Congratulations 2012 ABTS Graduates!
Samar & Arkan – She is Lebanese, he is Iraqi. Both graduate with a Master of Divinity
Samar: Our vision for ministry has always been evangelism and discipleship; a vision that further developed and strengthened during our time here. We’re simply more passionate about what we were doing. Before starting my studies here I had somewhat of a separation between theology and practice. Now I see things differently; it is about living Kingdom values everyday; spreading the Kingdom holistically. So, my training at ABTS made me see things from a new perspective. After graduation, my husband Arkan and I will continue to be involved in evangelism and discipleship through our church as well as through a missions organization.
For those considering studying theology, you will be molded and shaped and broken and molded again. It’s tough but it is three years of your life that shape you and make you grow. Theology puts you on fire for ministry because when you are learning things you are eager to put them into practice. It’s like a furnace in your head, cooking. And you start applying the things that you have learned without even noticing. It’s been an amazing blessing. We remain very thankful to ABTS and the generosity of those who have supported us.
ABTS is a wonderful tool God is using to further His Kingdom. I encourage women even more than men to study theology because these days women are discovering their gifts and realizing that they have a place in ministry so the time is now to become as effective as possible in spreading the Kingdom and not just be spectators. The image of the Lord is in us just as much as in men so we need to be faithful in reflecting God to others.
Following our graduation, we will be involved through our church in evangelism as well as tutoring students for their Brevet exam (a national exam given at the end of grade 9) so that students won’t drop out of school. I will also be involved in making home visits.
The highlight of our three years here would definitely be the relationships we made which will be forever. We became a family. The way you grow because of these relationships is exceptional and I believe it is a glimpse of what heaven is like. I feel like this year I went deeper with God and was able to see His history with people in a big picture and I want to be a part of His mission for the world.
Arkan: Coming to ABTS has really empowered my vision 100%. My wife and I have been taught, discipled, equipped, and trained to pursue our vision for Evangelism and discipleship.
I really fell in love with ABTS. I believe in its ministry. I’ve been changing everyday on account of being here. It’s been a real time of personal growth and stretching under pressure. I’ve had to learn time management the hard way, balancing ministry with studies, and this is a useful lesson for me as I will later have to balance ministry with work.
There have been many highlights for me and these include the Middle East Conference on the topic of Arab Youth; the Discipleship module taught by professor Douglas Ley; and the Kingdom of God module which has really stretched me. Also, everything we’re learning we’re seeing firsthand because we are not just studying but involved in ministry on a weekly basis such that as we learn things we pour them directly into the church.
If I were to give advice to someone involved in ministry who is considering studying theology I would say you definitely need to do it but pray and fast before your decision. It is difficult but you will receive so much more than you give. I am very thankful for this experience.
Nabila & Hana - Both from Sudan, though she grew up in Yemen. Both graduate with a Post-graduate Certificate in Theology
Nabila: Coming to ABTS we were mostly interested in learning about discipleship, house groups, and how to work with new believers that we may better serve the Lord in Sudan. Prior to that I was a bookkeeper and Hana, my husband, was a Quality Control Production Manager for an oil company. Because of my pregnancy, we will now be returning to Sudan this year directly following the completion of the Post-Graduate Certificate in Theology. However, it is our hope and plan to return after the baby is born to complete a second and third year and fulfill the requirements for a Master of Divinity.
I used to think that theology was only about the Bible but when I came here I was challenged with the idea that theology is really about all of life. One highlight for me was the friendships we developed. We got to learn from our professors in a personal way as well as from the other students coming from different cultures. Even just to make friends while away from Sudan was a wonderful, new experience.
I believe that women in Sudan have a very important role in ministry - much larger than the current scope they’re involved in. I encourage as many women as possible to study theology to feel empowered and recognize the powerful role that we have.
Hana’s and my long-term vision is to start a discipleship school starting from our local church. If all goes well, it would become a school not just for Sudan but for the entire region. My vision is mostly with evangelism and ministry among non-believers whereas Hana’s is mostly with discipleship. So it fits together well that once my ministry is done, his begins.
Hana: It’s been quite a new cross-cultural experience. Also, each module I took at ABTS contained something new for me. For instance, the Church History module taught me the importance of discipling new believers especially to guard against unbiblical teachings. I want to go back to with sound doctrine in order to disciple others.
I benefited a lot through the course on Biblical Interpretation because back home we often pay little attention to the context of a passage and I learned how important the context is to correctly interpret the meaning of a passage.
Theology is important for ministry because it challenges people to not just do things the way they know, but rather learn how to make sure those ways are rooted in the Bible. I encourage those involved in ministry to study theology.
Razika & Mouloud - From Algeria. Both graduate with a Certificate in Theology
Razika: I learnt at ABTS how to share the Good News with people of different backgrounds. I go back to my country with the desire to encourage more women to train and study theology especially since not many women are getting such empowering training. This year at ABTS has really made us more eager to serve.
Mouloud: Prior to coming to ABTS I used to think that the church should not be involved in the community but now I realize how important it is for the Church to be missional. As we go back home, it is our vision to help the Church develop leaders, equip them and send them out to local churches to train others and address the respective needs. We’ve been greatly impacted by ABTS’ curriculum and so go back with a plan to implement a similar one as we train others. Our favorite courses include the Art of Teaching, Hermeneutics, Missional Church…
Moreover, my wife and I learnt here how to work with people from different cultures and backgrounds and this skill too will be of great use to us as we work with others. It is so essential for people in ministry to study theology. Indeed, Razika and I would like to further our education when possible.
