt marked with a blessing of hope and faith that was clearly evident in the life of the church.
Along with a group of others from ECO, I attended the 122nd annual prayer conference of the Synod of the Nile in the city of Ismailia, which is on the Suez Canal from September 27-30. This year over 700 pastors and leaders from the 450+ Presbyterian churches in Egypt gathered over 3 days, which included 6 worship and prayer sessions, each 3 hours long. That’s a lot of prayer and worship!
I think it’s safe to say that our whole group was inspired by the level of commitment and passion we experienced being poured out before God! Our American church prayers seemed “wimpy” by comparison as we witnessed Egyptian prayer leaders crying out, “We believe you can….God!” Through those prayer sessions we were directed to pray for churches, pastors, families, social issues, missionaries, Sudanese partners, church planting, and the blessing of the whole country and its leaders and people. A particularly moving session was a call to pastors to care for their own souls and tend to their personal prayer lives. We experienced petitionary, intercessory, and contemplative prayer, being directed to pray aloud together, gather in small group prayer, and personally spend time in quiet.
It’s a thrill to me that our ECO Synod is working to develop a partnership agreement with the Synod of the Nile. We are so blessed by the witness of this body of churches, who are growing even in the face of economic and social adversity. The Synod of the Nile has planted over 100 churches since the Arab Spring, and sent missionaries to challenging places in the wider region. This movement of the Holy Spirit is fueled by prayer and the sacrificial commitment of leaders who are reshaping seminary education and pressing for new initiatives to develop missionary and discipleship cultures in local churches.
As ECO steps into this denominational partnership, we recognize not just our theological affinity, but our need to be in fellowship as we both seek to plant churches and develop missional discipleship culture in our local churches. The Synod of the Nile is particularly excited about ECO’s existing ministry commitments through church-to-church partnerships cultivated over the past decades by our partners at Frontier Fellowship and The Outreach Foundation. Today there are 12 ECO churches with partner congregations in the Synod of the Nile, and the shared prayer, visits, and ministry initiatives have brought life on both sides of the partnership. The Synod of the Nile has a list of approved congregations waiting for an ECO partner church. Maybe your church is called to step into this dynamic partnership opportunity?
If you’d like to explore this idea, please reach out! You’ll have the opportunity at the upcoming National Gathering to meet a number of Egyptian pastors and leaders that we are hosting this year. You are also welcome to attend the Global Engagement dinner and post-conference partnership training to explore the opportunity. I hope this National Gathering will be a testimony to our Egyptian partners of God’s work in our shared Gospel commitments.
The 122nd Annual Prayer Conference of the Synod of the Nile, September 27-30, 2023
Discussing ECO’s partnership agreement with leaders of the Synod of the Nile.
Our group of ECO representatives include Nate Dreesmann, myself, and 6 others from ECO churches who have partner churches in Egypt. The team included: Andrew Dickinson from Douglasville, GA; Philip and Janet King from Winston-Salem, NC, Robby and Jessica Spicer and Casey Wood from Amarillo, TX, and myself from Waynesburg, PA.