What’s happening at IMES this June?

Without question, June is consistently our busiest month of the year at the Institute of Middle East Studies. As such, we wish to highlight a number of the projects that we have been working on as we seek to fulfill our institutional mandate: To bring about positive transformation in thinking and practice between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East and beyond.

1) Middle East Consultation 2017 – The Church in Disorienting Times: Leading Prophetically through Adversity (19 – 23 June)

mec-2017-poster4-finalWe live in disorienting times. This is a reality for the church in many parts of the world today, not least the church of the Middle East. Many factors, historical and social, have reduced the church to the status of minority, in which persecution and hopelessness have become a reality for many. How must our theology inform our response?

During IMES’ Middle East Consultation (MEC) 2017 – The Church in Disorienting Times: Leading Prophetically through Adversity, participants will seek to discern a biblical framework that avoids both self-victimization and triumphalism and encourages the church to prophetically embrace adversity in a way that activates growth and development rather than discouragement and stagnation.

MEC 2017 provides a unique context for the MENA and global church to address a range of critical issues, focusing on the themes of persecution and suffering; minoritization; hopelessness and despair; and emigration. Together we will explore how the Body of Christ can best respond to such challenges, exploring Biblical and theological responses when confronted with adversity.

Click here for additional information about MEC 2017.

2) ABTS Graduation: Another Big Year for IMES! (25 June)ABTS logo med

Immediately following MEC 2017 is the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary Graduation Ceremony. Not only are we thrilled to celebrate with our resident theology and ABTS online students, but we are very excited as this is IMES’ second year to graduate students from our Master of Religion in Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MRel in MENA Studies) program!

Having completed four core modules (MENA Islam; MENA History, Politics and Economics; MENA Christianity; and MENA Cultures), essential language learning, electives, and the MRel Final Project, our students have done remarkable work to make it to this point and have every right to be incredibly proud of themselves and their accomplishments. For our part, we at IMES are extremely proud of our graduates.

With regard to her experience, one of our soon to be graduates writes:

My time in the MRel program proved to be an extremely formative period in my life. Not only did it spur my growth both academically and spiritually, but it dramatically shifted the course of my life and ministry. It opened my eyes to realities and opportunities in the region previously unseen, while also providing me with a conceptual framework and analytical tools to engage in new and unexpected ways. It broadened my horizons from a Kingdom perspective, which has bled into every other area of my life. Moreover, I cannot overestimate the value of the relationships that were formed. I was challenged and inspired by my classmates, and was surrounded by faculty who supported and catalyzed my development. Looking back, I don’t think I could have ever predicted how such a simple decision would launch me on such a transformative journey, and I will forever be grateful to the faculty and staff who made that possible.

The MRel in MENA Studies program is a unique and innovative multidisciplinary program based in the MENA region. This postgraduate degree focuses on providing a strong theoretical understanding of the region and the issues that it faces, combined with an emphasis on developing applied skills needed to work in the region and among MENA communities worldwide. It is based upon a strong theological and Biblical framework in that each module weaves scripture and theology into its theory and practice.

3) MRel in MENA Studies: MENA History, Politics and Economics Residency (26 June –  7 July)

Capture MRel 2015Immediately following both MEC 2017 and the ABTS graduation ceremony, students in IMES’s MRel in MENA Studies program begin two very full weeks for the residency portion of their MENA History, Politics and Economics module, under the supervision of Dr. Rupen Das. As lead faculty for the MENA History, Politics and Economics module Dr. Das will be assisted by Jesse Wheeler as support instructor and Elias Ghazal as holistic formation instructor.

The MENA History, Politics and Economics module seeks to develop an inter‐disciplinary understanding of the historical, political and economic dynamics that have shaped the contemporary Middle East and North Africa. This course looks at the formative historical developments of the modern era, major macroeconomic issues at present, and the complexities of regional poverty. It seeks also to explore the manner by which such realities intersect with the idea of the Kingdom of God, as a lens through which to understand and engage with the contemporary MENA. As part of the residency, students will gain training in contextual analysis, needs assessment and problem analysis, project design (developing the logic for change), and peace-building frameworks and strategies, as well visit special ministry, NGO and historical sites and learn first-hand from a variety of practitioners in the region.

