Non-formal Training
May 20, 2024
May 2024 Newsletter: Greet also the Church in their House
May 20, 2024

Greet also the Church in their House

Visiting a North African Country

Often, when we have conversations with our students and graduates about their experiences at ABTS, many share that it is the personal relationships they built with faculty and staff that had the most impact on their spiritual and ministerial formation. These past few years, with our programs being delivered predominantly online through our commitment to our strategic direction, we have been purposeful about continuing to build and maintain our relationships with our students and graduates through visits and workshops. During the last week of April, our Academic Dean Walid Zailaa and Registrar Rana Wazir Zailaa had the opportunity to visit our students, graduates, and their churches in one country in North Africa.

Over the past years, the Lord has been growing the Church in this country in an unprecedented way. This has been especially so in the wake of the difficulties and disasters that the region has seen in recent years. So, it is a blessing to be part of the work the Lord is doing in the region, by serving His Church and equipping leaders for effective ministry in North Africa.

During the trip, Rana and Walid were able to visit three different cities and two different churches. Speaking about the shape of the Church in the country, Walid shared:
It was inspiring to see how these believers met and worshipped together. The Church doesn’t have an official presence in the country, so believers meet in their homes and do their best to avoid attention. The first church we visited, led by a current student, is made up mostly of young adults, and so they had a bigger foreign influence. The worship songs there are in Arabic. The second church, led by two of our graduates, is an older church, so they’ve had time to adapt their ministry to their context, and their worship songs are in two local dialects to suit the needs of their community. It was also a blessing to hear from them how what they learned at seminary is helping them reach out to their communities effectively.
Throughout the trip, Walid and Rana had the opportunity to spend time in fellowship with our students, graduates, and their churches, and see how theological education has an impact on their lives and ministries. Speaking about this, Rana shared:
At one point, we met with a group of our students and graduates for a time of fellowship where they shared with us about their ministries and how their theological education is helping them serve the Kingdom. Their country recently faced some natural disasters. The students and graduates shared that, because of their theological education, they were equipped when difficulty struck to know how to respond holistically by reaching out to their communities, offering relief aid, and sharing the gospel with those who were impacted. Many of them continue in the relief ministry till today!

We also met with a church pastored by a current student, and we were discussing his education so far. It was very encouraging to hear from the church how our student had been setting an example for them through his journey in the program, and how he was inspiring them to also pursue theological education. Two of the women there said that the growth and maturity they saw in him encouraged them to begin studying through our Certificate in Ministry program!
Toward the end of the trip, Walid held a training workshop for one of the churches on the concept of the covenant in the Old Testament. Talking about the church, Walid shared:
Seeing the ministry in person and talking to the church members was very enlightening for me. Because the church there faces a lot of scrutiny, and because gatherings of more than 20 people can be alarming, the church is very mission oriented. This is why they place a large emphasis on theological education: they want to equip leaders and send them out to start ministries and home groups in different areas of the country. Experiencing how the church is in its context help us to be better equipped to continue providing contextual and dynamic theological education that directly meets the needs of the church.
Through this visit, and through future visits to our students and graduates in their home countries, we hope that we can continue to nurture these relationships, invest further in their lives and the lives of their churches, and learn from them so that our programs remain dynamic and relevant to their ministry needs.