It has been a long time since we sat down to write to you, but you are in our hearts and prayers. Many of you have written to us, and we are sure of your prayers for all us. We are grateful!
We are doing fine by God’s grace, though we are living in a very unique time in history! Indeed, it is very challenging to keep up with the rapid changes that we go through. But we trust in our Rock who never changes, and rely in his promise, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46: 10).
From time to time, we try to take a break. So, we had the opportunity to spend the eastern Christmas with Emad’s family in Egypt. This was the first Christmas that the boys spent with the family ever!
During our visit to Egypt, we took the boys on a trip to visit Luxor and Aswan in upper Egypt. Luxor has one third of the world’s ancient ruins. We enjoyed the Nubian culture, food and people of Aswan. It was a mix between history, culture, and being on the Nile. Timothy did not miss the opportunity to swim in the Nile in December, leading the way for many others to follow him J!
Life in Lebanon continues to be a struggle for people to secure basic needs. Lebanon’s latest economic crisis is getting worse since the war between Russia and Ukraine started. I am sure all of you are struggling as well, whether emotionally or financially. Here too, people are not able to afford the price of fuel, which impacts every aspect of their life, as well as having a shortage of wheat. With the fluctuation of currency and the price of fuel changes on almost a daily basis, we have days where gas stations are closed.
Honestly, some days are harder than the others, and it is very distracting and emotionally draining. However, we cope fine by God’s grace and your prayers. Please continue praying for us as a family to be able to find strength in God’s grace, and that we experience God in news ways during these difficult times.
As for the boys, we are at a new stage, where we are helping Timothy to prepare for university and Nathaniel to cope with everything else going around. Timothy will be going to university next year, and of course, this matter raises lots of questions, mainly with the possibility that Timothy might be studying in Canada while we are continuing our ministry in Lebanon. Please pray for Nathaniel to have peace in heart and mind and for God’s guidance to Timothy as he is trying to discover what God has in store for him in terms of undergraduate studies.
It is our main job to help Timothy finding a place for his study when we visit Canada this summer. Yes, we will be visiting Canada this summer, after being away for almost 5 years! Our visit will mainly be to take a time away from the field to rest and to help Tim search for a university.
We are thankful for the new Integrated Theology Program students who enrolled in November starting with their Arabic studies. We had been eagerly waiting for them to join us in Lebanon for their first two-week residency, but with the spike in covid-19 cases, that was not possible. So, from January 24 to February 15, our new students joined us virtually instead. We were thrilled to meet them and listen to their incredible stories of God’s work in places like Lebanon, Morocco, Egypt, Sudan, and South Sudan. The students, in turn, expressed how meeting the ABTS community made them feel even more excited about theological training and reminded them of the commitment that accompanies it.
Yaacoub, our new student from Morocco, serves the Lord at his local home church. He shared, “Although I am still a new student at ABTS, I can already tell that studying alongside brothers and sisters from different Arab countries will be an enriching experience. I am thankful for the leadership of the academic team. I have experienced their thoughtfulness, care, and love, especially during the residency. The team has truly made me more excited about studying theology. I am very happy, and I pray that studying at ABTS would make a visible change in me so that I faithfully serve the Lord.”
Abednego, our new student from Sudan, serves children in the Nuba Mountains. He shared: “The residency was delightful and well structured. One of the most important things I learned from it is that studying theology is not about having a good grasp of biblical stories and truths just so I can retell them to others. It is about the embodiment of God’s word in my life first and then in the lives of others. I hope that, through studying theology, I would love the Lord more deeply and serve others better as a result of God’s work in my life.”
During their third and final week, Emad introduced the students to research methodology. Emad shared that, as we teach the Research Methodology course, our focus is not only on the conceptual and practical research skills, but also, on the qualities of humility, honesty, and developing greater passion for studying and growth. In this sense, learning becomes a lifestyle as they lead and serve the Church in the MENA Region. If you would like to read more stories and other activities related to our ministry in the Seminary, please read ABTS Newsletter.
Pray for the people of Lebanon in this critical time, asking our Lord to comfort the whole country, particularly those who lost their loved ones. May this Mourning Day lead people to remember God as their Refuge. May the Resurrected Christ grant the younger generation hope while they are experiencing disappointment, frustration and disillusion.
Reading the Bible in the context of Islam
As you know, I have been the Facilitator for the Genesis Commentary in Bangladesh context. The English version of this commentary has been submitted to Langham publishers. This is a great news! Meanwhile, I am in the last phase of finishing a commentary on Jonah. The deadline is June 2022. Please pray for those who will read these commentaries.
Almess’ Online Tutoring Ministry
Almess enthusiastically continues her online tutoring ministry. She enjoys having conversations with students related to their personal life, ministry, and studying. Here is one of the stories from one of our Certificate Online Program students, Geylan from Syria.
