COVID-19 / ABTS Updates and Related Information

July 27, 2020

Our residential students are on their way home now that travel restrictions are lifted. They will continue their education online as they serve their people. We commit them into the Lordโ€™s hands knowing that He is always with them. Please keep them in your prayers that they may be useful vessels in service of our great King and make a difference in their communities.
July 23, 2020

Middle East Conversations 2020 Webinar Report: COVID-19 and Theological Education in the Middle Eastern Context: Between Mounting Challenges and Emerging Opportunities

Within the dynamic context of the Middle East, challenges facing theological education are uniquely complex, and the pandemic has only intensified ongoing challenges. Thinking critically about this consequential moment is the pulse of the conversation between Elie Haddad, Hani Hanna, Martin Accad, and Stephanie Black during the second webinar in the Middle East Conversations 2020 series on 16 July: COVID-19 and Theological Education in the Middle Eastern Context: Between Mounting Challenges and Emerging Opportunities.

Read the report here.
July 22, 2020

Can we translate Christian-Muslim friendship into practical action? Can faith communities overcome their differences in times of crisis and collaborate for the sake of humanity? Those questions were answered practically by members of the Friendship Network, a peacebuilding initiative of the Institute of Middle East Studies that seeks to activate the role of faith communities in working towards the common good. This gesture of love was implemented in Tripoli on the 15th of July when members of our IMES team, a Christian clergyman, and a Muslim sheikh jointly distributed food parcels to the most-needy families within their respective communities. The parcels were donated by the religious actors of the Friendship Network as an act of interreligious solidarity. This was a beautiful enactment of the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Learn more about our Peacebuilding Initiatives here
July 17, 2020

An appreciation post to all those working behind the scenes to make our Middle East Conversations 2020 happen!

Yesterday, during our second webinar, an interesting conversation took place regarding ๐˜Š๐˜–๐˜๐˜๐˜‹-19 ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜จ๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ญ ๐˜Œ๐˜ฅ๐˜ถ๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜”๐˜ช๐˜ฅ๐˜ฅ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ ๐˜Œ๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฏ ๐˜Š๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜น๐˜ต. A concise report will be out soon! Do you want to know more?

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July 16, 2020

"COVID-19, on top of a chain of crises in Lebanon, propelled the leadership team and faculty to think strategically about the current status-quo and the next step in fulfilling ABTSโ€™s mission. The team is looking back with gratitude and appreciation for a 60-year legacy in the field of theological education in a full-time residential form but stepping toward a new operational framework (modified) that is emerging out of the current crises, the rapid advancement of technology, and more importantly, the need of ministry workers to study theology."

Read this story update, written by Walid Zailaa here.
Wading Through the Challenges Toward a New Operational Framework (2)
July 15, 2020

Our July newsletter is out!

'Beyond the Classroom Setting', our residential students are taking their courses online. Read more about this, and join us in prayer for some of our online students as well.

We also invite you to read about our first webinar as part of our Middle East Conversations 2020!

Read our July Newsletter here
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July 14, 2020

Yaser, our second-year student from Syria, shared with us how he has adjusted to studying online at ABTS. โ€œThrough the changing circumstances, the Lord has given me and my family new opportunities for ministry. Now that I am taking my courses online, I have more time for ministry and for my family.Getting used to online learning was a bit difficult at first, but now that Iโ€™m familiar with the new platform, I can see its benefits.

โ€œMy wife and I are part of the relief committee at church, and amid the crises troubling the region, the need is greater than ever. We spend most of our day delivering supplies, and praying with the families who are open for prayer. The people we help say they see the Lord through our ministry, and that alone is enough to sustain us throughout the day. I pray that the Lord stands by all the people impacted by these difficult times, especially in Lebanon, and I ask you to pray for my ministry and for my children.โ€

For more prayer requests, click here.
July 10, 2020

MRel students and faculty recently participated in a virtual residency during the current โ€˜Cultural Analysis in the Context of Middle East and North Africaโ€™ module. It was a new experience for all, but the opportunity to learn and connect remotely proved meaningful. One highlight was the chance for students to participate in sessions with leading thinkers and practitioners who logged in from around the world to share on topics of culture and mission.

We are grateful that the MRel could continue in this online format during the pandemic, and we pray that weโ€™ll be able to resume residencies in Lebanon again in future modules!

To learn more about our Master of Religion program, click here.
July 8, 2020

โ€œThe knowledge that God has made us stewards over everything we have was life changing. My husband and I came to regret all the time that had gone to waste, but in this revelation and conviction, we saw the hope of a new start โ€“ of learning to manage our time well so as not to lose any opportunity to be faithful stewards."

Susanna and her husband, Youssef, made use of their time counseling a group of Sudanese married couples online during lockdown. Sharing marital concerns openly is uncommon in Sudan, but the need for counselling is great, so Youssef and Susanna hope to focus on that when they return home.

