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September 6, 2021

The Spiritual and Christian Life

We offered our continuing students a set of electives from August 9 to September 5. Grace Al Zoughbi, our adjunct faculty member who taught one of these electives, The Spiritual and Christian Life, shared her experience teaching the students.

This course is important for those serving God in the Arab world because it removes their attention from their selves and turns it to God’s work, to God’s Kingdom, and to God’s labor. When we commit to a life of faith, we are continually transformed into His image as we identify with the needs of one another. The Arab world needs such leaders to be a witness for our living and loving God, the God of Hope.

It has been a humbling experience teaching this course. I have thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the students, and my life has been richly blessed by reading their prayers, devotions, journals, and reflections, which were part of their assignments. Their dedication to grow in their journey with the Lord and to be His disciples, no matter what, is inspiring.

In our online Scripture reading that we held together, we read the words of Jesus from Matthew 5. The beatitude “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted” spoke poignantly to us as a class at this time: though suffering is part of our spirituality, joy comes in the morning.

Suffering in the lives of the students comes in the shape of persecution for their faith, the absence of freedom, and the meagerness of resources, yet an acknowledgment that God is bigger than all that they go through becomes evident in them as they grow in their faith. As for me, this course has challenged me to pray more specifically for the needs of the persecuted church.

Here, I quote a written prayer from one of the students, which has deeply encouraged me:

“Lord of all grace, I thank you for preserving my life till this moment. Thank you for teaching me so many of your wonderful insights. Thank you for opening my eyes to meditate on your holy word. Lord, during this time of learning, help me to learn more how I can be in holy fellowship with you so that I can yearn to meditate on your word every day, with joy and diligence. Thank you, Lord, for listening to your servant. In the name of Christ, I pray.”
After teaching this course, I was reminded afresh that the academic rigor of theological education must go alongside the character formation of the students. The spirituality and maturity that the students have exhibited through this journey is precisely what the Arab church needs.

Grace holds a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Bethlehem Bible College and an M.A. in Theology from the London School of Theology. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at the London School of Theology with a special focus on the theological education of Arab women in the Middle East.