I am a single mother of an 8-year-old girl named Candy. I have provided counseling and psychological support for 7 years. Prior to that, I was a speech therapist. I’ve worked in a university setting and in local and international organizations. In all these sectors, my aim has always been to support people and invest in their lives.
Currently, I live and serve with The Community (TC) in Alexandria, Egypt. I am responsible for the department offering services for women. These include individual counseling sessions, group therapy, and workshops on issues like setting boundaries, preventing sexual abuse, expressing feelings, and so on.
My drive to help women came from my own experience. After separating from my husband in 2015, I started studying psychology and counseling. I saw my recovery journey and my knowledge journey as two parallel roads. I was healing from deep brokenness as I was starting to help others.
God took my childhood, my experience, my identity in Christ, and my role as a mother to make something wonderful. I liken it to a feast with a variety of food. One thing on the buffet table is my ministry, which involves serving at-risks children and teenagers in challenging circumstances because of their families or substance abuse.
I first met GTP at the NABLA 4.0 retreat in December 2019. I was serving as board treasurer of an organization and was also invited to attend the “Fundraising for Faithful Administrators – Growing Deeper Retreat” facilitated by Gary Hoag (GTP President & CEO) and Ereny Monir (GTP VP of Training & Empowerment) the following weekend in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
This retreat helped us build a fundraising plan for personal application and professionally assisting others. We studied The Sower and were equipped with templates for fundraising and sustainability that were freshly translated to Arabic.
The Holy Spirit revealed many things to me during this retreat, including the incompatibility of my vision with the vision of the organization I was a part of. Through prayer and discernment, I moved on from that organization.
In addition to the practical training, I received the gift of community. Ereny created a WhatsApp group for The Sharm El-Sheikh cohort to kept in touch and foster sustainable community together. Through this group, we received more coaching, encouraged each other, and watched some members support each other in crisis times. I stayed in touch with Gary and Ereny through personal communication and reading the GTP Journal Entry emails.
A year after the Sharm El-Sheikh retreat, I was invited to attend a follow up retreat in Aswan, Egypt, where we shared how the fundraising training impacted our ministries. We discussed tips we applied and our current challenges. During that time, we also did the Journey of Empowerment (JOE).
Initially, I thought that sharing about myself and childhood would be unremarkable as I had done it before. But when I started sharing at the JOE retreat, I felt something different, something new. I deeply connected with other people. It went beyond knowledge and awareness. JOE inspired all of us as participants to listen actively and gave us a chance to open our hearts and share our thoughts in an authentic way. That made the whole experience more touching and meaningful.
The most memorable part of the JOE retreat was when we put our sins on the board and prayed for each other. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst. I and my fellow participants were deeply impacted by the shared experience. We learned, prayed, cried, laughed, ate, and even danced together when we visited the Nubian village nearby. It was a powerful experience.
I love JOE because it connects spiritual topics with a psychological ribbon. It offers ideas in a way that people can relate to them. That’s why when I was asked if I would like to attend the Training of Trainers (TOT), I immediately said, “Yes! Let’s do it!”
Now I have been a trainer for more than 10 years, as training others is my passion. And I like Gary’s metaphor of the seed which needs to be sowed and nurtured day by day until you see a garden. I wanted to do that, to sow JOE in others to make a garden and spread blessing in the lives of others.
So, I shared JOE with my workmates, and they liked the concept. However, because there were many things happening at work, facilitating it with them did not happen right away. But, in God’s perfect timing, I was in a meeting about an annual church youth camp. The organizers did not have an idea on what to give to the youth. When someone said, “I am dreaming to empower them,” I immediately responded, “ I have the program for that!” This was my chance to facilitate JOE in Arabic!
It was suitable and appropriate for the 70 young women and men aged 18-24 at the camp. The camp venue was not ideal, which made it challenging. Also, the church had limited resources, and some couldn’t continue for various reasons. But in the end, 35 of young adults finished the whole JOE experience.
God worked despite the fact that many of these young women and men came from hard settings. Though our culture might cause many to feel embarrassed to share about the impact of their childhood or vulnerable identity issues, many opened up.
After we read Ezra’s story, which talks about confession, I recall many cried as they prayed, calling out to God to change their lives and asking the Holy Spirit to help them. A lot of them found the courage to confess their sins and change directions. Brokenness turns to blessing with JOE.
I saw the transformational impact in the lives of these young people. Because of that, I want to continue facilitating JOE as part of my ministry. It’s a wonderful combination of deeply biblical ideas and fun group activities that works with all kinds of groups. Just as I have been empowered, I want to continue empowering others.