In Scottish terms, John is a ‘son of the manse’. His father is a pastor of a congregation in the ever-expanding suburbs in the north of Cairo.
Despite studying to be an engineer (he has a Masters in Civil Engineering), John found himself working for the Church in the Synod of the Nile’s 80/800 Programme, which aims to develop 80 congregations as the first phase of a plan to create 800 Presbyterian congregations. There are currently just over 300.
John targeted 21 congregations over the length of Egypt, from Alexandria in the North to Aswan in the South, organising training courses in capacity building for church workers, elders and members. He sought to develop discipleship among the members, especially the youth, but also challenged the congregations to look outwards in community service, in education, health and agriculture.
John spent two years on the project. However, along with 90,000 other young people (which seems an incredibly high number, but this is Egypt!), he applied for selection to a training programme for youths initiated by President Sisi. He was successful, being one of only 33 Christians out of the 500 chosen. He has now completed the training and is waiting to be assigned to a position, perhaps in one of the ministries or even in the company setting up Egypt’s new capital, which is being established in between Cairo and Suez.
John seemingly collects degrees, and he is also in his third year of the MAOL programme (Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership) at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo. As its title suggests, the degree focuses on specific needs and issues surrounding Christian Leadership. The students take 12 modules over a three year period, and subjects include modules such as Strategic Thinking, Integrity & Finance, Spiritual Formation, Mentoring &Coaching and Conflict Management & Resolution. The students come to the Seminary for a week of intensive classes twice a year. They then continue their studies through distance learning, reading and writing assignments at home.
He has been enormously impressed by the modules he has taken so far, and especially enjoys their practical nature. He values the strengthening of leadership in the church and only hopes that the course, which has been taught in English so far, can be translated into Arabic so that it reaches a wider audience. John hopes to be used by God through what he learns in the course, and to be able to bring about transformation in Egypt.