Maged Gerges: Serving God by Serving Meals
From leaving his home country of Egypt and beginning a new life in the United States, to starting his own cooking TV show and transforming APU’s Dining Hall with his leadership, Maged Gerges embraces change and sees possibilities in the challenges.
While living in Egypt, the country’s political and economic climate weighed heavily on Gerges and his family. He worked three jobs to provide for his wife and young daughter, including running his own contracting business. He describes his family’s decision to move to America as, “our most important life decision. My wife and I didn’t want our children to grow up there,” he said. “Egypt is behind other cultures in its treatment of Christians.”
They continued to endure trials after their move as they struggled to remain in the United States. Faced with the threat of imminent deportation, Gerges remembered an adage his pastor used to say: “Don’t go through pain with a stain.” These words inspired him to remain hopeful and courageous despite his fear. With much prayer and persistence, the family received their green cards only four days before their scheduled deportation.
Things began to look up in 2006 when he went to work for Azusa Pacific. “The food industry can be a hostile and difficult environment,” he said. “Working in food services at APU is a different experience. APU has become a second home to me.”
Gerges' goal is to help students perceive APU as their second home, too. He hopes to leave a lasting impression on both his student employees and the students he serves each day in the Dining Hall. “When students work for me, I create an environment where they are not only making money, but they are preparing for their careers and building relationships,” he said.
In his position as dining hall manager, Gerges works to implement a menu of delicious and healthy food options made from scratch. Under his leadership, The Dining Hall has begun offering fresh fruits and vegetables from locally grown farms. He also seeks to accommodate students with special dietary needs. Last fall, the Dining Hall introduced a wok station—a stir-fry buffet where all foods are gluten free and many options are vegetarian. This year, he aspires to offer consistent dairy and nut-free options that are clearly labeled. “Students shouldn’t have to explain their food restrictions every time they eat,” he said.
Using his culinary skills to minister to others, Gerges hosted a cooking show in Arabic with the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). The show aired throughout the Middle East as a means to share Christian truths in an accessible way. On television, Gerges would explain to his viewers that he sees the Church as a meal where every ingredient is necessary. “Many people in church communities feel that they have nothing to contribute,” he said. “While not all church members are obviously prominent parts of the 'meal', many are the garnish. Without the garnish or the seasoning, the meal is incomplete.”
Gerges plans to revitalize his cooking show within the next few years. For now, he joyfully serves his wife Martha, his daughter Erin, his son Andrew, and the APU community. Whether at his first or his second home, he is living out what it looks like to serve God and serve others.
Posted: September 15, 2016