In Cairo this New Year’s Eve, so many believers gathered to begin 2019 in an atmosphere of praise and prayer that the 3,000-capacity Kasr el Dobara Evangelical Church (KDEC) had to expand into the street.
SAT-7 live-streamed the second of two New Year’s Eve celebrations from the church. Together they drew some 8,000 worshippers. As 3,000 participated in the main chapel and overflow rooms, a thousand more at both services braved a bitterly cold evening and sang their praises in the street by following the service on a large screen.
Under the title More of Jesus, the church’s senior pastor, Dr Sameh Maurice, took the theme of making room in a different direction. “If I’m filled with myself,” he said, “there won’t be space for Christ to increase in me.” Maurice quoted John the Baptist (John 3:30), saying, “He must increase, but I must decrease”.
Eva Botros, one of the pastors at the church, admitted: “We expected fewer people this year because of the cold, but it didn’t prevent people from coming. The worship was great – full of joy and life – and the message was very touching.”
“The whole difference”
Despite the high numbers attending, KDEC sees its ministry as one to the nation as a whole. With this in mind, Eva stressed how valuable it is to have the service streamed on SAT-7.
“It makes the whole difference!” she enthused. “Eight thousand can come to our church, but the number of people watching weekly through SAT-7 is 200,000. In a country of 100 million it isn’t enough to serve those who can come to the church. We need to reach across the whole country, to Upper and Lower Egypt.”
Eva often visits these areas as part of the church’s social action programme, and is thrilled to hear many tell her of the “life-changing experiences they have by watching on SAT-7”.
The New Year’s Eve celebration wasn’t the only great gathering broadcast on SAT-7 ARABIC at the start of this year. With Eastern Christmas falling on 7 January, another significant service was streamed live across the region.
On 4 January, KDEC played host to the Christmas Celebration of the Evangelical Church – the body linking most of the country’s Protestant churches. Representatives of the government and Al-Azhar university, the leading Muslim seat of learning, were in attendance. They heard Evangelical Church President Dr Andrea Zaki emphasise how the manger gathered people of diverse economic, social and religious backgrounds – from shepherds to Magi. “Accepting the other is essential for a resilient community,” he said.