During their residency, students and faculty will be together in the same location for a unique and intensive learning experience, all the while gaining critical insight into the rich historical, cultural, and religious heritage of the Middle East. Instruction and learning is accomplished through a blended delivery system combining 2-week residencies and the use of distance learning technologies that facilitate discussion and feedback.

Click here for more information about IMES’ Master of Religion in MENA Studies program. Click here to apply for the upcoming MENA Christianity module beginning Fall 2017.

4) Khebz w Meleh (“Bread and Salt”)

KwM

Finally, IMES is proud to continue its Khebz w Meleh (KwM) initiative throughout the summer months. Young people today are growing up in a country surrounded by different faiths yet often lead separate lives. As a result, Christian and Muslim young people can experience barriers of ignorance, fear and mistrust in their communities, which sometimes progress into hostility or conflict. KwM, an IMES peacebuilding initiative, seeks to bring together young people from different faith communities to discuss their faith around a shared meal, empower them to spearhead social change within their communities, and build authentic relationships in the process.

KwM is all about…

  • Exploring faith: young people are encouraged and equipped to discuss their faith in ways which draw out both the similarities and differences between them.
  • Creating friendships: by bringing together young people in a positive and fun environment we provide the opportunities for them to get to know one another, work on projects together and build ongoing friendship built on trust and respect.
  • Changing lives: having been to events run by KwM the young people are challenged and enabled to live out the lessons they have learnt in their everyday lives amongst their friends, family and the wider community.

We at IMES are very much looking forward to the coming weeks and in interacting once again with our friends, students and partners and in making new acquaintances in our efforts to bring about positive transformation in thinking and practice between Christians and Muslims within and beyond the MENA region.

Middle East Immersion: Learn. Serve. Experience the Middle East!

What is the Middle East Immersion?

The Middle East Immersion (MEI) is a six-week intensive practicum designed for students from beyond the region wanting to experience firsthand the opportunities and challenges of Christian service in the Middle East. Under the mentorship of respected scholars and experienced practitioners, students in the MEI program practice intercultural work in a dynamic context and engage in mutual learning between Christian and Muslim communities.

Centered on critically reflective practice, MEI provides students an opportunity to earn academic credit and fulfill practicum requirements while being exposed to the language, peoples and cultures of one of the region’s most vibrant cities.

MEI 2017 begins 19 June in Beirut, Lebanon, and runs through July. Continue reading

Middle East Consultation 2017 – Apply Today!

from-arthur-mec17-poster

Click Here to Apply

The Institute of Middle East Studies is pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications to attend Middle East Consultation 2017 – The Church in Disorienting Times: Leading Prophetically through Adversity. Please click on the above link to apply.

Disorienting Times

We live in disorienting times. This is a reality for the church in many parts of the world today, not least the church of the Middle East. Many factors, historical and social, have reduced the church to the status of minority, in which persecution and hopelessness have become a reality for many. How must our theology inform our response?

During Middle East Consultation 2017 (MEC 2017), participants will seek to discern a Biblical framework that avoids both self-victimization and triumphalism and encourages the church to prophetically embrace adversity in a way that activates growth and development rather than discouragement and stagnation.

MEC 2017 provides a unique context for the MENA and global church to address a range of critical issues, such as persecution and suffering, minoritisation, hopelessness and despair, and emigration. Together we will explore how the Body of Christ can best respond to such challenges, exploring Biblical and theological responses when confronted with adversity.

The Four Core Themes of MEC 2017

Each of the initial four days will have a particular focus, with all contributions being based on the daily theme. Continue reading

Middle East Consultation 2014: Real Stories of Discipleship in the Middle East and North Africa

Last week marked completion of the Middle East Consultation 2014Discipleship Today: Following Jesus in the Middle East and North Africa that took place from 16 – 20 June. This year we were pleased to have an unprecedented number participants, 170 in total, who came from all over the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, and North and South America.

