Lebanon (MNN) — Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) in Lebanon is celebrating 60 years of providing theological education for church leaders across the MENA region.
And what a chaotic 60th year it has been. Elie Haddad, President of the school, says, “We had the economic meltdown in Lebanon with the hyperinflation, the social and political uprising, the pandemic, and then the big Beirut explosion in August. We’ve been through a series of crises.”
These aren’t the first trying times ABTS has been through, Haddad says. The Lebanese Civil War that raged from 1975 to 1990 also caused havoc for the school. “Towards the end of the Civil War, in the late 80s, the leaders then, the American missionaries, were forced to move the operation to Cyprus for a couple of years. Then it moved back. At that time, there was a transition from missionary ownership to local Lebanese that took ownership.”
Elie first arrived at ABTS in 2005, and by that time the school had been fully revived after the war.
The founding of ABTS
American missionaries first founded the school as an aid to church planting. Haddad says, “They started the school to train the pastors that were assigned to these new church plants. So, they came in, created the need, and met the need. It was an amazing thing for something like that to happen in 1960.”
The seminary originally trained leaders for churches in Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt.
To the future
Looking to the future, Haddad says ABTS needs to be aware of the challenges in the region, such as poverty, unemployment, and the fallout from COVID-19. ABTS always seeks to train church leaders for the real situations they will face.
Haddad says, “It is not logical,” that a small school like ABTS should survive for 60 years. Praise God for His faithfulness, and pray He will continue guiding ABTS into the future.
Curious about how the ABTS curriculum works? On November 12, ABTS faculty members will hold live streams in English to explain how the school prepares the Arab Church for engagement in their context. Join the streams on the ABTS Facebook page.
Header photo courtesy of ABTS on Facebook.