Arab Baptst Theological Seminary ّة اللهوت المعمدانية العربية كلي www.abtslebanon.org March 2020 Partner with us .blog Subscribe to our newsletter Each day comes with new choices. Being able to identfy God’s unique calling for each of us depends on whether our will is fully immersed in His in our constant deAision-making process. We endeavor to make our students’ experience as personalized as possible. One of the ways we do that is through ofering electves that touch on various facets of life and ministry. For this reason, visitng faculty recently came from diferent parts of the world to ofer our second and third year students their electve courses. Sufering and Persecuton taught by Bernhard Reitsma Bernhard is a professor at the VU (Free University – Amsterdam). He supervises a number of students, two of which are currently serving in Lebanon. Why does a good God allow people to sufer? Specifcally, why does He allow His followers to sufer? If Church leaders want to be equipped for ministry, they need to relate to God in the midst of sufering and help others do that too. “I tried to have students share their own story and relate that to a biblical thinking about sufering and persecuton,” Bernhard This week we had to make the decision of sending our residental students back home and contnuing the academic year online. This was not an easy decision to make, as we did not want to be reactve out of unfounded fear. However, we came to the conclusion that this is the responsible thing to do. Our students live in close proximity in our dorm building, and the healthcare system in Lebanon is under-prepared and over-stretched. In additon, with the quickly increasing travel restrictons, this decision could not be delayed. Obviously, this decision was as difcult for our students as it was for us. On the positve side, we are thankful that we had been developing our online platorm. We now have the ability to switch from in-class to online instructon with reasonable efort and without compromising quality. This will also help accelerate our eforts in developing a complete theological degree online. We contnue to trust God as we strive to be faithful to His calling, and we are grateful for the way He has been preparing us for a tme like this. We contnue to be commited to the formaton of our students, leaders in the Arab church, and we will contnue to support their living expenses at home as we had done during their tme here so that they can focus on their educaton and training under very challenging circumstances. COVID-19 is a pandemic afectng communites globally. We pray for you and for all our friends and partners as you face difcult decisions in your own ministries and communites. We cherish your prayers for our community. Elie Haddad, President Partner with us .blog Subscribe to our newsletter ABTS Newsletter March 2020 shares, “We have been doing this in class a lot, and it has been intense. The stories are very deep; they show incredible pain. Some people have been in the war in Syria; some had sickness in the family; some experienced persecuton. God does not measure the weight of your sufering. He simply sees every tear you shed and collects them all in His botle.” He explains about a framework for understanding sufering, “The tendency in our world is to run away from sufering. In this tme of our life, God sometmes takes us through sufering to be glorifed with Christ. That is a difcult message to understand. It is not because God wants us to sufer, but He works within sufering for the good of the world.” Many students were overcome with emoton as they lef the class due to the intensity of the experience. Yaser from Syria shares, “We learned that when we share in Christ’s suferings, we will also share in His glory. This course is vital to those who come from war-torn countries such as Syria or Iraq. The course helped me to see that the Lord is with us within persecuton and pain. He does not forsake us.” Encountering God taught by Jim Purves Jim serves as the Mission and Ministry Advisor for the Baptst Union of Scotland. He works with 163 churches that are within the union, supportng the pastors and also the development of mission and ministry. What are we to expect in our personal experience of God? This course aims to help students relate their personal experience with God, His commands and the communites around them to clear, Scriptural themes. Students looked at key biblical passages and refected on central, theological convictons regarding an experience of God and expressing it through their personal lives and congregatonal contexts. “It is possible to do theological studies abstracted from the ongoing Christan life. It is easy to compartmentalize life, but it is not always good to do so,” Jim shares, “That is why I get students to refect on the relatonship between their theological educaton and their walk with the Lord. My prayer is that God will contnue to use ABTS for His glory and to build up good leaders for the Arabic speaking world.” Rafed from Syria also shares, “The course gave us valuable informaton on the Persons of the Trinity. We were able to refect on God’s atributes and His work around us and in us. We also got to share our personal testmonies with God.” The Book of Isaiah taught by David Baer David Baer teaches in the Biblical Seminary of Colombia and is the Director of Theological Educaton Initatve. He mentors and coaches people who have a calling to teach in seminaries. The book of Isaiah is among the three most frequently quoted books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in the Qumran literature and the New Testament. In our day, its lyrical message orients and organizes the Church’s servant-shaped witness and its longing that the Lord’s justce be heard as good news among all the natons. “Isaiah is a fascinatng book,” David shares, “Justce and mercy is a recurrent theme. In a way, justce is not punishment. It is reordering a chaotc situaton so everyone in it can thrive. God has to move the powerful aside so the less powerful can thrive.” As to his experience teaching in class, he shares, Partner with us .blog Subscribe to our newsletter ABTS Newsletter March 2020 ABTS students are thoughtul and intelligent. My excitement is met by their excitement; it is terrible to teach sleepy people. I have not been to Sudan or Morocco, but through the students, I can imagine their context. I have no idea how God will use them, but we make our contributon and entrust them to the Lord. Our student Elia from Sudan shares his experience, “The course gave us a methodology on how to study the text as thoroughly as possible. I enjoyed looking at the theme of Babylonian exile and return from exile in the book. It made me think of communal hurt in the region and the role of the Church.” Premarital Counselling taught by Smyrna Khalaf Smyrna Khalaf is a Marriage and Family