Read more about our studentsโ€™ current ministries and how online residential courses are still as effective and transformative as they had been in a classroom setting in our July newsletter, coming out on the 15th. Stay tuned!
July 7, 2020

Our second-year student Amin shared with us his feelings now that his time in Lebanon is coming to an end. โ€œI have been struggling a bit over the past couple of weeks with feelings of anxiety and stress. I am worried about my family back home, my wife and my kids. It feels like the world has taken a momentary pause, and in this time, I cannot help but feel a bit helpless. During this time of pause, however, I have felt moved to sit in the Lordโ€™s presence and learn to be thankful. I am grateful to the Lord for taking care of my family while I have been here at the Seminary, and I am looking to the day when I can be with them again and take care of them.โ€

Now that several airports in the region have opened, we are working to ensure our students safe passage back to their countries, families, and communities, whom they miss very much. Pray with us for Godโ€™s provision and guidance for the near return of our students to their homes.
July 6, 2020

We began our week with a time of prayer and devotion as part of our daily staff chapel. We are excited to gather again to hear from God as we read, pray, and encourage one another.

Our time today focused on us being salt and light to others in these dire times. May we always remember that we are reflections of our Father on this earth.
July 1, 2020

Yesterday, we had a bittersweet celebration at ABTS. We bid farewell to staff members who are leaving us due to downsizing and streamlining our operation in line with our new strategy and the new realities. It was sad to say good-bye to precious members of the ABTS family, yet we were able to celebrate the lasting contributions that they have made throughout the years. We pray that God will walk before them in their new ministry season, and we pray for ABTS to remain a faithful vessel in service of the King.
June 25, 2020

What are we to make of this complex and volatile pandemic experience? This topic was on the hearts and minds of theologians Martin Accad, Rima Nasrallah, and Gary Nelson during the first webinar in the series, Middle East Conversations 2020, on 18 June.

Read a report of last weekโ€™s MEC 2020 webinar.
June 24, 2020

Register today for our second MEC2020 webinar: ๐—–๐—ข๐—ฉ๐—œ๐——-๐Ÿญ๐Ÿต ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ผ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ด๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—˜๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐— ๐—ถ๐—ฑ๐—ฑ๐—น๐—ฒ ๐—˜๐—ฎ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ป ๐—–๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜๐—ฒ๐˜…๐˜: ๐—•๐—ฒ๐˜๐˜„๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐— ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ป๐˜๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—–๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—˜๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ด๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ข๐—ฝ๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜๐˜‚๐—ป๐—ถ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐˜€. Join us on July 16 at 4:00-5:30 pm Beirut time (GMT+3). Contributors include: Elie Haddad, Hani Hanna, Stephanie Black, and Martin Accad.

Register here
June 23, 2020

Michael, who is a 21-year-old Red Cross volunteer, shares:

"I chose to stay at the guesthouse simply because, as an ambulance driver, I transport potential coronavirus carriers to the hospital. I didnโ€™t want to risk transmitting the virus to my parents, who are more susceptible. My time at the guesthouse was nice. I am thankful for the comfortable rooms, the cleaning services and the kind staff members. I have been here since April."

Pray for the 30 frontline health workers at our guesthouse who decided to protect their loved ones by staying away from them. Our Moore Conference Center is still closed for business but open for ministry during this exceptional phase for our country.
June 18, 2020

This week's IMES blog post by Wissam Al-Saliby - From George Floyd to Iyad al-Hallaq: Can the American Church Also Engage with the Palestinian?

Amid the protests to the killing of George Floyd, many Evangelical pastors and leaders are speaking up and supporting racial justice, reconciliation, and public institution reform in the United States through Sunday sermons, peaceful protests, and social media.

I would like to challenge these pastors and leaders to weave the injustices in the Holy Land into their narrative for the following reasons.

Reason 1: Thereโ€™s police and military brutality in the Holy Land.

On May 30th, Iyad al-Hallaq, a 32-year-old Palestinian, was walking in the streets of Jerusalem to a center that caters to autistic persons. Despite the manโ€™s caregiver shouting at the police officers that he had a disability, despite al-Hallaq not posing any threat, despite his shouting at the two Israeli officers that he was with the caregiver, the officers shot and killed him.

On social media as well as in traditional media, the killing of al-Hallaq was inevitably compared to the killing of Floyd. The underlying racism, overpowering police and military, randomness of violence, patterns of killing unarmed persons, and the impunity are too familiar to Palestinians in the Holy Land.

Continue reading the blog post here.
June 17, 2020

With all the changes taking place at ABTS, and with the new direction weโ€™re heading in, our faculty have been and will be working extra hard.

