November 2023 Newsletter: Branches of the Vine
November 20, 2023
Vessels of His Joy
October 17, 2023

My Peace I Give You

Middle East Consultation 2023

Every year since 2004, ABTS has held annual Consultations that bring together global and regional theologians, practitioners, and church ministry leaders and members in conversation over issues relevant to the needs of the Arab Church. The discussions are often difficult as we dig deep into the challenges, struggles, and failures that we face, both as individuals and as churches, but they are also opportunities for growth, healing, and discovery. This year’s MEC was no different.

MEC 2023, held between the 25th and 27th of September, was the first Consultation since the pandemic to be held primarily in-person, with online elements made available through Zoom to those who could not make it to Lebanon for the three-day Consultation. It continued the work started by our Peacemaking team in 2022. Since 2019, our Peacemaking team has been working alongside a collaborative group of pastors to develop a Biblical and contextual approach to peacemaking that applies to Arab culture. The theory they developed was presented during MEC 2022, at the end of which a call was sent out to Arab church leaders who wanted to be trained to apply these theories in their home countries. 13 leaders from Sudan, Yemen, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and the Gulf answered the call. In February, these 13 leaders came to ABTS where they were trained in the theory and went back home to begin peacemaking initiatives of their own.

In this year’s Consultation, these leaders came back with feedback on what worked and what didn’t work in the initiatives they started. They shared intimate experiences of hurt and healing and how the Lord worked amid conflict to bring restoration. Their stories guided workshop conversations where participants were able to share their own personal experiences with conflict and struggle. And, with all the difficulties that the region has been experiencing lately – including the war in Sudan and the earthquakes in Syria and Morocco – the Consultation created an opportunity for many to share their hurts, take practical steps towards peace, and begin journeys of healing with the Lord.

Commenting on the Consultation, ABTS President Elie Haddad shared:
This was one of the most difficult Consultations I’ve attended, not because peacemaking theories are difficult, but because they touch on all the aspects of our lives, reveal our weaknesses, wake up repressed memories, and motivate us to reconcile, pray, and embrace. It is a topic that can change our lives if we give it the attention it deserves.
The Consultation ended with a synthesis of the discussions that helped us gain further insight into the challenges and possibilities for peacemaking ministries across the globe. We thank the Lord for what He is doing through our Consultation and our peacemaking ministry and pray that He continues to spread a culture of peace in the region through the Arab Church. With what is currently happening in the region, we are reminded for the desperate need for God’s peace in a world filled with evil and injustice. Our prayer is that His peace that transcends all understanding fills the hearts of those who seek Him even in the midst of a cruel war.