Marsa & Ashraf - From Egypt. She graduates with a Certificate in Theology, and he with a Bachelor of Theology
Marsa: I believe the most valuable lesson I learned while studying in Lebanon was to not judge others before really hearing them out and also to respect other cultures.These I learnt through the interaction during lectures. On an academic level, I gained biblical knowledge and a new and deeper understanding of theological principles. Mostly I feel I learned through practice instead of just theories. We would often gather together with other students to pray for and support each other. Being away from home is not easy. Sometimes we ran into difficulties, for example with our children in school, but God was always there with us carrying us through everything.
I am totally overwhelmed by the love that we’ve experienced here not just from other students but also from the staff and faculty as well. It felt like a family; we felt always supported and encouraged and they would often ask about us, which made us feel cared about.
I encourage all those involved in ministry to study theology because they will be better able to tackle the problems that come up in their ministries. As a woman, I encourage women to study theology as well but I would also want to warn them that it would not be easy, especially if they have kids. But if there’s anything to learn from my experience it is that God will be with you throughout all your difficulties. To be a mother and a student is truly a one-of-a-kind experience!
Ashraf: At ABTS I learned many things including how to interpret the Bible in its original language which has helped me in my life’s mission to fulfill 2 Timothy 2:15.I also was challenged in many ways. For instance, I used to see church leadership as one person leading a group of followers but now feel strongly that instead it should be enabling future leaders and not just relying on one person. I also used to believe that women should not have a speaking role in church and that the church shouldremain separate from the wider community instead of being involved in bringing the Good News to others. I had many misconceptions and now I’m eager to go back to Egypt and share all that I have learned. I not only recommend people in ministry to study theology but find it very necessary to help them build a strong foundation on which to base their decisions.
Ara - From Iraq, graduates with a Master of Divinity
I knew I was gifted in pastoral care/teaching so I focused accordingly at ABTS.
Back home, the missional dimension of the church is quite weak. I learned the importance of this at ABTS and look forward to sharing what I have learned when I return to Iraq, where I will pastor a church.
A highlight of my time at ABTS was building relationships with non-Iraqis and getting to know a new way of thinking different than my own. The studies here also gave me a deeper biblical knowledge that further matured my faith. My personality and character changed a lot too. I notice that I am now much more patient and open-minded toward others who are different than me, which I know is good for my own personal development as well as needed qualities in a pastor.
In Iraq, pastors tend to grow into the position through experience, without necessarily having much theological knowledge. I’m looking forward to going home and finding potential leaders in the church and training them for ministry. I would definitely encourage people to study theology as I consider my experience that of a lifetime that I will never forget. However, they need to have a true calling otherwise it will be very difficult.
Barnaba - From Sudan, graduates with a Bachelor of Theology
My vision when I came to ABTS was related to evangelism, as I was in charge of the evangelism office at my church back in Sudan. In one sense this is still my passion but during my time at ABTS the Lord has made me passionate about youth ministry particularly since the youth of today are tomorrow’s leaders.
Probably the most important things I learnt while at ABTS are the values on which I base my life and which have helped me both at the personal level as well as in my ministry. I thoroughly enjoyed connecting with new people, a new culture and environment. Studying theology is not easy but is essential for people involved in ministry as it has a practical dimension - which is why it won’t work for people who are not involved in ministry.
I don’t have clear plans yet for what I will be involved in when I go back to Sudan but I will definitely go back to my sending church and wait on the Lord for His guidance.
Abed - From Lebanon, graduates with a Master of Divinity
I am in charge of the Youth Ministry program for the Nazarene Church in Lebanon and the Middle East region. Before that, I was praying that God would clarify things in my life and open a door for me to be involved in ministry.
Now that I’ve finished my MDiv at ABTS I’m thinking of pursuing a D.Min. that I may teach theology in the future. One lesson that I learned over the last couple of years is that learning theology is not important but applying theology is. What I really appreciated about ABTS is that I feel it is balanced in its theology.
As I look back at the years of my study at ABTS, I think of the challenge I faced daily when, because I don’t have a car, I would arrive to ABTS after a long journey, tired, hungry, sometimes sweaty, attend my classes and go home. However, rather than be worn out, God gave me the stamina and strength to keep going.
I would recommend those in ministry who haven’t studied theology to do so because there is a great need to integrate practical and theological knowledge. Many people speak out of their own experiences but not enough people speak out of a genuine knowledge of the Bible.
Now that I’ve finished my studies at ABTS, I’ll be involved in the TEACH/LEARN program for the development of theological courses for distance learning. I’m looking forward to it.
Rasha - From Lebanon, graduates with a Bachelor of Theology
Throughout my time here I felt God with me as never before, especially through tough times. The Kingdom Ethics course taught me to treat people as Christ did - which is something that I wouldn’t have learnt had I stayed back in my village.
Theology brought me closer to Jesus, and I encourage people to study it. Moreover, the people here played a key role in shaping my character. Indeed, a highlight of my time at ABTS was definitely the relationships I built.
My vision for ministry is directly related to that of my husband, Amal, who is also studying at ABTS. We have a heart to work amongst drug addicts which is why I am currently considering continuing my studies, possibly in the field of psychology or counseling to better help them.
Date: 6/1/2012 1:18:30 PM
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