It has been a very exciting week in which we have been able to listen to stories about discipleship in the context of our region. Please find below a sampling of what participants have been saying of their consultation experience and its significance them and their ministry settings.

Dr. J. Andrew Kirk, UK:

“Each community should develop its own contextualized theology which submits to the global theology of the Body of Christ, and this is exactly what this consultation is allowing us to do. Keeping lines of communication between different churches and movements open to the global church, allowing us to have insights and look at parallels in different contexts but all resembling the work of God on earth and the one Body of Christ.”

Alex, West Africa:

“The most significant part of MEC this year was the opportunity to listen to testimonies from various parts of the world and the exchange of stories about what God is doing in different parts of the world, which one doesn’t always get the chance to know about from a local’s perspective and experience. Each story and experience was truly unique. This will help me a lot in my work which involves contextual ministries, as it has provoked my mind to adjust my ministry as there is more than one way to share the gospel with others. I could see people from other cultures at the consultation who were challenged by what they heard, because for some it was the first time they got an insight of what is going on in this part of the world, but these stories will be food for thought for them.”

Gail, USA:

“We have a saying in the states: ‘Measure twice, cut once’ – I would say MEC 2014 taught me one important thing as a religious worker: we need to listen twice before we speak in order to better serve others and help the church be prepared to disciple believers. I thought I knew enough about the region, but listening to personal stories showed me how the discipleship experience is unique in each Arab country.”

Tamer, Sudan:

“This consultation confirmed the need for discipleship training for those who have a discipleship ministry. One of the ideas that was important to me was that the church and believers have a role in being the buffering zone between church and the original community of the new believer – helping them remain in their indigenous environment while also helping them become rooted in their Christ-centered identity. This consultation made me realize how much discipleship is like raising up children, each with his or her unique identity but all from the same family.”

Zack, Algeria:

“It is the first time that I met with followers of Christ from so many different countries and cultures. Before the MEC 2014, I never knew Christians and new believers had different problems in different areas of the world. I have never personally faced a crisis with my identity in Christ vs. my culture and community; however, I discovered that Arab believers from other Arab countries are going through a great identity crises stage because of a lack of one-on-one discipleship and that it is harder in their countries than it is in mine. This has made me realize that we cannot set up a uniform discipleship program for the Arab world as a whole because each country and community is unique and needs its own program which respects the individualistic needs of the group.”

Amir, Egypt:

“During this week, I was able to see the work of God spreading all over the Middle East and North Africa. This has enabled me to thank God because I have been able to see the positive aspect of this hardship and turmoil that our region has been going through which is contributing to the growth of the gospel. I have also seen the great need for the church to live up to its role in encouraging its congregations and motivating them to be part of God’s work. The participation of so many different cultures enriches the cultural exchange and gives a fuller picture about discipleship in this region through people’s experiences and not just theological theories. It has opened up many discussions without giving a methodology for discipleship, but instead giving case-studies that make us pause a little and reconsider our approach to ministry. And, it has inspired us to take responsibility for new believers.”

Dr. Rosalee Velloso Ewell, Brazil:

“What is unique about this gathering is the way it has blended and brought together both theological reflection and stories from the grassroots. This has made it quite a unique consultation. Usually, theoretical and practical are not in such a conversation. It is an excellent way to equip and include the participants in what is going on in the region. The participants are hearing from one another. The table groups makes it a working consultation, instead of passive listening – and that is very important.”

We praise God for such a blessed week of hearing exciting stories from all over the Arab world, and we look forward to next year’s Middle East Consultation wherein we will continue this important and groundbreaking discussion.

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You may also be interested in the following link from our friends at EthicsDaily.com: Ethics Daily Interviews IMES Director Martin Accad about MEC 2014.

What’s Happening at IMES this June?

Without question, June is consistently our busiest month of the year at the Institute of Middle East Studies. As such, we wish to highlight a number of the projects that we have been working on as we seek to fulfill our institutional mandate: To bring about positive transformation in thinking and practice between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East and beyond.

