The Christian Arabic Church - Richmond, Virginia
الكنيسة الإنجيلية العربية - ريتشموند، فرجينيا
After celebrating the Easter worship service in April 1990, a small group of people from Egypt went out of Christ Presbyterian church in Richmond that breezy Sunday morning to the house of Elder Wasef Elsakr and his wife Folla. The group spent some time in prayer and fellowship to remember and celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. After that first gathering the group decided to have a regular prayer meeting at the house of Elder Wasef Elsakr and his wife. That was the beginning of the Arabic Christian Fellowship in Richmond, Virginia.
In 1992 Rev. Rafaat Girgis came from Egypt to study at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond and he quickly got acquainted with the group and started to lead them in worship and Bible study. The group started to grow in number, so in 1993 the started to meet at the chapel of Ginter Park Presbyterian Church on Sunday nights. In the same year, the relationship was established between the fellowship and the Presbytery of the James. The Fellowship and its leaders were among those Middle Eastern Presbyterians who started the Middle East Caucus of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1995.
In the beginning of 1996, Rev. Girgis accepted a call to pastor two Presbyterian churches in North Carolina. In March of that year Rev. Girgis met with Rev. Fakhri Yacoub in Cairo during a short visit to Egypt and called him to come and serve the Arabic Christian Fellowship in Richmond.
In October 1996 Rev. Yacoub was married to Taragy S. Boules. The couple got their immigration visas and came to the USA in November 4, 1996. At this time the fellowship give them a salary. The only income they got was $833 from the Presbytery of the James. Because of the circumstances, Rev. Fakhri Yacoub and his wife could not afford to live in Richmond. They lived for four months with Rev. Girgis and his family in North Carolina where Rev. Girgis was a pastor. The two families continued to drive every Sunday afternoon back and forth to Richmond; the distance was about 175 miles. After four months and in March 1997 the Rev. Fakhri and Taragy Yacoub were able to move to their own place, not yet located in Richmond. It was an affordable apartment in Greenville, NC; two and a half hours from Richmond.
During the same month they received a precious gift, it was a 1989 Dodge vehicle. The car was given to them by Mrs. Flo Sthreshly, a former missionary to Congo, Africa. Until this point Rev. Rafaat Girgis was helping them to go back and forth between North Carolina and Virginia.
In May 1997 they received and hosted the first immigrant family to come from Egypt. It was the Basalious family; Hamada, his wife Amany, and their children Martina and Abram. From that experience they started to learn and gain experience on how to receive new immigrant families. In December 29, 1997 Rev. Fakhri and Taragy Yacoub had their first child, they named her Emily. Two weeks later, the three of them resumed the weekly trip to serve the Arabic Congregation in Richmond. Pastoral and hospital visitation were made during the week when needed. During this time Rev. Yacoub passed the Presbyterian Church USA Ordinations Exams and was accepted a member at large at the Presbytery of New Hope in North Carolina. In September 1998, Fakhri joined The Union Theological Seminary and The Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond Virginia to study for his Master of Arts in Christian Education.