Near East School of Theology - July 2014 Update
Note: This update on the ministry of the Near East School of Theology comes in the form of an excerpt from an inspiring reflection written by its President, Dr. George Sabra, who pays tribute to the many N.E.S.T. graduates who continue to serve the Church inside Syria, in both lay and ordained ministry….
“Is the Syrian crisis affecting N.E.S.T?” – A question our international friends and partners often ask us. Located in Lebanon, N.E.S.T. is not directly and physically affected by the violence and destruction taking place in many Syrian cities, towns and villages. We have been able to bring to a close this academic year peacefully and without any interruptions. Life is normal at the Seminary; foreign students from the region and from Europe and Canada have just completed nine months of serious study on our campus in Beirut.
To be sure, N.E.S.T. is affected by the Syrian situation in the same measure as the country of Lebanon is – adverse effects on the political, economic, and social levels. Politically the country is sharply divided between supporters of the Syrian regime and supporters of the Syrian opposition; economically, the loss of tourism due to the Syrian events and the lack of effective governmental rule that drives prices out of control are weighing heavily on people’s ability to cope; socially, the presence of around one and a half million Syrians – around one third of the population of Lebanon – has had adverse effects on the country. All these things are felt by all of us in Lebanon, and N.E.S.T. is no exception. But we are also more closely involved in what is going on in Syria.
Two of our faculty members are Syrian; the largest national group among our students is Syrian; some of our employees are Syrians; many of the residents in the building are Syrian students from our churches who study at neighboring institutions, and last but not least, many of our alumni are serving in Syria, and we are constantly in touch with them. To them N.E.S.T. wishes to pay a warm tribute. Bchara (’88), Houry (’88), Serop (’96), Harout (‘88), Ibrahim (‘97), Yusuf (’74), and Simon (’07) are besieged in Aleppo, and though they have the option to leave, they remain with their congregations: witnessing, consoling, caring and providing material needs. Salam (’01) serves in Latakia and manages relief work; Sevag (’05), displaced from Kessab, refuses to abandon his refugee congregation in Latakia; Peter (‘80) holds fast in Damascus, despite random shelling; Ma‘an (’88) steadfastly remains with his church in Mharrdeh and Hama. Ya’coub (’09) was kidnapped by religious extremists, then released, but he remains faithfully alongside his flock in Syria, and so does Mufid, currently in our STM (Master of Sacred Theology) program. Mufid and Yacoub commute regularly to Beirut, often under danger, to continue their studies on top of everything else they do.
To all those alumni of N.E.S.T. we say: May God bless you and protect you and give you strength to continue serving His Church and all suffering people in war-torn Syria. N.E.S.T. is proud to count you among its alumni!
Travel with The Outreach Foundation to Lebanon and Syria
November 16-25, 2014
The National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, the extension of our Presbyterian family in the region, is based in Beirut which will be our base, as well. For almost three years, the Synod has worked diligently to address the crisis faced by its 20 churches in Syria, whose members in places like Homs and Aleppo have been displaced by the war. This visit of solidarity provides opportunity for congregations and individuals who have supported the Syria Relief Appeal through The Outreach Foundation to experience the situation first-hand, learn of the relief initiatives of the Synod and meet with pastors from Syria. We will visit the churches and ministries of the Synod in Lebanon, and, if the situation permits it, we will visit Syria as well. Trip application deadline is August 30. Interested? Contact Lisa Dill at (615)778-8881 or email@example.com
Amount needed in 2014
The Outreach Foundation seeks to raise at least $8,000 for operations and faculty enrichment at NEST. To make a donation, click the Donate Now link in the sidebar.
The Outreach Foundation now offers the option of receiving missionary/project updates, newsletters, and receipts by e-mail. If you would like to sign up to start receiving these communications electronically, please send your name and e-mail address, along with that request, to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at (615) 778-8881.