COVID-19 / ABTS Updates and Related Information

April 2, 2020

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

A mu’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 “biblical.” 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, …) 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 country’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 “fight or flight” 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!

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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 “pandemics:” 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 didn’t make it. This means they are still here on campus, and a total of 26 students cannot leave Lebanon due to the pandemic’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 students’ 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 God’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.
Mar 2020 NL Screenshot