March 2024 Newsletter: Program Spotlight
March 19, 2024
February 2024 Newsletter: Program Spotlight
February 19, 2024

Program Spotlight

The Certificate in Ministry Program

The more I learn, the better I am able to teach the people I serve through my church. Most importantly, I think, I am learning to look for what the gospel is saying rather than burden it with my misconceptions.
This is what one of our students, Walid, recently shared about the impact of our Certificate in Ministry program.

Launched in 2015, this online program seeks to provide flexible opportunities for theological education and Biblical formation. It is for anyone in ministry who wants to grow as a servant of God and whose ministry, family, or work commitments prevent them from pursuing full-time study. This term, students are offered these courses: Biblical Interpretation, Following Jesus and Growing with God, The Holy Spirit in Christian Life, and Preparing for Persecution. These courses help provide our students with space to grow as servant-leaders who are faithful over resources the Lord has entrusted them with.

Biblical Interpretation

The Biblical Interpretation course is a core course for new students joining the program. It focuses on giving students the skills they need to better understand and apply the word of God. Elia Shehata, the program lead, shared:
We want to equip students with the tools and knowledge needed to carry out objective, comprehensive, and effective exegesis of Biblical texts. We also want them to understand the roles that context and literary genre play in our understanding of the Bible. As they grow in their knowledge, students are better able to extract lessons and principles from the Biblical text.
Students also acquire skills that help them engage with the Biblical text to understand it within its context and allow it to speak for itself rather than imposing their own understanding on it. Tonina, one of the students shared:
The course helped me understand that there are different ways to approach the different types of literary texts found in the Bible. It also taught me how to use these approaches in a way that is relevant to the people I serve. The lessons not only helped better equip me for ministry but also helped me grow in my personal relationship with Christ.

Following Jesus and Growing with God

Discipleship is an integral part of a Christian’s life, but we often do not know what true discipleship is. It is easy for us to limit it to Bible study classes, formal curricula, and maybe counselling, but we end up missing out on the need to become more Christlike. Mireille, a tutor in the program, described it as such:
When Christ called His disciples to follow Him, He spent a lot of time with them, living out in front of them what He was preaching and teaching them how to be His followers and how they can bring others to know Him and follow Him. So, discipleship has rules and a goal: to live according to God's will amid others.
This is why the course focuses on practical lessons on discipleship that the Lord models for us. Students discuss issues like reconciliation with God that extends to reconciling with others, responding to God’s calling for their lives, and the assuredness of forgiveness and salvation. Speaking about the impact of the course, Rania shared, “The course gave me a lot of insight into the practical steps of discipleship. I was able to use what I learned to enrich my ministry both at church and with my family and friends.”

The Holy Spirit in Christian Life

It is often difficult for us as believers, despite calling Christ Lord, to fully surrender to His Spirit’s guidance. And yet, full surrender is necessary if we want to live faithfully and redeem every opportunity to join God’s mission that He entrusted His Church with. This course helps students understand essential concepts concerning the Holy Spirit by delving into how different traditions understand Him and discussing topics like the gifts of the Spirit, what it means to be baptized by the Spirit, and being filled with the Spirit. The course puts emphasis on Christ’s teaching that the Comforter was given to the disciples to remind them of all they had learned and guide them in their lives. Bahaa, a student, shared:
There are so many different enriching teachings about the Holy Spirit. How the Spirit works through us to glorify the Lord in everything we do taught me how our goals should also coincide with the Spirit’s. I was able to share what I learned with my youth group and my church as well. Today, as my church seeks a new pastor, we have learned to ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that we may make decisions that bring glory to God.

Preparing for Persecution

This course focuses on explicating a Biblical theology of persecution, especially in the context of the Arab world. The course focuses on three main ideas: what is our response as believers to the persecution that we may face, what our role is with others who face persecution and how to help them, and how the Church deals with persecution. The course helps equip students with a Biblical perspective that can build patience, encourage, and give comfort during times of persecution. This perspective explains how their experience echoes that of many other believers, both across history and in our current time. Talking about the impact of the course, the tutor shared:
The course challenges our students as it deals with existential issues for many of them. It creates a space where students can be vulnerable and share about the pain that they have experienced, often at the hands of their families, friends, and loved ones. Many students highlighted that it was important to see how different characters in the Bible delt with persecution. It pushes us to challenge our perspectives on persecution. Students also explained how the course has helped them think positively about difficult circumstances that they may face and better serve those in their churches who are also facing persecution.
One example of these students is Rami, who shared: “The course helped me see that persecution and difficulty are parts of a believer’s life that the Lord uses to help us grow and change into His image. We should expect difficulty and be ready for it.”

When this program was launched, its intention was to reach a new group of students who did not have access to formal theological education in Arabic. We expected to train those in ministry who were immersed in their contexts and among their own people. What we did not expect was that God was preparing it for a new wave of followers of Christ rising from war-torn countries who have experienced Him in marvelous ways and want to share His love even with their enemies. We look forward to seeing how God will surprise us next!