Another well-loved student who walked across the graduation stage last week, Namir*, is recently engaged to another ABTS graduate and eager to return to his home country and apply the equipping that he received during his seminary journey. Having spent three years in Lebanon accomplishing the Bachelor of Theology degree, Botros dreams of being instrumental in establishing a fruitful home group ministry and engaging in church planting.
Although home groups for the purpose of discipleship are uncommon in his home country, he had the opportunity to lead in this ministry in the local Beirut church where he served during his seminary journey. Having come to ABTS because of his experience in and passion for leading worship, he didn’t expect to find God broadening his calling to include this type of ministry.
An especially formative class that prepared him for future ministry was one on theology taught by Dr.Hikmat Kashouh, who graduated from ABTS in 2001. This course taught him to respect God’s Word, he said, and to value the importance of the “history and cultural background” of the biblical authors. He learned the importance of studying Scripture with an emphasis on context, and that “you can’t interpret a verse without studying the background.” This is different from the way he had handled Scripture before studying at ABTS. Dr. Perry Shaw, Botros shared, also “disciplined” him and the other students throughout their time of study. The students, having completed their education, now appreciate the method that so challenged them in the process because it has “made them who they are.”
“We’re not only receiving a theological education,” he explained. Echoing the perspective expressed by Magi and Benyamin, he said, “we were given goggles through which to see the world.” As a new graduate, Botros wants to encourage other students to intentionally cultivate their private time with God in the midst of the pressures of academic life. “Theology might give you new horizons of thinking,” he exhorted, “but only your personal relationship with God will allow you to intimately understand His Word.”
As he returns to his home country, Botros will face challenges because of increasing government restrictions that limit pastors and ministry leaders in significant ways.
He asks for prayer for wisdom from God, because he desires to respect the governing authorities and also to fulfill the ministry vision that God has given him. He plans to serve under the radar, not because he fears persecution, but because the church in his home country has recently lost so many leaders.
*The name of this student has been changed
About Emad & Almess Botros
Emad and Almess were appointed by CBM in January 2015 to serve at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) in Lebanon, where they first met and studied. Emad serves as a lecturer in the areas of Old Testament and Islamic studies at ABTS and developing resources and models for ministry. While both Emad and Almess are involved in mentoring students in ministry and leadership skills, Almess also explores opportunities to work with Iraqi and Syrian refugees.