1) Middle East Consultation 2014 – Discipleship Today: Following Jesus in the Middle East and North Africa (June 16-20)

MEC-FINAL-FlyerThe purpose of the Middle East Consultation (MEC) is: To equip participants to respond in prophetic and Christ-like ways to the many challenges facing Christians and Muslims in and beyond the Middle East.

The core of MEC 2014 will consist of listening to narratives and stories emerging from within the MENA region in an effort to best identify the challenges and opportunities facing the regional church. We will hear first-hand from those who have practiced and been influenced by various approaches to discipleship, with varying degrees of fruitfulness in the region. MEC 2014 will then provide an opportunity to reflect upon and analyze the diverse social and religious dynamics at hand, asking how the church might best assist individuals and communities to live as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

To assist us in this process we have invited: Dr. J. Dudley Woodberry, Dean Emeritus of the School of Intercultural Studies and Senior Professor of Islamic Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary; Dr. Rosalee Velloso Ewell, Executive Director of the Theological Commission for the World Evangelical Alliance; Dr. John A. Azumah, Associate Professor of World Christianity and Islam, Columbia Theological Seminary; Dr. Louisa Cox, Consultant on Intercultural Relations; and Dr. J. Andrew Kirk, Senior Research Fellow, International Baptist Theological Seminary, and Dean Emeritus of the School of Mission and World Christianity, Selly Oaks Colleges, Birmingham. In keeping with the IMES ethos and MEC tradition, we will also be inviting Muslim voices to contribute to this important conversation, during specific interfaith sessions.

Building upon 10 years of successful Middle East Conferences, IMES is pleased to announce a fresh focus for 2014 in partnership with Near East Initiatives (NEI). The Middle East Consultation exists to help practitioners, scholars, pastors, teachers, missionaries, and faith-based NGO workers explore what God has been doing throughout the Middle East & North Africa. For additional information, please contact: IMES@abtslebanon.org.

2) Middle East Immersion, Lebanon 2014 (June 16 – July 18)

Digital-MEI-Flyer

Middle East Immersion (MEI), Lebanon provides international students the opportunity to practice intercultural work in a dynamic context and engage in mutual learning between Christian and Muslim communities. Graduate seminary and intercultural studies students have the opportunity to earn up to 12 credits of coursework in fulfillment of intercultural practicum requirements, while being exposed to Muslim-Christian relations in the context of Lebanon.

Now in its 8th year, MEI Lebanon has hosted international students from Fuller Theological Seminary, Truett Theological Seminary, Talbot School of Theology, Bethel Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, among others, who have come to spend their summers in Lebanon and study under the guidance of IMES Leadership. While in Lebanon, students participate in the following:

  • The Middle East Consultation 2014 – Discipleship Today: Following Jesus in the Middle East and North Africa
  • Intensive Levantine-Arabic language study with the Academy of Language and Practicum Skill (ALPS)
  • A cross-cultural immersion experience/practicum placement meeting the specific interests and skills of the student
  • Field visits, weekend excursions, church and mosque visits, and extra activities throughout Beirut and Lebanon

For students or institutions interested in learning more about IMES’s Middle East Immersion program, please follow the appropriate links: Program Overview/Testimonials/Academics/Faculty/Admissions.

3) MRel in MENA Studies – Christianity Module Residency (June 23-July 4)

MRel Brocure ImageImmediately following MEC2014, students in IMES’s Master of Religion in Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MRel in MENA Studies) program begin two very full weeks for the residency portion of their MENA Christianity module, under the supervision of IMES Director Martin Accad. As lead faculty for the MENA Christianity module, Dr. Accad will be assisted by Mike Kuhn as support faculty and Eastern Orthodox monk Fr. Elia Khalifeh as holistic formation faculty.

MENA Christianity seeks to develop within students a deep appreciation for and command of the thinking and practice of the Christian East, its traditions, history, and creeds, as well as its unity and division. We seek to instill a passionate desire to engage and interact positively, creatively, and in mutual trust, with the Christians of the MENA region – to the point that they are able to communicate together a common passion for Jesus that leads to cooperative witness in the MENA region. Students will be instructed in the ability to articulate Christian doctrine using a contextually-appropriate contemporary idiom within the broad lines of historical orthodoxy, approaches and skills for Christian-Christian relations, the ability to develop strategies for inter-church cooperation, and peace-building and conflict transformation strategies.

