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Seattle Pacific Seminary

With a unique model of theological education called “Academy, Abbey, Apostolate,” Seattle Pacific Seminary equips students for ministry in the 21st century.

The World Acting Globally

Seminary Student Puts Church-Planting
Knowledge to Work

World Studies

By Hope McPherson ( | Photo by Garland Cary


In Cairo in 2010, Egyptian pharmacist Hany Estmalek met two student groups from Seattle Pacific University: undergraduates on a Seattle Pacific Reachout International (SPRINT) trip, working with the area’s poor; and Seattle Pacific Seminary students taking a cross-cultural immersion course. Both groups worked with Impact Middle East, a ministry that Estmalek serves.

“The undergraduate students were a fun group and well educated,” he recalls. “And I really fell in love with the seminary group.” Already planning to further his theological education, Estmalek was intrigued by SPU. By 2014, he had made it to campus.

Estmalek had already helped plant 50 house churches in Egypt with Impact Middle East between 2011 and 2014. Each, he says, includes eight to 20 people. “House churches were God’s answer to our prayers,” he says. “It was all God’s provision.” Formal churches, he explains, are not allowed to open in Egypt. “Lots of Muslims are thirsty to know more about Jesus Christ, but they are afraid. Islam does not tolerate switching.”

Now in his second year of the Seminary’s master of arts in Christian leadership program, he intends to return to Egypt when he graduates. “Seminary is definitely equipping me to train our church planters and create curriculum and strategies,” he says.

Today, Estmalek is only one of several international students at Seattle Pacific Seminary. In addition to Egypt, SPS seminarians have come from Kenya, India, China, Colombia, Korea, Canada, Ukraine, and the Congo.

“We learn as much from Hany and our other international students as they learn from us,” says Douglas Strong, dean of the School of Theology. “We learn what it’s like being part of the persecuted faith, and they bring their perspective on social issues.”

While Estmalek was raised in El Minia, a northern city in the predominately Muslim country of Egypt, his family traces its Christian heritage back to the first century, when Jesus’ disciple Mark brought the gospel to Egypt.

When Estmalek was a child, his Free Methodist mother encouraged him, two older sisters, and his father to attend church regularly and to memorize Scripture. He can now recite the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s gospel, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 Timothy, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, and 1, 2, and 3 John. Having Scripture memorized, he says, helped him share the gospel at the pharmacy in which he worked.

Working at the pharmacy, based in the upper-class Cairo district of Heliopolis, allowed him to develop relationships with customers, sharing tea and the gospel. In 2008, Estmalek met Blake Wood, founder and former director of Impact Middle East who now pastors Seattle’s First Free Methodist Church.

“It has been a great joy to have Hany be part of the FFMC faith family this year,” says Wood. “He has helped many of us better understand the suffering, yet vibrant, church in the Middle East.”

In September 2015, Estmalek even led six church members to Egypt, where they worked with 55 church planters. “They ministered to us as much as we ministered to them,” he says. He continues to help the Seattle church work with Muslim refugees in the greater Seattle area.

“God is shaking the nations, bringing thousands of refugees to our backyard,” he says. “The mission field is not just overseas any more — and God is inviting us to be part of his work.”