Join us as we lift them in prayers for strength and wisdom as they play an essential role in the formation journey of our students.

Read more about the new ministry season for ABTS here.
caleb faculty prayer
June 15, 2020

After an intensive period of reflection and action among ABTS faculty and leadership, we received the green light from our Board of Trustees to move forward with a new strategic direction.

We invite you to read our June newsletter to see how God is at work during this time of multiple crises.

Read our June Newsletter here
June 11, 2020

This week's IMES blog post by Elie Haddad - Pandemic and the Body of Christ: Rethinking the Local Church

This COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to question many things in our lives that we deemed as sacred. At ABTS, given our role of theological education and leadership formation, we are having to question the very essence of education and formation, especially for the purpose of effective ministry in our region. We are having to rethink our curricula, our delivery methods, and many of the things that we hold dear. But what about the local church? Should we question our traditional understanding and ministry of the local church? Are we allowed to do that? Please be patient with my reflections. They come out of my deep passion for Godโ€™s church.

There is no doubt that the notion of the local church is changing in our minds, whether we acknowledge it or not. For many, before the pandemic, the core of the local church was the building. That was where the people of God gathered and where the majority of church programs took place. During the pandemic, as a result of the varying lockdowns and shelter-in-place measures, church buildings became out of reach. For many, the locus of the church became the social media platforms. If the local church is streaming its services, then the church is being church. Many, of course, continued to find ways to be on mission together serving their communities. So, what determines what the local church is?

Continue reading the blog post here.
rethinking the local church
June 8, 2020

Since 1960, ABTS has been serving the Arab Church by training leaders for effective ministry through our residential program. Today, we shared with our current residential students how we plan to continue doing that in a changing world.

How is God working in our region during a season of crises? How will we remain faithful stewards in what He has entrusted us? And how will our residential program be modified to serve its purpose?

Stay tuned for our upcoming Newsletter next Monday! Subscribe today!
June 4, 2020

This week's IMES blog post by Walid Zailaa -The Power of Stories

"Long after I hear sermons, the parts that usually remain most vividly in my mind are the pictures painted through the telling of stories. These tales oftentimes resemble my own personal stories, and through them I have learned lessons, come to decisions, and made significant U-turns in the course of my life. Simply put, stories are powerful.

Whether teaching in a seminary, preaching in a church, or studying the Bible in a study group, a narratorโ€™s mindset is key to a transformative approach that is utterly different from conventional teaching, preaching, and Bible study formats. This mindset draws comparison reflecting the hearerโ€™s reality today, perceives the power-dynamic effect on the audience and includes the audience as if the story of the Bible were their own stories. In this blog post, I will consider three examples from scripture of the power of stories in moving hearts to realize a hard truth and respond with repentance."

Continue reading the blog post here.
June 1, 2020

Register today for our first MEC2020 webinar - ๐ด ๐ท๐‘ฆ๐‘›๐‘Ž๐‘š๐‘–๐‘ ๐‘ƒ๐‘Ž๐‘ข๐‘ ๐‘’: ๐‘…๐‘’๐‘“๐‘™๐‘’๐‘๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘  ๐‘œ๐‘› ๐‘†๐‘–๐‘š๐‘๐‘™๐‘–๐‘๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘ฆ, ๐‘ƒ๐‘ข๐‘Ÿ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘ ๐‘’, ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘‡๐‘Ÿ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘ ๐‘“๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘š๐‘Ž๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘œ๐‘› ๐‘–๐‘› ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘  ๐‘‡๐‘–๐‘š๐‘’ ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐‘ƒ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘š๐‘–๐‘.

Join us on June 18 at 4:00-5:30 pm Beirut time (GMT+3). Contributors include: Martin Accad, Rima Nasrallah and Gary Nelson.
May 28, 2020

This week's IMES blog post by Wissam Nasrallah - On Tuna, Faith and the Economy!

"At times, grocery shopping has felt like playing the stock market with its rewards and regrets: the ephemeral reward of seeing the price of something you already bought double in price and the stinging regret of not having stockpiled more of it. But there has been something preventing me from adopting a โ€œwild westโ€ mentality and putting a whole shelf of tuna cans in my trolley. The right side of my brain refuses to believe that prices can further increase while the left part of my brain knows that it is a mathematical certainty given that products are imported at new dollar rates. It is therefore better to buy today what I will need tomorrow before the Lebanese pound further loses value. But will I need something tomorrow that I am not aware of today? Adding to the mental struggle of maximizing economic utility combined with the loss aversion bias, we face a spiritual battle. How much should I stockpile anyway? Is there an ethical limit? Does โ€œstoring up for tomorrowโ€ mean I donโ€™t trust God enough today? What would happen if everybody started behaving like me?"