My husband, kids and I used to live in Aleppo. When the war broke out in 2011, we left Aleppo and took refuge in Afrin. In 2018, when the Turkish forces raided Afrin, and the war broke out there, my daughter started having epileptic seizures at the loud sounds of explosions. We had to flee Afrin and, once more, return to Aleppo. When my husband was about to be taken into mandatory military conscription, we fled to Lebanon.
In Lebanon, we came across a Kurdish speaking church service led by ABTS graduate Nabou Abbas. I was a non-Christian, but my husband had already begun attending the church. “You will feel so peaceful if you go,” he would tell me.
It was a struggle for me since I grew up believing that Christ did not die and rise again. After discussing the matter with my husband, we agreed that we would seek God together. We didn’t just want the truth revealed in a dream. We asked God to reveal it to us in a tangible way. The next day, my husband called me from work and asked me to go outside. It was around 3pm at that time, and yet, the sky was so dark!
We had seen how darkness fell upon the earth as Jesus died on the cross in a film about Jesus, so we both believed that this was a sign from God. We began to attend Bible studies at church, and as the pastor spoke about Jesus’ divinity, I could not accept his words. I didn’t share my concerns with my husband; I prayed alone. I was sure that God would reveal the truth to me.
As I prayed, I asked God why He had allowed us to go through wars and lose our home. I asked Him if Jesus was really God. Then, as I slept, I saw my spirit leave my body and ascend high up. As I watched my body from above, I saw a white object glimmering brightly. To my right, I saw a cross, and before me, I saw a tree. The names of the prophets were written on that tree. Then, I heard a voice say, “This is the cross on which my Son gave Himself for you. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Follow Him.”
One Sunday, there was a celebration at a church that a non-Christian religious leader attended. After the meeting, the pastor honored the religious leader and gave him a Bible. While giving his thank you speech, he said that he didn’t fully understand the Kurdish language, but that he was happy to take the Bible and that all the nations of the earth should know the way of Jesus. Being a non-Christian myself, his words held much significance. All people should know Jesus, even the religious leader who uttered those words.
During one meeting, I asked my friend to pray that God shows me the meaning of the dream. She held my hand and as she said, “we are the salt of the earth”, that same vision flashed before me as I closed my eyes in prayer. I finally understood what that glimmering white object was. I saw that God wanted me to be the salt of the earth and to preach Jesus’ name to my people.
When we opened our eyes, I was smiling from ear to ear. “Were you laughing at me?” my friend asked, but I explained that God was showing me new things about what the dream meant. Whenever they prayed for me at church, the Lord showed me something new about the dream, and they told me that I was accepting the work of the Holy Spirit.
One time, I was praying to God because my brother was persecuting me. I was afraid. At the same time, I was sure that I would never give up my faith in Christ. As I was at church listening to songs of praise, Jesus erased my fears. As I closed my eyes, I saw Him approach me. He held my hand and helped me rise up. He placed a crown on my head, but I couldn’t see His face because it shined brightly. My clothes were so white, and I saw that my husband had a crown too and also wore white. Joy filled my heart. I knelt down at His feet, but He asked me to rise up.
This year, both my husband and I got baptized. Ever since coming to the faith in April 2019, my husband and I have come to love and understand one another better. I used to hold grudges towards others. Today, I have forgiven my brother who is still opposing me. If the Father so freely forgave us, who am I not to forgive others? God used me to share His love with others. I am praying that, by next year, my parents and parents-in-law would have come to know Christ.
I am currently part of Resurrection Church Beirut and attend their Kurdish Church. I used to serve kids, then I began to lead two home groups, and currently, I am leading six home groups. I decided to study theology at ABTS so I could better share God’s word with my people. Studying theology has improved my ministry to children and home groups. It improved my understanding of Scripture and helped me serve more effectively.
Here you can read more stories from our students.
I would like to invite you to pray with us for peace in the region. Pray for healthy relationships between Muslims and Christians. Pray for the Word of God to be understood and accepted by others. May his LIGHT shine in our hearts and minds and guide our path as we follow him.
The theme of this year at our church is At His Feet. Our goal is to encourage the whole church family to spend more time in prayer and listening to God’s voice through his word. Emad with various church leaders have been involved in training A total of 189 lifegroup leaders as well as tribe pastors serving in various campuses were trained in three main areas: Christian Doctrine, Hermeneutics, and Old Testament, and how these topics related to life and ministry. Please continue praying for these pastors and leaders as they serve in a very difficult times, with very limited resources.
We really appreciate your continuous prayers and support for us as a family and for our ministry.
Emad, Almess, Timothy & Nathaniel