Peacebuilding in Cyber Space: Khebz w Meleh Online
June 12, 2020
June 2020 Newsletter: A Representative of the Gospel
June 12, 2020

A Representative of the Gospel

The story of our Online Graduate Karim

At 25, Karim fled his childhood memories and hometown in Mount Lebanon having lost his mother in a car crash. He turned to Jesus in Beirut, and Jesus turned him from an ordinary sales representative to a representative of the Gospel. In 2013, God called Karim to serve in the Bekaa so he left his job and moved there with his wife. Recently we interviewed Karim, who shared an encouraging glimpse of his ministry in Lebanon.

Jesus is What Matters

Since 2016, Karim’s ministry team had been reaching a thousand kids at a certain area of the Bekaa – 800 kids at a school they served and supported and 200 kids at refugee camps. Three years later, many kids – and parents – had already come to the Lord. Consequently, after having received several complaints of them “turning children into Christians”, the area officials asked Karim and the team to leave altogether. They also threatened the camp residents against welcoming ministry workers again.

This doesn’t sound encouraging, you might say, but Jesus never promised the road would be smooth. However, we rest in the knowledge that He is still in control even when the road gets bumpy. Karim shares,

"We are bound to face setbacks in ministry. We had been planting seeds for five years at the school and the camps, but suddenly everything stopped. Other than the resistance we face, the need of volunteers can also be a challenge in a big ministry, but it isn’t an insurmountable one. We often find out that God sends the needed people for the work. We never say, “We are waiting for the volunteers so we can start.” We start. Then God sends the people. So, if asked what encourages me most about the ministry, I would simply say Jesus. Jesus encourages me most whether there is or there isn’t work. The way He deals with people encourages me – the way He gently pursues those who first reject Him. Seeing the fruit of the second birth in others encourages me. I am excited to see people fervently serving God as they mature in Him daily – as I mature in Him daily."

Starting Over

Faithful to his calling, God continued to use Karim strongly in the Bekaa. In August 2019, he started from scratch with a refugee camp of 50 families. In partnership with other ministries, the ministry team has been taking the families through literacy programs and distributing food packages and gifts for kids while telling them about Jesus.

In addition to this, they currently work with almost 40 Kurdish families living in the neighboring towns. Karim focuses on the adults while the rest of the ministry team focuses on the children. While they have home groups, Karim prepares Bible studies for the men while others prepare Bible studies for the women. Around 200 kids from the previous camps come to their local church for a weekly children’s program. Aside from his ministry with refugees, Karim leads the young adult ministry of his church. He shares,

"We have fifteen young adults. They all came to Jesus in the past couple of years, and I followed up with each of them individually. They are making such a difference now, and I can rely on them to continue the work. Even during the pandemic, their passion for the Lord is inspiring."

The Stories of Two ABTS Online Students

Karim shared the stories of two young men at his young adult group. The first is from a non-Christian background. Almost three years ago, he had just arrived from Syria and came to their church looking for relief aid. Karim began to visit him and his wife. He soon came to the Lord wholeheartedly and became a committed follower. Today, he shares the Gospel with his people. He recently got baptized and is studying theology online with ABTS. The second person is also currently an ABTS Online student. He grew up in a believing family and heard it all, but the Lord used Karim to guide him from a life of head knowledge to a life of true surrender to God.

Ministry During Lockdown

In these circumstances, God is using Karim in new ways. They have been reaching out to Lebanese families as the country goes through tough times. They pass by briefly, offer them food packages and tell them about Jesus. Since they moved the Bible studies and the follow-ups online, they have been meeting new people who wouldn’t have joined their ministry otherwise. They cannot gather the children in the Bekaa currently, so they send them 5-10 minute videos of Bible stories. Both the kids and the parents have been reciting the stories to them whenever they briefly meet them.

We can’t do much to stop the pandemic, but we can pray. The more we pray and read God’s Word, the more we experience God. This is what we see in people’s lives. We hear many stories of families on the brink of financial collapse, but they find the answer at their doorstep as soon as they pray. You see, God often manifests Himself in the dark.

The Impact of Theological Training Karim intends to join the Bachelor of Theology distance-learning program because he finds it easier to study in the evening. He tried to study for the residential Bachelor of Theology after he graduated with a Certificate in Ministry in 2017, but with his daughter diagnosed with autism, he couldn’t commit to spending most of his day on campus as he needed to focus on her. He says,

"I am glad for the academic training I received at ABTS. I had courses on church planting and on Islam, which matured the way I do ministry. Much of what I studied is applicable because it is the outcome of years of experience in the ministry field. ABTS made a huge difference. That is why I constantly ask about the start date of the Bachelor of Theology distance-learning program.

I always ask for prayer for two things. The first concerns my daughter Daniella. The Lord has promised me several things concerning her. May He continue His work in her. The second concerns souls. May God use the Bekaa ministry team to save souls and to touch the hearts of many."

We are thankful that our online program caters to ministry workers, such as Karim, who cannot put their ministry on hold and spend up to three years on campus. Many of our Certificate in Ministry students and graduates have expressed the desire to join our Bachelor of Theology blended program as soon as it is launched, so we are excited for the new chapter that awaits us. Please pray for God’s wisdom and guidance as we develop this program.