Read the full blog post here.
May 27, 2020

Yesterday, we held the first in-person faculty meeting since the lockdown at ABTS.
As the world of education continues to thrash about in a sea of unknowns, we have faith in the God who generously gives wisdom to those who pursue it. We ask you to join us in prayer for faculty and leadership at ABTS to be filled with Godโ€™s wisdom as we seek to honor Him and remain faithful to our calling. Many decisions will be taken in the coming weeks that will reshape how we serve the Church in the Arab world.

We rely on your prayers!
May 26, 2020

How do we reconcile in the church? Are our practices biblical? Are they sensitive to Middle-Eastern culture? One of the Institute of Middle East Studiesโ€™ peacebuilding initiatives explores such questions with Protestant pastors in Lebanon. Between the 13th and 15th of May, 14 participants gathered for the second time through Zoom. Bringing healing to our world begins with healing of relationships in the church. Thatโ€™s how we can challenge the status quo and bring glory to God.

To know more about this Peacebuilding initiative, click here.
May 21, 2020

This week's IMES blog post by Robert Hamd - Our Gods Are Burning

All of us are affected. From the beginning of the popular protest, to the current collapse of the Lira, all of us are affected. What sets this time apart from the bloody era of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1991) is that now we canโ€™t stand behind our respective religious or political alliances and wait for them to come to our rescue and save us from doom. No amount of wasta (powerful leverage) can get us out. It seems our gods of sectarianism, militarism, and elitism are burning up on the floor of the Central Bank. Since late April, dozens of branches of the bank have been torched and burned by protesters.

All of us are affected. No one in our tiny country has the โ€œget out of jail freeโ€ card; we are all imprisoned in this economic crisis.

Continue reading the blog post here.
gods are burning
May 20, 2020

We are happy to launch Khebz W Meleh Online! Due to the current COVID-19 situation, the Khebz W Meleh team are holding the peacebuilding sessions over zoom.

To know more about this Peacebuilding initiative, click here.
May 15, 2020

Our May Newsletter is out!

โ€œWe have learned the hard way that when a crisis hits, we either cling to the mission that God has given us, be prepared to make some difficult decisions, innovate, or we die.โ€

In this monthโ€™s newsletter, ABTS President Elie Haddad describes the journey on which God is currently taking ABTS. Our graduate Elias Abi Rashed also tells us about his ministry in unreached areas of Lebanon. God is still working. We invite you to read about some of the things He is doing in Lebanon and the region.

Read our Newsletter here.
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May 14, 2020

This week's IMES blog post: Announcing Middle East Conversation 2020

"Middle East Conversation 2020 is an innovative initiative for ABTS that will facilitate monthly online webinars aiming to lend MENA voices to global discourses on urgent matters of faith and witness. Little about 2020 is โ€œbusiness as usual,โ€ but there is much to gain by scrutinizing long-held conventions and asking difficult questions in the genuine desire to discover how God is inspiring kingdom ministry during increasingly disorienting times."

Read the full post here.
May 12, 2020

We congratulate Dr. Abed on this academic feat and look forward to his achievements in the future. We pray that the Lord guides him in ministry and uses him and his advanced skillset effectively for the growth of the Church in the Arab world.

Read the full story here.
May 8, 2020

"Awad would communicate with us whenever he could, but because neither he nor his family have an internet connection, he would often go a full week without checking in. Still, when we transitioned to Online teaching on April 8, through the Lordโ€™s providence, Awad found a way to connect with us, receive his learning material, join in forums, and upload his homework. Before the pandemic caused the closure of public areas in South Sudan, Awad would travel 1 hour from his home to a cybercafe where he could work on his online material before taking a further hourโ€™s ride back home."

Read the full story here.
Awad s story
May 7, 2020

This week's IMES blog post by Brent Hamoud - Homebound Hope: Reflections on Four Levels of Home in the Shadows of Pandemic

Humanity is spending a lot of time at home these days. Stay-at-home orders have largely limited us to private confines resulting in some staggering consequences: half the worldโ€™s population was under lockdown at one point, 9 out of 10 students have been left out of school and airline traffic is a fraction of what it was. Images of emptied spaces are both fascinating and eerie snapshots of this historical moment. Whether refreshed by an unexpected season of simplicity or maddened by a prolonged disruption (or continuously bouncing between the two), all of us are facing something unprecedented and profound. This global season of sheltering in place indeed mitigates the COVID-19 crisis, but it also grants insights into a human crisis running much deeper than any pandemic: a crisis of home.

We are creatures undoubtedly made for home, and there are few things more desirable than a secure place to find meaning, set roots and fully be ourselves. Home is a concept and experience at the very genesis of history; scripture begins with a narrative of God crafting a creation where all is at home. Sin changed everything...