During their residency, students and faculty will be together in the same location for a unique and intensive learning experience, all the while being exposed to the rich historical, cultural, and religious heritage of the Middle East. As part of their residency, students from as far away as Brazil, Cyprus, the U.K., Korea, the U.S., Egypt, the Netherlands, and of course Lebanon itself will be studying the MENA region…within the MENA region!

For more information about the MRel in MENA Studies program, please follow the appropriate links: Program Overview/Academic Flow and Delivery Format/Core Instructional Modules/Faculty/Application Documents

4) Special Event – “The Great Omission: How Christian Missions Transformed the World” (June 17)

Dr. Robert Woodberry

Dr. Robert Woodberry

It has become commonplace, and all too easy, to malign the efforts of the early protestant missionary movement with accusations of colonialism and shocking examples of cultural insensitivity. Whilst there have been terrible abuses in the name of ‘mission’, Robert Woodberry’s ground breaking research has provided a solid foundation for a different narrative, a narrative which cannot now be ignored.

Published in the American Political Science Review in May 2012, and based on some of the most extensive research ever conducted in this field, Woodberry has been able to clearly demonstrate that ‘areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations’.

His extensive article ‘The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy’ is a game-changer in the study of mission history, and economic development. Woodberry suggests that perhaps we should try to learn why missionaries seem to have been so effective at promoting economic development, even though that was not their primary goal’.

The Institute of Middle East Studies is pleased to announce that it will be hosting an event in which Dr. Robert Woodberry will be presenting elements of his research. The event will take place on Tuesday 17th June at 7:30pm at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, Mansourieh. What has been the impact of protestant missionary activity in Lebanon? Protestant pastor and historian of Eastern Christianity Rev. Habib Badr will be providing a local response to Woodberry in what promises to be an important opportunity to reflect on the role of mission within the Lebanese context and more widely.

5) ABTS Graduation Ceremony (June 22)

resizedAlthough not specifically an IMES event (at least until our first MRel students graduate next year), as a department of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, IMES is very proud of this year’s seventeen Department of Theology graduates and wish them nothing but joy in their future lives and vocations. (Many of us also teach for the Department of Theology.)

Students from as far away as Morocco, Iraq, and everywhere in-between have come to ABTS to study the Bible, theology, and ministry in the Arabic language. In fulfillment of its vision and mission, the ABTS Department of Theology offers the following degree programs:

  • Certificate of Theology (CertTh)
  • Diploma of Theology (DipTh)
  • Bachelor of Theology (BTh)
  • Master of Divinity (MDiv)

Once again, IMES is very proud of this year’s theology graduates and wish them great joy in their future lives and vocations. To learn more about ABTS’s theology programs, please follow the links below:

ABTS Website (Arabic)/ABTS Website (English)

Discipleship Today: Following Jesus in the Middle East and North Africa (Middle East Consultation 2014) – UPDATE

MEC-heading

The Institute of Middle East Studies is pleased to announce the following contributors to this year’s Middle East Consultation (MEC 2014), taking place 16 – 20 June at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, Beirut. These individuals will assist consultation participants to reflect upon and process the critical themes which emerge from the narratives being shared by local and regional voices, as well as provide a global perspective on key theological and missiological issues related to the practice of discipleship.

Dr. J. Dudley Woodberry, Dean Emeritus of the School of Intercultural Studies and Senior Professor of Islamic Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary.

Dr. Rosalee Velloso Ewell, Executive Director of the Theological Commission for the World Evangelical Alliance.

Dr. John A. Azumah, Associate Professor of World Christianity and Islam, Columbia Theological Seminary.

Dr. J. Andrew Kirk, Senior Research Fellow, International Baptist Theological Seminary, and Dean Emeritus of the School of Mission and World Christianity, Selly Oaks Colleges, Birmingham.

Dr. Louisa Cox, Consultant on Intercultural Relations.

