Last Sunday I preached at my “local Church”. The Roman Catholic Basilica is actually less than five minutes’ walk from my home. Each year, for the past 22 years I have preached at that Basilica on the occasion of the annual Bible Society Sunday. I usually preach at both their Arabic and French service but today there was a visiting Bishop and I only spoke at the French service though I attended both.
Worshipping at the Basilica is a very wonderful experience. That enormous building was built in 1905 by the founder of the modern city of Heliopolis, Baron Empain, (he is buried in a crypt under the altar). As a young child I would often ride my bicycle by that Church and was amazed by its architecture. In my wildest dreams it would never have occurred to me – as a young teenager destined to be the heir of my grandfather’s industrial empire – that I would one day be preaching at the Basilica. In my autograph book, my grandfather wrote the following: “we called you Ramez and look forward to see what you will represent” (“Ramez” in Arabic means symbol of or representative). It would never have occurred to my grandfather nor to my parents that I would someday be involved in representing the Bible to the churches in Egypt. This is clearly my identity today and is what I am most known for.
As I walked home from the Basilica I realized that I take too much for granted the great privilege it is to speak and preach at so many different churches in Egypt. I am probably the only non-Catholic who has ever preached at one of their services and certainly feel welcomed and loved each time I do so. To God be the Praise!