Read the full blog post here.
May 6, 2020

"Rami had been listening and asking penetrating questions all throughout the Bible study. This was the first home group we had started in the North, and this was his first time visiting. After the session, he approached me and said, 'I have been waiting for fifty years to hear these words.' Rami had not heard of Christ before, so when he finally did, he could no longer let go of Him. In fact, he began to share the gospel with the leaders of his people since he, too, was a leader there."

Learn more about our graduate Elias's ministry and our Lord's marvelous work in people's lives in our upcoming May Newsletter! Stay tuned!

Sign up to our monthly newsletter here.
May 4, 2020

"One day in 2010, while the preacher made an altar call at a church celebration, there was a struggle within me. I had failed to surrender my life to Him. Two years later, I saw a vision in my sleep of a man threatening to kill me. The next morning, I got into a deadly accident, but the Lord intervened and saved my life. At another church celebration, God spoke to my heart in a still, small voice asking me to come to Him. This time, I took the Lord Jesus as a personal Lord and Savior.

โ€œLater on, a person at church saw a vision in which I was handcuffed and arrested. When I returned to work in Port Sudan, I was in truth taken to prison based on false charges. A year and a half later, they released me, and I never knew why. While I was yet in prison, I began to hear Godโ€™s call for me to study theology. I had preached the gospel to many, and three prisoners came to Christ. Later, Daoud, who is my brother-in-law and a 2018 ABTS graduate, began to tell me about ABTS and how it had changed him. This entrenched my desire to study theology, and I heeded Godโ€™s call."

In reference to James 1:2-4, we know why suffering should be counted as joy, because it will change us for the better. The days we live in are difficult, but may the testing of our faith refine us and prepare us for what is to come.
May 2, 2020

While the clouds of the economic crisis continue to loom over Lebanon, let us remember today that Christ blessed the widow's two coins and fed more than 5000 with one boy's lunch.

Yesterday, a local church whose members are among the least privileged in the country, pleasantly surprised us by providing meals to the 25 nurses and doctors currently staying at our guesthouse as a gesture of their love and support.

Many stories are being written that all speak about God's goodness during this crisis.
April 30, 2020

This week's IMES blog post by Martin Accad - Interfaith Solidarity this Ramadan

My two young children (10 and 8) gathered around us a few days ago. My wife and I were going to have a heart-to-heart with them. Though we had so far decided to spare them the feelings of financial insecurity, we felt it was time to have a conversation that would sensitize them to the current economic situation of Lebanon. No, we hadnโ€™t decided to turn them into economists, nor did we plan to make them feel victims of the circumstances. What we wanted was to cultivate in them a greater sense of empathy for the plight of their compatriots.

Empathy is the ability to recognize emotions in others around us, to rejoice with them when they are happy, to weep with them when they are sad, to feel revolted when they are angry for suffering injustice, and to hold our breath with them when they are scared. The experience of those shared feelings is what then makes some of us spring to action in solidarity with others. Empathy is what makes us more human, better neighbors, more pleasant friends, and responsible citizens.

Read the full blog post here
April 24, 2020

We have resumed the meetings for the Forum for Current Affairs. The first zoom meeting was held on Wednesday, 22nd April, 2020 with pastors from various Evangelical denominations in Lebanon. It focused on โ€œbringing effective change to the conflict resolution strategies used by church leaders in the Lebanese evangelical community through the implementation of a reconstructed contextual biblical approach in peacemakingโ€.

The meeting renewed the enthusiasm towards thinking biblically about reconciliation and discovering new ways to implement it. Second Corinthians 5:17-20 reminded the participants of the importance and centrality of reconciliation between God and His creation. They shared their passion to see reconciliation thrive not just within the Evangelical Church but in the broader frame of Godโ€™s creation.

To know more about this initiative, click here.
April 23, 2020

This week's IMES blog post by Nabil Habiby - Covid-19 and Biblical Impurity: Go Forth and Infect the Nations

One of the more challenging aspects of the biblical world is the focus of the ancients on purity laws. Many ancient Jewish groups and even common people were constantly aware of their ritual purity, especially concerning eating or praying in everyday life. They lived in fear of an invisible threat: impurity. The food they ate, the people they mingled with, the places they entered, and the things they touched all had dire consequences. As Covid-19 invades our world, we find ourselves living in a similar fear of an invisible enemy. Can biblical concepts of impurity help us in the current pandemic?

In biblical times, if your house became impure it could have to be destroyed (Leviticus 14: 33-56). If you touched a corpse, or even stood inside a room with one, then you were made impure and became a source of impurity to those who touched you (Numbers 19: 11-22). Impurity was not only transmitted via touch but had an airborne power. There was a social and religious responsibility to stay pure. Your impurity endangered yourself, your family and the entire community. For some Jewish sects, such as the Qumran, you could be banned from the community meal for over a year if you were impure...

