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January 18, 2013

Cairo Native Yacoub Plans Long Ministry Career in Egypt

Cairo Native Yacoub Plans Long Ministry Career in Egypt

Adapting to a foreign culture may be a barrier to success for some people. But it hasn’t stopped Youssef Yacoub, and it doesn’t look like it will any time soon.

Born and raised in Cairo, Egypt, the 24-year-old Summit grad is preparing for an intense ministry in his native Egypt — a major hub of the rapidly changing and unstable Arab Spring. Youssef plans to support himself as a dentist, but for the next few months he’ll be studying at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, learning under such heavyweights as Ravi Zacharias, Os Guiness, and Alister McGrath among others. “In a sense I owe Summit for being [at Oxford] today,” Yacoub reflected. “If it wasn’t for the passion Summit planted in my heart, I wouldn’t be here getting the privilege of being taught by the best.”

Yacoub has been involved in ministry work in Cairo his whole life. His father was once an itinerant evangelist who ten years ago started carrying Focus on the Family materials in addition to the resources he was already providing Christians in Egypt. Eight years ago he added a printing press to his office, so Yacoub has helped translate, edit, and print materials intended for Christians in Cairo. He and his family also facilitate some programs and studies they think are applicable to Christians in Egypt.

Yacoub heard about Summit through Focus on the Family, and he attended his first Summit program in 2004 when he was 15 years old. He admits his first week in Colorado was difficult, as he acclimated to a whole new culture, and one that didn’t necessarily fit the American stereotype he had seen in Egypt. But his second week in Manitou Springs changed his life. “I was blessed both by the learning there and the privilege to meet a lot of teachers, especially Michael Bauman,” he said. “He would crush us in debates. And then I would go back for a whole year and try to research the questions I failed to answer.”

Yacoub returned to Summit two more summers as both a student and staffer. After returning to Cairo, he practiced the teaching techniques he learned at Summit with a youth group he led there.

Equipped with his Summit experience, he earned a university degree in Cairo and began his apologetics study at Oxford earlier this fall. Once he finishes that program in the spring, he plans to earn a master’s degree in dentistry either from a school in the U.S. or back in Egypt. Then, he hopes to combine Christian ministry with his dental profession. “In Egypt, the concept of full-time ministry isn’t as common as in the West,” he explained. “It’s seen as a cop-out. You need a career to support yourself financially.”

With so much instability in the Middle East as the Arab Spring continues, political, social, and economic conditions for Egypt’s future remain cloudy, Yacoub said. It’s still unclear how Egypt’s new President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood will govern the country, though recent news indicates it may be more totalitarian than not.

Even so, Yacoub encouraged Western Christians not to be pessimistic about the work of the Gospel there. “Christians in Egypt need to put themselves in the mindset that the years to come will offer a great challenge on the one hand, but great opportunity on the other,” he said. “It might require some sacrifice. I’m driven by a passion now to be even more committed to my country and not just run away.”

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