Faith & Life Story
My name is Joseph Louis. I grew up in upper Egypt in a faithful Christian family that taught me faith since my childhood. I was blessed with amazing parents who reflected God’s love and His true image. My local Church, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Ayoub, had a significant role in shaping my faith, knowing God, encouraging me, and discovering God’s call to my life. Early on during my university study, I realized God’s voice in my life to be a pastor.
But before achieving that, I had a deadly accident on November 3, 2010, that changed myself and everything in my life. I was grateful that God saved me from certain death and gave me another life to follow His call and goodwill to my life. I had to go on several surgeries, but I lost my right leg. It was a time full of doubts and confusion! I remember that I didn’t lose faith, but I lost hope. I thought I would never walk again, and everything was over, especially God’s call for me to be a pastor. In short, during my recovery and the following years, I discovered new deep dimensions about knowing God, myself, and helping others. I thought that the real miracle was only God saving me from that terrible accident. However, God’s formation and shaping my life and personality is the greatest miracle. I experienced God’s love and providence to me. I got my natural life back by using my prosthetic leg. God inspired me through my suffering to help many amputees who passed in similar circumstances. To be empathetic with others’ pain, especially those who lost something precious to their hearts. Since then, I’m helping people with physical disabilities by supporting them not to lose hope in their new challenges in life and get their lives back.
God confirmed his call for me to pastoral ministry when I had been accepted in the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC) to study the M.Div. program in 2012. For me, ETSC is one of the most important stations in my life. It helped me think critically about the ideas and concepts about God and Christian life, in general, to strengthen my faith and confirm God’s call. One of the great principles I learned from ETSC is that learning and spiritual formation are lifetime journeys. I need to be humble before the grace of God and always acknowledge my limits and the need to deepen my relationship with God and myself.
During my ETSC internship in the summer of 2015, I went to a small local church called Garf Sarhan in Assuit. It’s a small presbyterian church since 1925 and the oldest one in the village. I felt God’s call in that Church because they didn’t have a pastor before, and the Church couldn’t afford one. I felt their need for a pastor to be with them. After graduation from ETSC in May 2016, I accepted God’s call to serve in Garf Sarhan Church with joy. I was the first ordained pastor in the history of the Church in 1925. Although it was challenging to start my ministry in a church with poor capabilities, I was grateful to God for the work he entrusted to me. For more than five years in Garf Sarhan church, I have been blessed beyond measure! I was amazed by how God could use our limited possibilities for great things to build His kingdom despite all the challenges. During my ministry in Garf Sarhan, God blessed me with a great wife, Enas, and two beautiful daughters Lily and Lora. Besides magnificent pastoral experiences and stories that witnessed God’s love and goodness. Despite it being five short years of pastoral ministry, it changed and influenced me before my congregation.
On August 1, 2021. ETSC invited me to join the seminary faculty as a full-time teaching assistant in pastoral care and counseling. It was a massive shift for me to move from the pastoral ministry to the academic field. God’s call to be in ETSC was surprising for my family and me; I didn’t think about it before. But I figured out that God was preparing me for a long time for that mission. Being in ETSC in such a position is no easy task. It is a big responsibility to be in one of the Middle East’s ancient theological institutions since 1863, with more than 500 hundred students currently studying in different programs. It’s a great honor to play a role in preparing the future leaders of the Church.
Church Positions / Service
List of Courses I Teach
I would like to research pastoral issues that represent a real need for the Church and topics related to disability theology. I’m interested in that area of study for several reasons.
1. We don’t have enough materials dealing with disability issues from a theological perspective. For example, it’s difficult to find any reference in our Arabic Christian library that deals with this type of issue.
2. Lack of awareness of people with disabilities rights and empowerment of them in society. The general situation in our Egyptian society is also reflected in the Church. There is a crucial need to address these issues in a pastoral manner to church leaders and pastors and pay attention to the problems that concern people with disabilities. The Church needs to be a prophetic voice to protect the rights of people with disabilities and not marginalize their role and capabilities.
3. There are different forms of spiritual abuse that people with disabilities are exposed to by the church leaders, which needs to be expressed to its harmful effects.
4. My experience as a person with a disability made me see many things that I didn’t realize before when I was without a physical disability. My work with people with disabilities and being a pastor helped me share their suffering in issues that concern them and be close to their worries.
5. Some persons with disabilities grow up in a family atmosphere and community that makes them feel abandoned and not loved enough. It is harsh for a person with a disability to feel abandoned, lack love, and injustice from the society in his life. Not only that but the most challenging is to live all life with a feeling of bitterness toward God. There are many spiritual issues facing people with disabilities that need to be discussed.
Disability issues can be addressed from many areas of study and perspectives.
There are many biblical texts and stories used negatively and sometimes abuse people with disabilities in many sermons like the story of David and Mephibosheth. We need to understand these texts to not conflict with our respect for people with disabilities. The question is, how can we apply and understand these scripture texts in our world today? We should even reconsider Bible translations that use the vocabulary we consider inappropriate today to describe people with disabilities. The language and words we use to describe people with disabilities reflect our thoughts and beliefs about them. That’s why words must be chosen well in our reading of Bible stories, teaching, and preaching we give.
The problem of pain for people with disabilities is a central issue that represents a massive spiritual crisis. The first thing that people with disabilities do about their questions is direct their eyes to God. For them, He is the One in control of everything. They ask, “how is my disability God’s will for me?” When they do not receive any answer to their pain, they feel hopeless and disappointed in God, leaving them with a feeling of oppression and bitterness. We need to discuss disability theology from the perspective of people with disabilities’ questions and concerns.
3. Pastoral Care
We need to prepare the church leaders and pastors to provide support and counseling to people with disabilities and help pastors build skills to shepherd them. In addition, understanding disability and avoiding disability abuse.
4. Christian Education
We could discuss disability with the help of Christian education principles and discipline to be inclusive to children with special needs in Sunday schools, achieve integration among all children, and teach them how to communicate and respect each other.
We need to have policies approaching people with disabilities to prevent discrimination and emphasize diversity within the Church.