At various points during the week, each will also be asked to present on a specific topic related to Christ-centered discipleship, including biblical and theological definitions of discipleship, identity formation, socio-cultural implications of discipleship, as well as past, present and future approaches to discipleship in the MENA context.

The core of MEC 2014 will consist of listening to narratives and stories emerging from within the MENA region in an effort to best identify the challenges and opportunities facing the regional church. MEC 2014 will provide an opportunity to reflect upon and analyze the diverse social and religious dynamics at hand, asking how the church might best assist individuals and communities to live as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

Throughout MEC 2014 we will hear first-hand from those who have practiced and been influenced by various approaches to discipleship, with varying degrees of fruitfulness within the region. We will also hold daily ‘round-table discussions’, involving all MEC participants, regional presenters and global missiologists, in order to allow for personal engagement with the emerging themes of the consultation.

In keeping with the IMES ethos and MEC tradition, we will be inviting Muslim voices to contribute to this important conversation, during specific sessions. This provides us with the opportunity to listen to and interact with alternative perspectives that may challenge our current perceptions.

MEC 2014 promises to be a unique and fascinating consultation!

During the consultation, IMES will also be hosting a special event featuring Dr. Robert Woodberry, who will be giving a keynote lecture based on his research, and recently published article, “The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy.” Details of this unique opportunity will become available over the coming weeks and months.

The purpose of the Middle East Consultation [MEC] is to equip participants to respond in prophetic and Christ-like ways to the many challenges facing Christians and Muslims in and beyond the Middle East. MEC 2014 was developed to help practitioners, scholars, pastors, teachers, missionaries, and faith-based NGO workers explore what God has been doing throughout the Middle East & North Africa [MENA].

The Mandate of IMES is to bring about positive transformation in thinking and practice between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East and beyond, through education, advocacy, and peace-building initiatives. IMES is responding to the increasingly urgent need to dispel mutually false perceptions between peoples of different religions and cultures, which eventually result in inadequate practice in social, religious, political, and personal spheres. As such, IMES seeks to increase general awareness about MENA realities and to resource Evangelicals to serve specific needs in the Arab context and among Arab communities worldwide.

If you are interested in attending MEC 2014, please contact IMES@abtslebanon.org.

Discipleship Today: Following Jesus in the Middle East and North Africa (Middle East Consultation 2014)

MEC-heading

16 – 20 June 2014

 The purpose of the Middle East Consultation [MEC] is to equip participants to respond in prophetic and Christ-like ways to the many challenges facing Christians and Muslims in and beyond the Middle East.

The core of MEC 2014 will consist of listening to narratives and stories emerging from within the MENA region in an effort to best identify the challenges and opportunities facing the regional church. MEC 2014 will provide an opportunity to reflect upon and analyze the diverse social and religious dynamics at hand, asking how the church might best assist individuals and communities to live as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

Throughout MEC 2014 we will hear first-hand from those who have practiced and been influenced by various approaches to discipleship, with varying degrees of fruitfulness within the region. In keeping with the IMES ethos and with the MEC tradition, we will be inviting Muslim voices to contribute to this important conversation, during specific sessions. This will provide us with the opportunity to listen to and interact with alternative perspectives that may challenge our current perceptions.

Building upon 10 years of successful Middle East Conferences, the Institute of Middle East Studies (IMES) is pleased to announce a fresh focus for 2014 in partnership with Near East Initiatives (NEI). The Middle East Consultation exists to help practitioners, scholars, pastors, teachers, missionaries, and faith-based NGO workers explore what God has been doing throughout the Middle East & North Africa [MENA].

MEC-FINAL-Flyer

The Mandate of IMES is to bring about positive transformation in thinking and practice between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East and beyond through education, advocacy, and peace-building initiatives. IMES is responding to the increasingly urgent need to dispel mutually false perceptions between peoples of different religions and cultures, which eventually result in inadequate practice in social, religious, political, and personal spheres. As such, IMES seeks to increase general awareness about MENA realities and to resource Evangelicals to serve specific needs in the Arab context and among Arab communities worldwide.

For more information and to apply, please write to us at IMES@abtslebanon.org.