The highest-profile Protestant Evangelical Christian leader in the Arab world has contracted the coronavirus, along with his entire family, ALL ARAB NEWS has learned.

Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki, 60, is president of the association of Protestant churches in Egypt.

He and his family of five were diagnosed with COVID-19 two weeks ago.

Based in Cairo, Zaki is also the General Director of the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS), a vitally important Christian humanitarian relief organization in the world’s largest Arab country.

There are an estimated 2 million Protestants in Egypt, making it the largest Evangelical Christian community of its kind in the Arab world.

Please pray for Dr. Zaki and his family for a full and speedy recovery, and for the Lord to use the next season of his life to minister even more effectively to his nation.

Please pray, too, for the entire Christian community in Egypt — an estimated 17 million people — and for all Egyptians. They are facing many serious challenges this year due to COVID and its economic effects on jobs and wages.

Some 6,099 Egyptians have died from the coronavirus in recent months.

There have been more than 105,000 cases throughout the country. Fortunately, most Egyptians have recovered, and the infection rate has been dropping steadily in recent weeks.

Dr. Andrea Zaki (center in purple shirt and clerical collar) participated in the first-ever Evangelical delegation meeting with Egyptian President el-Sisi in November 2017. (photo credit: Presidential Palace)

 

In an email interview with ALL ARAB NEWS, Zaki told me that he and his family have not had to be hospitalized, but have taken care to isolate themselves at home.

ROSENBERG: Brother, I am so sorry to hear that you have contracted the coronavirus. How many in your family have the virus?

DR. ZAKI: All of my family have it — my wife and my three children.

ROSENBERG: How are you all feeling at the moment?

DR. ZAKI: We are now much better and gradually improving. The symptoms we have had were sore throats, coughing, fevers — 37.8 degrees Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit) at their maximum — and muscle pain. Some of us lost the sense of taste and smelling. One day also my wife, Hala — her oxygen rate went down and she needed some more oxygen. But she is fine now, thank God.

ROSENBERG: What are the Scripture verses that have been most comforting and encouraging to you during this time?

DR. ZAKI: “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” (Revelation 3:10)

ROSENBERG: How can we be praying for you and your family this week?

DR. ZAKI: Next week, we will do the second [COVID] test and we’re praying that God will complete our healing process and that the result will be negative so we may resume our normal lives.

ROSENBERG: Are you hearing of other pastors and ministry leaders throughout Egypt who have contracted COVID?

DR. ZAKI: Yes, there have been others. Most of them were healed. Sadly, in a few cases, some of them have died. But overall the Christian community here in Egypt is being careful.

ROSENBERG: How can Christians all over the world be praying for the Christians of Egypt, and for all Egyptians these days?

DR. ZAKI: Prayers are needed so that our Lord may protect Egypt from COVID-19 and all of its impact, and for the safety of the country, and to strengthen all who are in leadership and who hold responsibility for the country affairs.

For a nation of some 100 million people, Egypt has actually fared quite well overall, health-wise.

Economically, the challenges have been more difficult.

Unemployment in Egypt hit 9.6% in August — a 2-year high.

The economy was expected to grow around 5.5% this year. Now, projections put growth in 2020 at between 2% and 3%.

However, as Egypt’s recovers from the pandemic and the economy reopens, some analysts believe the GDP could grow at upwards of 5% in 2021. This is due, in part, to major infrastructure building programs now underway, including the continuing development of the New Administrative Capital, a massive new city being built from scratch outside of Cairo.

Dr. Zaki and I first met in person in May 2017.

That month, I flew from Israel to Cairo to brief him on my first meeting (the previous month) with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Washington.

I wanted Zaki to know that Sisi had invited me to bring the first-ever delegation of American Evangelical Christians to meet with him and other senior Egyptian officials. I also wanted to pray with Zaki about how the delegation could most benefit the followers of Jesus in Egypt, as well as to coordinate the details of the visit with him and with Pope Tawadros II, the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Christians, of which there are an estimated 15 million members.

When the Evangelical delegation arrived in November 2017, Dr. Zaki was with us at the presidential palace in Heliopolis, a suburb of Cairo. We met with President Sisi for nearly 3 hours.

The following year, in November 2018, I flew directly from Riyadh to Cairo to brief Pope Tawadros and Dr. Zaki on our delegation’s meetings with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. We prayed together for those leaders and for the strengthening of the Christians in those countries.

When President Sisi invited me to bring a second delegation of Evangelicals in January 2019 to attend the opening of the largest church cathedral ever built in the Middle East, Dr. Zaki was again our host and guide, coordinated all the details of our visit, including a meeting for the entire delegation with Pope Tawadros for a briefing on the latest prayer needs for Egyptian Christians.

Over these years, I have gained a great deal of respect for Dr. Zaki and for the role he plays in encouraging the Protestant Christians of Egypt, his close and respectful relations he has with the Coptic Orthodox leadership and with Muslim leaders, and for all he does to care for the poor and needy and to advance more religious freedom and protection for the entire Christian community.

After receiving his Bachelor of Theology from Cairo Evangelical Seminary in 1983, Zaki went to Coady International Institute, St. Francis Xavier University, in Nova Scotia, Canada. There he continued his studies, receiving a Diploma in Social Development in 1988.

In 1994, Zaki received a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, majoring in social change, at Eastern University, Pennsylvania, US.

In 2003 he received his Ph.D. in Religions and Theology at the University of Manchester in Great Britain.

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