“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Our IMES-led peace initiatives have impacted the Lebanese community for the past several years, especially with regards to Christian-Muslim relations, and they have taught us many lessons at ABTS. Today, as part of our new direction, we are taking peacemaking to two other places; first, the ABTS community, and second, the local evangelical churches, in preparation to impact the Arab world in the years to come.
A brief recent history
Peacebuilding and conflict resolution have always been an integral part of the education students receive at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2015, the seminary took peacebuilding beyond the classroom setting through three initiatives carried out by its Institute of Middle East Studies that targeted divided religious communities at different social strata.
The first initiative, Khebz w Meleh (Bread and Salt), brought together youths between the ages of 13 and 17 to share meals, openly discuss their faith together, and take action for the common good of their local communities.
The second initiative, the Friendship Network of Church and Mosque Goers, brought together religious leaders and religious practitioners in religiously divided cities for interfaith dialogue and mutual action for the benefit of the greater community.
The third initiative, the Forum for Current Affairs, brought together key evangelical church and organizational leaders for discussions on the current challenges faced by the church and how Church communities meet these challenges in their own contexts.
The new strategic direction
With the new strategic direction that ABTS has adopted recently, we have developed our understanding of peacebuilding into a culture of peacemaking and are placing it at the center of our ministry.
In the words of Bassem Melki, our Dean of Faculty and current peacemaking initiative lead: “God is a peace-loving God, and a peacemaking God... God’s children ought to have the character of their Father. What He loves, they ought to love... That is why, at ABTS, we want to challenge our students, faculty, staff, leadership, board, and partners, to walk the talk. Every member at ABTS becomes a peacemaker. We need to work on restoring a culture of love, a culture of unity, and a culture of peace. Peace “making” is what the children of God are best at doing or should be doing. Peacemakers change the world, mend relationships, reconcile, destroy enmity and racism, heal wounds, and restore families, communities, and nations.”