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Economic Empowerment

"I Wanted to Give More"

Recently, Sawsan paid a visit to an impoverished neighborhood of Cairo, near Giza. There, families cluster in small dilapidated homes with dirt floors. Many of the households are headed by women whose husbands have died or abandoned them.

Sawsan carried baby formula to a young mother of three girls unable to provide milk to her two-month-old daughter. She also arranged for a doctor’s visit at no charge.

This is the kind of work Sawsan does now after having left a successful career as a pharmacist last year to serve in full time ministry. It was a bold move, but not without precedent. Two decades ago, her husband Nathan stepped out in faith and gave up a career in veterinary medicine to serve the Lord full time.

Over the years, Sawsan assisted her husband, executive director for International Needs Egypt, in his work, which includes everything from running a Bible school to educating street children to distributing food to refugees. But she wanted to do more.

“I felt like it was time for me to give more to the ministry,” says Sawsan of her decision. “To give all my time. There is such great need in Egypt right now that I felt in my heart I wanted to give more to my people.”

Egypt’s tumultuous and violent political history and rapidly growing population have contributed to uncontrolled inflation and rampant unemployment. Today a staggering three million children live on the nation’s streets, orphaned or abandoned by families who cannot afford to keep them.

In June 2015, a local businessman helped Nathan and Sawsan found the New Life Center. The center, for which Sawsan serves as director, offers vocational training to help empower struggling individuals and families through low-cost courses in computers, hairdressing, air conditioning repair, mobile phone maintenance, English, and Bible.

To date, about 100 people have graduated from the program. Graduates receive starter kits to help them launch their own business.

Although the vocational center welcomes people of all faiths, it must comply with Egyptian law forbidding Christians from sharing their faith with Muslims.

“We cannot share directly by talking about our faith in God,” Sawsan says. “But we can share indirectly by sharing our love with the people.”

As Christians, Sawsan and Nathan are part of a vulnerable minority in a predominantly Muslim land. Their lives and work are not without risk, and they are no strangers to threats and intimidation.

But they are undeterred. Years earlier, when they made the decision to leave the refuge of Canada for their unstable homeland, God reminded them that, in all things, “Love casts out fear” (I John 4:18 KJV). They draw strength from this promise every day.

“We knew that life in Egypt would be difficult,” says Sawsan. “But we have faith that God is with us. We believe that God will open more doors and use us more and more. It is a great joy to see people change when the love of God catches their hearts.”