Continue reading the blog post here
April 22, 2020

Our graduate, Nihad Hasan, who pastors and serves among Kurdish Syrians in Lebanon, along with his ministry team were just about to launch services at their new venue when the pandemic started. Undeterred, they moved their services online and have taken up relief efforts for those affected by the outbreak.

Join us in prayer for our students and graduates as they faithfully heed Godโ€™s calling during this crisis, responding to arising challenges and exploiting every opportunity for ministry.
April 21, 2020

As with each Tuesday, the ABTS family gathered today over Zoom to worship the Lord. Our Dean of Students, Bassem Melki, reminded us that discipleship is a lifelong process. He said, โ€œBelieving in Jesus isnโ€™t all there is to our journey with Him. The Lord calls us to step out of the shallow end and become true disciples. True discipleship entails undergoing spiritual formation and allowing the Spirit to make us more like Jesus.โ€

May we all continue on this discipleship journey in all circumstances.
April 18, 2020

A conversation about innovation in a time of crisis: watch this conversation with Elie Haddad hosted by the International Council for Evangelical Theological Education - ICETE.
April 16, 2020

This week's IMES blog post by Rabih Hasbany - A Familial Resurrection Holiday Despite Coronavirus

...On this Resurrection Holiday, the family altar was restored! This year we did not go to church for a special celebration but instead gathered on Sunday as a family. We listened to the hymns of resurrection and to a sermon streamed online, and we prayed together reflecting on the implications that the resurrection of Christ has had on us. It never occurred to me that I might have the opportunity to hold a worship meeting at home, but coronavirus has given me this opportunity. This year, I did not minister to the members of my church or to the people in my community, but to my household, to my family. We are often busy planning services through which we reach our communities and share the Gospel of Christ with them, especially on holidays. We hold special events in our churches to reach out to our communities, but we easily forget that our families need this service as well. We often move to Judea and Samaria, and perhaps to the end of the world, but forget a small house in Jerusalem, that is our house, and the people in it who need to hear the message of salvation. Coronavirus has canceled all celebrations, masses, and meetings, and it has kept us in quarantine and socially distanced from one another; however, it has also brought us closer to our loved ones. The redemptive power of God has opened the door for us to better minister to our households during the lockdown.

Read the full blog post here
April 15, 2020

Our April Newsletter is out!

What can stop the Mighty Hand of God? Yes, this year has been a minefield, and ministry has never been more globally affected. Still, God is working powerfully, and when we phase out of this pandemic, the role of our churches, and consequently the leaders we are training, will be even more crucial. We knew, when God called us, that we want to be faithful till the end โ€“ even when we donโ€™t understand. So as you read this month's newsletter, join us in prayer as God teaches us to serve the Arab Church in creative ways.

Read our Newsletter here.
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April 14, 2020

This week, the Master of Religion (MRel) students began the Cultural Analysis in the Context of Middle East and North Africa module, and it is shaping to be a rather historic course. Two-week residencies in Lebanon are a hallmark of every MRel course, but the coronavirus pandemic means a residency will not be possible this time. Though plans may have changed, the Cultures module will go on! The teaching faculty have worked hard to adapt the course to current realities and will conduct a โ€œvirtual residency.โ€ This new approach promises to still deliver the profound learning experience our students have come to expect from the MRel. We trust that God will direct us to how we can continue to serve Him in meaningful ways.
April 9, 2020

This week's IMES blog post by Mike Kuhn - Coronavirus: Finding Mercy in a Tyrantโ€™s Reign

I confess. I thought pandemics were medieval.

Sure I remember SARS and Ebola. But those didnโ€™t get close. They affected others. I caught H1N1 (Swine Flu) but I recovered eventually and life went on. This one seems differentโ€ฆglobal and insidious. It hides and then pounces on its prey. It decimates the older folks among usโ€ฆand Iโ€™m almost one of thoseโ€ฆbut the impact on the young can be equally devastating. Medical personnel are in the line of fire. First responders are falling to the virus. Its deadly impact is felt by all.

Corona has pulled the rug out from under meโ€ฆknocked my legs out from under me.

Iโ€™m concerned that a friend or family member will soon be fighting Corona. Itโ€™s getting closer.

And you?

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April 8, 2020

Our residential studentsโ€™ academic year officially resumed online today! Students will take two courses equivalent to 6 credits over a period of 12 weeks. At the same time, prior to the start of every week, each faculty member will review the online course he/she is teaching. This will be part of a review plan for the online program. This is an extremely important experience, as we are planning to launch the whole Bachelor of Theology program online in 2021.

