October 2021 Newsletter: We Decided to Stay Because the Need Was Growing
October 15, 2021
We Decided to Stay Because the Need Was Growing
October 15, 2021

Middle East Consultation 2021

Towards a Dynamic Church: Making Disciples, Developing Leaders,
and Engaging Society in Lebanon and Beyond

The growth of the Church in the region never ceases to amaze us. Perhaps, part of what makes the Middle East Consultation stand out every year is its enactment of a miniature gathering of the global Body of Christ. We get to see a broad view of God’s work in our Arab countries and in the world, and that usually leaves us wondering how we can be part of it.

This year, the consultation ran virtually from September 30 to October 2. We heard practical and engaging insights from local practitioners and church leaders, theological reflections by our faculty, and contributions from regional and global leaders. The speakers engaged in daily panel discussions and answered the questions of participants. During the discussion group sessions, we heard valuable lessons from the participants’ unique ministry contexts.
Day 1: Making Disciples In an interview, Moufid Tohme, Pastor of the Church of Christ, Lebanon, and Fouad Kahwaji, Pastor of the Jesus Prince of Peace Church, Lebanon, shared live examples from their own experiences with disciple making. What are the best methods for disciple making? How can Christian organizations work with local churches for effective disciple making? These are some of the questions they attempted to answer.

Warrick Farah, a missiologist and theological educator in the Middle East, stressed the importance of the ongoing multiplication of disciples, for the lack of it would be an anomaly in the Church. We also heard a thoughtful contribution form Alan Hirsch, an Australian author and thought leader in the missional Church movement.

Day 2: Leadership Development The next day, we interviewed Jerair Ghazarian, Pastor of Word of Life Church, Lebanon, and Andrew Salameh, Pastor of the Church of the Nazarene, Lebanon. They both shared pertinent accounts of leadership formation while drawing on their ministries.

Grace al-Zoughbi from Palestine, adjunct faculty at ABTS, touched on the need for female leaders in service of the Church and society. “When we provide women with a space where they can think, research, write and lead,” she shared, “we stop thinking of them as second-rate ministers.” Elie Haddad, ABTS President, then took us on a journey through the Book of Acts and showed us how God was using hardships to develop His Church just as He is today in Lebanon. He spoke on the biblical notion of leadership and the priesthood of all believers.

We also heard from Perry Shaw, a Researcher in Residence at Morling College, Sydney, and adjunct faculty member at ABTS, who spoke about the types of leaders in the Church and key issues pertaining to training leaders on all levels.

Day 3: Social Engagement Alia Abboud, the Chief Development Officer at the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development, and Maher El Hajj, the National Director of Youth for Christ Lebanon, shared how they have witnessed the Lebanese Church reaching out to its community though their work with local churches. Samira Luka, Director of the Coptic Organization of Dialogue and Social Work in Egypt, also shared about her ministry context.

ABTS faculty member Martin Accad then shared challenging thoughts about relief work without hidden agendas and helping the underprivileged in a sustainable way that preserves their dignity. He also focused on leveraging the strengths of churches and NGOs. After that, Greg Okesson, Dean at Asbury Theological Seminary, Kentucky, spoke on public missiology. “Heaven and earth were not meant to be separate,” he shared. How can we then have a “thicker” understanding of the gospel, which encompasses all areas of public life?
We praise God for such rich discussions and contributions from our speakers and participants! This year’s consultation brought up so many relevant issues to the Arab Church, so we pray that the content helped equip both our speakers and participants for more impactful ministry in their contexts.