SAT-7 discipleship series Follow Me recently introduced viewers to Pastor Elia Maurice. He shared how he has witnessed God’s faithfulness through war, displacement, a kidnapping attempt, and a family tragedy that changed his life forever.
On screen, Elia is an unassuming man. One would never suspect his extraordinary life story based on his composure and his assured confidence in the Lord:
“God doesn’t make mistakes,” he says. “He has a great plan for our lives. Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus, not on our circumstances.”
Elia’s hometown of Ismailia, Egypt, was attacked when he was 14 years old. His family were internally displaced by the violence.
“Our neighbours’ homes were destroyed by airstrikes – my football friends were killed. Even when we fled to Minya, I couldn’t find peace of mind,” he remembers.
But in this opposite end of the country, God provided a friend: “God sent me a messenger of peace to quieten my spirit.”
SEEING GOD’S HAND
Since then, Elia has been constantly reminded of the faithfulness of God.
To go to university he faced another move – to the mega-city of Cairo where he knew no-one. Elia was daunted. But a few weeks before starting uni, a group of church volunteers came to Minya. Elia was asked to accompany them during their stay, so when he arrived in Cairo he had a ready-made group of friends for fellowship.
“This was a great source of comfort and companionship,” he says.
When he joined the army, Elia was the only Christian in his 1000-strong regiment.
“I used to spend my night-watches praising and worshipping the Lord. When He filled me with the Holy Spirit, God healed me from the anger problem that I had,” Elia says.
Despite being the sole Christian, Elia bravely shared his faith with his fellow soldiers and superiors.
FACING A TRAGEDY
Elia later met and married his wife, who is from Germany. But when the couple’s son was four years old, the family was rocked by a series of traumatic events.
In 1989, Elia was driving with his car full of charity donations when thieves violently attempted to hijack his vehicle and kidnap him.
“They demanded to know where I was going. When I told them I was distributing groceries to orphans, they took pity and left me. I returned home in a state of fear and anxiety,” he says.
Elia’s sister-in-law and her husband were staying with them at the time. That night, the family agreed that if anything ever happened to either couple, the other parents would take custody and become guardians of their nephews and nieces.
The following day, Elia’s sister-in-law and her husband were killed in a car accident.
A LIFE-CHANGING MOVE
The couple’s children, Christopher (7), and Philip (4), were injured in the crash. Keeping their promise, Elia and his family moved to Germany to look after his nephews. The move was hard on Elia – he spoke no German, had to leave his work behind, and had no work prospects.
Both boys were traumatised. Every night, Philip woke at 4 in the morning crying for his mother. Elia took the children to several mental health professionals, even studying psychology himself, to try to support them.
Eventually, his nephews began to heal. What helped the most, Elia says, was simply talking to them about their parents.
Through all the trauma, Elia testifies God’s faithfulness. Romans 8:28 states:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ The Lord turned their sorrow into a gift of empathy to help others.”
“God changed us and helped us console many other believers going through disasters,” Elia says. Elia is now a church leader with an international ministry to Arab speakers, and Philip and Christopher are thriving. Philip is studying to become a pastor too.
Follow Me is a weekly show hosted by Lebanese pastor and musician Ayman Kafrouny. After enjoying a successful secular career, he came to know Christ and turned his talent to worship leading before also being ordained. Kafrouny is well-known across the Arab world and the show is widely watched. Each episode combines conversation, call ins from viewers, and worship led by a studio band. It aims to encourage viewers to keep following Jesus in the choices they make and through whatever struggles and challenges come their way.