Read more about this transition in our April newsletter! Stay tuned!
April 7, 2020

Eight nurses and doctors are currently staying at our guesthouse, isolating themselves from their loved ones in times of COVID-19. More are coming every day. Our housekeeping staff are making sure everything is clean and sanitized for our valuable guests. Krysten Mansour, guesthouse receptionist, shares:

โ€œThe doctors and nurses here really appreciate this initiative, and they are very thankful for this place. They are asking about ABTS and want to learn more about what we do!โ€

We pray that God will use our guesthouse to provide a safe place for those workers so they may rest well before returning to their battlefields!
April 6, 2020

This yearโ€™s Palm Sunday was not the same without friends, family and church gatherings. Be that as it may, Easter celebrations will be much more meaningful this year with the Passion week heralding the promise of resurrection โ€“ that out of death springs life. That is why we have much hope. Even amid difficulties and challenges, we are experiencing elements of the resurrected life. We see it in the hard work and innovation of the various ABTS teams.

For instance, the genuine dedication of our Academic team, Online team and faculty has led to the continuation of our residential studentsโ€™ academic year online starting from today.

A new ABTS Online term starts this week.

A new MRel module starts this week, as well, while finding creative alternatives for the residency.

MEC is being re-conceptualized. We are witnessing the re-birth of MEC in a new format.

The guesthouse is closed for business, open for ministry.

โ€œI am the resurrection and the life [โ€ฆ] Do you believe this?โ€ We find our Lord asking us the same question today.
If our answer is โ€œyesโ€, will we go out in faith?
April 3, 2020

Our residential students made use of a sunny morning to work the green space near the parking lot on campus. While they are usually busy during the academic year, social distancing made it possible to do such work. As we admire their initiative and servant heart, we pray for them as they resume their courses next week. Hard work is coming!
April 2, 2020

Today's IMES Blog post by Caleb Hutcherson: COVID-19: Sovereignty without resurrection is just opium

A muโ€™azzin calls people to pray at home, rather than coming together to pray. A church cancels its Sunday services, moving to online broadcasts. A seminary pivots to online instruction, temporarily closing in-person classes. In ordinary times, any of these local changes would barely make the news. But these are not ordinary times. The entire world, it seems, is experiencing this coronavirus pandemic together. And we all are struggling to make sense of it.

In my historical theology classes at ABTS, much of what students and I do together involves examining theological impulses we assume are โ€œbiblical.โ€ Dusting off ancient beliefs and practices sheds critical light on our inherited assumptions. But in the midst of crises like the one we are all walking through together now, these assumptions are often...

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April 1, 2020

On Monday, April 6, our residential students will resume their studies in an online format starting with an induction session. Then on Wednesday, April 8, our first-year students will start taking the Biblical and Historical Theology module courses, and our second and third year students will take the Leadership module courses. Our faculty members have been working hard and will be finalizing all the material this week. Then, four of them will be teaching the coming module courses. We pray that both, our students and our faculty members, will cope well with this migration! We praise God as He walks before us so that we continue to train these key leaders in such times.
March 31, 2020

This morning, in preparation for accommodating healthcare workers, all our guestrooms were professionally sanitized. A medical doctor from Hotel Dieu Hospital also came for a check up and a short training session for our Moore Conference Center team. The session was on how to dress when entering a room and how to keep the rooms clean and in check. This afternoon, we welcomed the first doctor, so we are excited for this new adventure! Pray with us for our guesthouse and facilities team as they take on new responsibilities.
March 31, 2020

Chapel is an integral part of our community. Though we are physically apart, students, staff and faculty gathered virtually over Zoom today to worship God, listen to His Word and pray. It was a blessed time for all of us to be together once again!
March 30, 2020

We have been exploring ways to serve the community through our guesthouse amid this pandemic. We found a relatively safe way to meet a growing need. Through the volunteer group Baytna Baytak, we will be offering free accommodation to healthcare workers (doctors, nurses, red cross and emergency service teams, โ€ฆ) who are at the frontline of this coronavirus battle and who do not want to go back to their homes because they live with vulnerable family members.

This will be our way of supporting these heroes as they care for patients daily. Let us also support them through prayer!
March 26, 2020

The Lebanese government announced today the prolongation of the countryโ€™s public health emergency state until April 12. Following the announcement, our offices will remain closed until further notice. Nonetheless, we will be working online from our homes, and our students will go on with their theological studies online as planned. We cannot predict how long this will stay, but we know that we are to be faithful to His calling at all times.
March 26, 2020

Today's IMES Blog post by Wissam Nasrallah is about the current crisis.

One thing spreading faster than the coronavirus is fear: the fear of the unknown, fear of not being in control, fear of losing our livelihoods, and fear of becoming a social pariah for contracting the virus or simply sneezing. But most of all, we fear death.

Fear in specific circumstances can be a positive thing and keep us away from harm. It triggers a high-arousal physical state that enables us to have a โ€œfight or flightโ€ response in the face of a perceived threat or danger. In the case of the coronavirus, it should in principle compel us to stay at home and take necessary social and hygienic precautions because the threat is real, progressing and life-threatening.

