I can’t identify a specific time in my life when I gave my life to Jesus. It seems that I have always been a Christian, having grown up in a Christian family, and being used to going to church regularly while growing up.
I was baptized Orthodox, but I’ve attended Protestant churches my whole life. I have been regularly attending a Protestant church called Kasr El Doubara, and I’m currently leading a small youth group of nine girls and also involved in several activities with the church.
The reason I chose to affiliate with a Protestant church is because Orthodox teachings are very rigid, it’s all about rules and traditions — you miss out on the intimate relationship God wants to have with you. They care too much about following the rules until there’s no room for a personal relationship with God and therefore no room for spiritual growth and maturity.
Although I attend Kasr El Doubara on a regular basis now, I still go to Orthodox churches for communion on Saturdays, and I attend services during Christian celebrations such as Christmas, Easter, etc. I guess it’s become something of a tradition, we don’t consider it an absolute must, but we’ve become accustomed to celebrating the Coptic way.
Denominations are an important aspect in Christian living for many Egyptians. Many Copts refuse to attend Evangelical churches on the grounds that they are too liberal, and Protestants claim that Copts are too conservative and rigid. I believe there are differences, but that doesn’t mean being part of a certain denomination defines you. Kasr El Doubara has really helped me in my relationship with God, I’m able to understand Him more, and understand His purposes for my life along the way.
The first turning point in my life was when I was 12 years old. I went through a traumatizing incident: I broke my hip bone while swinging on the monkey bars at school. I stayed three months at the hospital and three months at home. I couldn’t move, and I had to be carried everywhere.
During this time, I had personal school tutors come to my home. Day and night my family and I prayed that I would get miraculously healed because the doctor said the surgery would help me walk with crutches for a while and I would always have this slight limp.
At the end of the sixth month, I had a second operation. The nurses had the crutches ready and helped me use them. My mother insisted that I try without them! I took a few aching steps, then I was finally able to walk without any help — and without crutches. Most of all there was no limp!
The doctor said this was a miracle; there was no way I should’ve been able to walk without a crutch for at least the first few months after the surgery. God healed me, and I saw His grace in the support and encouragement we got from our friends and family who were always there for us. God reached out to me in different ways during that time, and I was able to see his grace and power in the midst of this.
Another turning point in my life was after I did my DTS (Discipleship Training School) with YWAM in Denver in 2005. I got a deeper understanding of God’s Word and how to apply it in my daily walk with Him. I was able to fully understand the depth of His love for me, and let Him into every aspect of my life. I also learned how I can better serve Him and how to make Him known to others.
It was such a pivotal point in my life, not only did I enjoy every minute of it, but I was able to draw closer to God and immerse myself into this personal relationship with Him that I’ve never had before.
In the past I used to go through the motions: I went to church, prayed, fasted when told to do so, and simply followed the pack. I always knew there was a God I was supposed to worship and revere, but I never knew He could be personal and that He was meant to be my friend, not just a far-away and impersonal God.
After DTS, I continued to be involved with YWAM, on short-term mission trips, training schools, or summer service programs. I also continued to work with outreach teams that came to Egypt; I helped out with translation, and being a guide for them.
I started to feel that God wanted me to play a bigger role in Egypt, so I joined different ministries with my church, including leading a small group. My biggest struggle was that I knew God wanted me in Egypt, but at the same time I loved traveling, so how to balance the two?!
My involvement with YWAM quenched this desire for travel and the desire to know God more. As I grow in my relationship with Him and He continues to reveal new things to me about life, people, and myself, I am further compelled to serve Him and share His love with people around me.
It’s always a struggle to serve God outside the premises of a church in Egypt, but due to these recent events, a lot is changing, including the status of Christians in Egypt.
My pastor and several leaders from the church led worship, prayer and gave a short message in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypt. Thousands of Muslims were present, waving flags and cheering along to what was being said. I believe God is opening the door wide open for us to step out in boldness and begin sharing the Gospel.
Our pastor is already taking advantage of this time of unity and somewhat distraction to fulfill God’s plan for Egypt. Last Wednesday, Feb. 16, he invited some of the youth who started this revolution, also known as the Jan.25 youth, the parents of the martyrs who died during this crisis, and authority figures in the police force to our church.
In an evening of worship and sharing our experiences our church was able to welcome Muslims from all over Egypt and send them a message that we care, and we want there to be cooperation and grace among each other. It was a wonderful gesture, and I believe it has affected many Muslims.
I hope we can continue to do such things until people would really sense that there is something different about us and strive to know God through that. I know that God wants me in Egypt at this time and I know there’s a reason for that; I hope that He would make it clearer exactly what He wants me to do, and how He wants me to contribute during this time of great change.
God has really blessed me with a wonderful family who loves and serves Him. Although my father is not yet a Christian, he is loving and kind and continues to stand by us. We are constantly praying and believing that He will come to Christ.
I continue to pray that God would open my eyes to the needs of the people around me as I continue to grow in my relationship with Him and with others.
Lucy Shafik was raised in a Christian family, but her relationship with God became deeper and more personal when she took part in YWAM’s Discipleship Training School in Denver in 2005. She has lived in Egypt her entire life, but travels regularly, usually on mission trips or training schools with YWAM. She attends Kasr El Doubara, Evangelical church, which is located in downtown Cairo, and is leading a small group at the church. Lucy is a 2010 graduate from the American University in Cairo with a degree in Journalism.