Evangelical Theological Seminary - January 2015 Update
New Year greetings from all of us at ETSC. Following the January 1-10 Coptic Christmas holiday break, the January term began on January 12th.
Good news arrived on January 5th at ETSC in the form of a note from Marilyn Borst, Associate Director for Partnership Development at The Outreach Foundation. “I am delighted to report that through the efforts of Rob Weingartner, we have secured $10,000 to assist Saleem Ferah in his studies there.”
Saleem is a first year student from Bloudan, Syria. At the age of 41 he decided to answer God’s call and give up his successful career as a judge and a lawyer in order to enroll full-time at ETSC. He had previously served his local church by leading high school and college youth meetings, singing in the church choir and serving as an elder for the past eight years. When the pastor of the church left, he became their lay pastor.
Saleem wrote, “On many occasions, I was invited by pastor friends and church leaders to start my theological studies in the ordination track program. I wasn’t so sure of my call then. I thought I didn’t have to quit my successful career as a judge and a lawyer, and that I could fulfill my vision through part-time ministry. As I watched the decline of the Syrian church and how it lost its identity and how the lives of people of the church are being challenged every day I found myself concerned in a direct way to have full-time ministry as a pastor.”
Seminary officials overcame many obstacles seeking the visa and air transport for Saleem. In spite of their efforts, he began his classes three weeks late and worked very hard to catch up. Finally all seemed to be going well until Saleem received a phone call that his father had died suddenly of a heart attack. Saleem’s mournful wails echoed through the dormitory hallway as he grieved his loss. There was no possible way to return to Syria to console his mother.
The students and faculty rallied around Saleem and held a service for his father that evening. The ETSC community filled the chapel as they came together to comfort him in his loss with their prayers, hymns, preaching and presence. Non-Egyptian student’s expenses are almost double that of resident Egyptian students because their needs include plane tickets, food and accommodations during the summer months and personal expenses such as stipends, clothing, transportation and international visas. Offering scholarship funds for a non-Egyptian student from regular funds means that we will deprive two Egyptian students seeking ordination of their chance to pursue theological education for four years. This is not an option as the Synod of the Nile already has a shortage in the number of ordained pastors in Egypt.
The $10,000 gift is a blessing to the seminary and the future of the Synod of Syria and Lebanon. We are grateful to a Presbyterian couple in the U.S. who entrusted a generous undesignated gift to The Outreach Foundation allowing Outreach to focus their resources on critical mission needs and opportunities. Rob Weingartner, Executive Director, decided to focus the donors’ most recent gift on scholarships in the Middle East, including support for Saleem. All of this is in keeping with Outreach’s priority of building the capacity of our Presbyterian global partners for their ministry and mission.
Many of our partners have visited us on trips organized by The Outreach Foundation. Outreach’s Marilyn Borst will host a trip to Egypt in early November that will include ministries and sites in Luxor as well as Cairo. More information on this trip is included below.
We offer our heartfelt gratitude to partners who gave year-end gifts to ETSC in 2014.
Grace and peace,
Travel with The Outreach Foundation to Egypt
November 4 – 14, 2015
Egypt is a land with a long, grand and diverse history; this history includes the amazing stories of God’s church. We will visit new church developments in and around Cairo and Luxor, meet current and future church leaders, and be inspired by the church’s bold and progressive mission vision even as our presence there will encourage local Christians. Marilyn Borst will lead this trip. Interested? Contact Lisa Dill at 615-778-8881 or email@example.com
Amount needed in 2015
The Outreach Foundation seeks to raise at least $6,000 per student scholarship and $5,000 per month for the program of the Center for Middle East Christianity. 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.