However, fear can also have negative effects. It can keep us from doing what we want to do or even what we need to do.

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March 25, 2020

All our meetings are continuing as usual, thanks to online communication! The Leadership Team meeting today was mainly to discuss the current updates.

Pray with us for wisdom as tough decisions come along in these uncertain times. We believe that God is at work, and He is inviting us to join Him!
March 23, 2020

All of our Egyptian residential students made it back home. They are now settling well in their country, confined to their homes until the virus threat dissipates. Meanwhile, they are enjoying their time with their families until they resume their studies online in April. Some are also raising awareness about the seriousness of the pandemic so that their neighbors take the necessary precautions. We are thankful for the opportunity our students have to serve their communities in these difficult times.
March 20, 2020

Update on the Academy of Languages and Practical Skills (ALPS):

Both our offices in Hamra and in Mansourieh cannot receive Arabic learners due to the current health emergency. In spite of this, from their homes, our tutors continue to offer the usual Skype sessions and have shifted the in-class sessions to Skype format as well. So as you ward off the virus and stay home, make use of your time and take up Arabic lessons!

For more information, click here.
March 19, 2020

Today's IMES Blog post by Martin Accad is about the current crisis.

Lebanon this academic year (2019-2020) has so far reaped three โ€œpandemics:โ€ the collapse of our political system, the collapse of our economy, and the collapse of our public health. Who could have predicted that we would use these words in a single sentence? As someone who grew up through the Lebanese Civil War from the mid-1970s; one who witnessed the first great collapse of our currency in the 1980s, when our Lebanese pound devaluated from 3.5 pounds to the US dollar to 1500 pounds over a few months; I never thought I would live to see the near-collapse of political, economic, and health sectors in a single year. Covid-19, aka coronavirus, which is bringing our world to its knees, is a metaphor for all that is wrong with us today. But could it also be a metaphor for what can be right?

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March 18, 2020

Important Announcement Concerning Middle East Consultation 2020:

In response to the unprecedented situation brought on by the coronavirus crisis the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary has decided to enact major changes concerning plans for MEC. Like much of the world, Lebanon is taking swift and drastic action to mitigate deteriorating public health conditions brought on by the virus and it is no longer deemed viable to organize a global gathering at the seminary. We are aware of the gravity of the situation and committed to taking responsible measures to protect individuals and communities in Lebanon and around the world.

Work is currently underway to reconceptualize MEC 2020 in light of recent events. ABTS intends to facilitate an urgent discussion on The Gospel in Public Life and the team is investigating ways to craft MEC in a way that will allow for remote participation. Details of development will be communicated in the weeks ahead as modified plans come together.

Stay tuned!
March 17, 2020

The Khartoum airport abruptly shut down yesterday evening. Flights heading to Khartoum had to go back. Our Sudanese students were scheduled to fly home last night, but they didnโ€™t make it. This means they are still here on campus, and a total of 26 students cannot leave Lebanon due to the pandemicโ€™s travel restrictions. We are taking all precautionary measures necessary to keep our on-campus students as safe as possible until other travel arrangements can be made.

Meanwhile, our faculty met online today and continued working on our transition from in-class to online teaching. Pray for our students, faculty, and staff, that they be ready to serve others during this difficult time.
March 16, 2020

The Academic team held an urgent meeting last Friday to discuss how residential students are to migrate to online learning under the supervision of faculty members. The team already has the online material and courses needed for the fulfilment of our residential studentsโ€™ academic requirements because we have been working on a full theology distance-learning program. This shift to the online platform will hasten the launch of the distance-learning program as faculty put it into action with the residential students.

We know God has already been preparing us for today, and He will certainly teach us to do things differently as we continue to partake in His mission. The work is plentiful in the region, so we continue to train leaders for the Arab Church trusting in Godโ€™s sovereignty and leadership.
March 13, 2020

This week we had to make the decision of sending our residential students back home and continuing the academic year online. This was not an easy decision to make, as we did not want to be reactive 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 addition, with the quickly increasing travel restrictions, this decision could not be delayed. Obviously, this decision was as difficult for our students as it was for us.

On the positive side, we are thankful that we had been developing our online platform. We now have the ability to switch from in-class to online instruction with reasonable effort and without compromising quality. This will also help accelerate our efforts in developing a complete theological degree online.

We continue 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 time like this. We continue to be committed to the formation of our students, leaders in the Arab church, and we will continue to support their living expenses at home as we had done during their time here so that they can focus on their education and training under very challenging circumstances.

COVID-19 is a pandemic affecting communities globally. We pray for you and for all our friends and partners as you face difficult decisions in your own ministries and communities. We cherish your prayers for our community.
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