On Friday, February 26, Christar U.S. hosted a banquet to celebrate our partnership with Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary and their collaboration with Dallas Theological Seminary that enables Arabic-speaking believers to be trained for ministry! This banquet was a time to praise God for weaving together three organizations and countless individuals to bring about Christ-honoring transformation in the Arab world. It was also a call to work together to continue fulfilling this vision.
Chaos continues to spread through the Middle East, ravaging its lands and peoples with pain and brokenness. There is no doubt that this region is in need of transformation. Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary (JETS) was founded with a vision to meet that challenge!
Transformation Through Education
Christar U.S. was honored to host Dr. Imad Shehadeh, the founder and president of JETS, and Dr. Mark Bailey, the president of Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), as representatives of our three organizations’ common vision. Together, we want to see Christ-honoring transformation among the least-reached peoples of the Middle East through the catalyst of theological education. Throughout the evening, we heard how the training Arabic-speaking believers receive at JETS equips them to serve people who’ve never heard the gospel.
As Dr. Imad shared, the opportunity and need for theological training in the Middle East is greater now than it has been in any time since the fourth century! He told of the transforming nature of biblical training:
“We watch [JETS students] love the scriptures, grow, develop conviction and vision for their countries. Many of them are in the Middle East wanting to immigrate to the West. When they are trained, suddenly they realize they’ve got something. They can now make a difference! It’s much more valuable than going to the West. And they decide to stay.”
A Vision and a Legacy
While he pursued his doctorate at DTS, Dr. Imad was burdened by the need for solid theological training in the Middle East. After graduating, he returned to his home country of Jordan with a vision to see Arabic-speaking believers trained and equipped to stay and serve in the Arab world. Since its establishment 25 years ago, JETS has been growing to fulfill this vision.
Guests at the banquet represented many threads in the tapestry of transformation that God is weaving together through Christar, DTS and JETS. As these guests mingled around a spread of Middle Eastern appetizers, the anecdotes shared captured many facets of God’s hand in establishing JETS and using its graduates to touch and transform lives in 22 Arabic-speaking countries. What began as Dr. Imad’s dream in 1991 is now a school with a 25-year legacy of God’s faithfulness!
Committed to Stay
As the evening unfolded, we heard the story of a JETS student who now pastors a church in a Jordanian village and has opened a school for local children. We heard of another student who desires to return to his native country, Sudan, a predominately Muslim nation, to provide theological education and strengthen the Church. We also heard of JETS graduate Adam * and his vision for his church that has grown from a few refugee children to a fellowship that meets in a building constructed in his garden.
But it was Adam’s wife, Leila’s story that opened our eyes to the passion and commitment that fills these ministries. We learned of her husband’s ongoing battle with cancer while he was studying at JETS. Though weakened from ongoing chemotherapy, he continued with his studies and completed his assigned work. Like all JETS students who receive scholarships, Adam had a job on campus, and he insisted on doing his share.
As the end of the semester approached, Adam was told he had just a month to live. Undaunted, he took his final exams from his hospital bed.
Now, years later, God has brought healing to Adam’s body, and the church building in his garden is full. Leila has overwhelming opportunities to serve and encourage the refugees flooding into Jordan from her homeland of Syria. To Leila and Adam, the millions of people fleeing from the spreading chaos in the Middle East have faces and names. Through this couple, those who left everything behind are being introduced to the One who is the true treasure!
These three examples of men and women who have committed to stay and serve in the Arab world illustrate the ripple effect that Dr. Imad spoke of: Theological education creates messengers of transformation.
Investing in Believers Committed to Stay
JETS students commit their lives to service in some of the most difficult places. But their commitment isn’t enough. They need your help!
Jordanian laws don’t allow JETS students from other Middle Eastern or African countries to work off campus. Consequently, students at the seminary are dependent on scholarships provided through the Church abroad to cover their tuition and living expenses. They are willing to invest their lives. Will you invest in them?
Dr. Mark Bailey of DTS reminded us that “transformed people make transformed churches that desire to see their world transformed.” In the Middle East, that transformation is taking place through JETS students. Will you partner with them so they can complete seminary training and effectively minister to the least-reached in the Arab world?
How Can I Get Involved?
- Ask God to provide scholarships for JETS students through the generosity of His people.
- Pray that Christ-honoring transformation will spread throughout the Middle East as it did 2,000 years ago!
- Pray for the JETS graduates who have committed to stay and serve in difficult areas. Ask God to protect them and accomplish His glorious purposes through them.
*Names have been changed and images may be representative.