counselor and an ABTS Board of Trustees member. This electve aims to help students understand the basic principles of marital relatonships. It also ofers premarital counselling skills. Smyrna shares how her course serves the students saying, “Whenever leaders start a ministry, they are faced with certain situatons and questons related to people’s behaviors and feelings, so the need for counselling arises. A ministry leader should be well trained to ofer wise counsel when tackling psychological problems. It is the lives of people, afer all, that students will work with, not just books and ideas.” Our student Susanna from Sudan shared, I enjoy counselling courses because of my background in psychology. We learned to work hard to understand our diferent backgrounds and to respect boundaries. We learned not to set high expectatons and to lay out everything in the open before making a lifelong commitment. In our Arab countries, premarital counselling is not common, so I would like to work with soon-to-be married couples when I get back to Sudan. Interpretaton of First Peter taught by Dustn Ellington Dustn Ellington is an Associate Professor of New Testament at Justo Mwale University in Zambia. He has been there for nearly ten years. He also was a New Testament professor at the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Cairo for fve years. In preparaton for Christan life and ministry, this course has two main purposes. The course equips students with skills for indepth interpretaton of an epistle from the New Testament, using First Peter, so they can equip others to do so as well. The course also guides students to a close and living relatonship with the leter for the sake of preaching and teaching in their own contexts. Dustn shares about his experience saying, “Students asked honest questons about their backgrounds and their ministries in light of what the text is bringing up. Real interpretaton has to be honest. It deals with questons we have, not just questons asked in the past.” While taking the course, Abukanidy from Sudan was able to read First Peter several tmes. He was then able to apply it to a Sudanese context. He says, Peter was originally writng the leter to scatered believers due to persecuton. Similarly, many Sudanese were internally displaced due to war and confict. In fact, many of my local church members are internally displaced and feel like foreigners. Peter calls the believers “foreigners” in chapter 2 and does not only urge them to abstain from sinful desires but to live good lives among non-believers so they may see their good deeds and glorify God. As I studied the leter, I thought of the message I have for my people. Finally, Dustn asks for prayer for theological educaton happening all over the world, specifcally in places that are strategic and in need of trained local leaders. Through our electves, we provide students with a holistc approach that balances between the afectve, behavioral and cognitve dimensions of learning. They are beter prepared to feel, act and think like Jesus as they develop into future leaders of the Arab world. ABTS is a ministry of the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development(LSESD). ABTS and LSESD benefit from the support of MEBO, a 501(c)(3) corporation based in Atlanta, GA, that coordinates efforts among our US friends. ABTS Newsletter March 2020 Pray with Us: Prayer Requests from Second-Year Students Susanna | Sudan Pray that God breaks the barrier between Church and society in Sudan. Pray that He grants peace to the Sudanese people and the freedom for all to practce their faith. It is stll difcult to serve God in some areas of the country. Pray that He raises up more servants because the need is great. Pray for my husband and me to press on despite the challenges of ministry in Sudan, and to take hold of every opportunity even as we study. Elissar | Lebanon I am now serving with a newly established ministry that focuses on leadership training, church plantng, peacebuilding and reconciliaton, and advocatng women’s rights. I ask you to pray for this ministry. Student from Morocco Pray that the Lord opens up new opportunites of ministry in Morocco. Also, pray for Lebanon and for the difcult tme it is going through. Yaser | Syria I ask you to pray for Syria. Pray that the situaton there becomes beter. Recently, there have been some skirmishes happening between the Turks and the Russians. Pray that this does not escalate. Pray for my family and my ministry. Pray that the Lord guides me as I serve. Also, pray for my sister, and my wife’s family to know the Lord. Zeinab | Syria I ask you to pray for our ministry here and our graduaton. Pray for my parents and my husbands’ parents who are stll in Syria. Pray that they come to the Lord and fnd salvaton in Him. Elsadig | Sudan Pray for my country Sudan and for the ministry I will carry out there. Part of my ministry will include seminars, revivals, youth events and other administratve work at my local church. Pray also that I might manage my tme efectvely so I can fulfl all my academic responsibilites. May I learn lessons of perseverance and endurance as I step closer toward the end of this training period. Niyazi | Sudan I pray the Lord sends more theologically trained students to the Church in Sudan because of the urgent need. The Sudanese church is big, and there are not enough equipped leaders. Amin | Sudan Pray for my two brothers who are distant from the Lord. Pray for Sudan, that the country might know peace at last. I feel that this is the tme for us to be ministering there, as the politcal situaton is changing. Pray that the Lord creates opportunites for ministry in Sudan so that we contnue to move towards change and towards making the country beter. Pray for ABTS, Lebanon and for Sudan While Lebanon and the world wrestles with the Corona virus, the Lebanese economic situaton contnues to be on the brink of collapse. Things have not improved neither for insttutons nor for individuals. Stll, the new government has not put forward an economic rescue plan. In the midst of all this, pray that we at ABTS do not respond through fear but in accordance to God’s will. Pray for the Church in Lebanon to fx its eyes on Him who is Sovereign so that we are moved with His compassion to help others pass through the crises while modelling to them a Christ-like attude. We also ask you to pray for Sudan and the Sudanese Church. Last week there was an atempt to assassinate the Sudanese Prime Minister as the country passes through a period of change. Pray for God’s kingdom to spread in Sudan and for freedom and justce to become the new reality in the country. Subscribe and Read Our Weekly Blog Posts: .blog Read Recent Blog Posts: Church as a Pioneering Community From Divine Justfcaton to Human Justce Aristotle, Accad and Golden Means to Christan-Muslim Interacton