Jordan/Arab Diaspora (MNN) – The Program for Theological Education by Extension is known for training believers in leadership who live in the Arab world. However, the ministry is training believers in the Arab diaspora, too.
Learning in the Arab Diaspora
The PTEE classes take place across the globe in countries like Sweden, Australia, Canada and even the United States. The PTEE former Executive Director of 28 years, Dr. Dick Hart, says classes in the diaspora are not very different from those within the Arab world.
“You study your work at home, and then you meet for a weekly session face to face, and then after that, you take a quiz and carry on an hour and a half or so of discussion. At the end of the 10-week course, there is a project or a final exam or both. [For example] now, that will happen in Michigan, and that will also happen in Jordan,” Hart says.
Since the PTEE provides education by extension, individuals who emigrate from the Arab world can take their coursework with them and plug into a different seminar group in their new location. The class delivery model does not change because someone emigrated.
But, why not study at a local seminary in their new culture? Well, the Arabic language is the heart language of the Arab world and the Arab diaspora. The PTEE’s course materials are in Arabic. Students understand coursework in their native language better than coursework in a language they are unfamiliar with or have known for less than a decade.
Studying through the PTEE also gives Arabs living in the diaspora a connection to home. More likely than not, the other PTEE students in the diaspora have also emigrated. Their classmates speak Arabic and share similar experiences. Since students are taught through a discussion approach, relating to and understanding each other through language and presuppositions helps students interact with each other and the PTEE content.
“I think that’s another thing: they have a good time in their discussions in Jordan, and they have a good time in their discussions in Sweden because they’re discussing in Arabic,” Hart shares.
The PTEE’s Impact Abroad
Hart says all the PTEE classes operated outside of the Arab world take place in local churches. Students tend to be members of the host church, though this is not always the case. The PTEE courses provide a chance for these Arab believers to sharpen their theological knowledge and then use the information to impact their local communities and to serve in their churches.
“We have kind of an interdisciplinary approach that emphasizes being relevant in your local society. So, students (let’s say in Michigan) [are] working with people who are engineers and the engineers have their perspective. They get to know each other professionally. Maybe they get to know each other in terms of their hobbies, but their religion always is there even if it’s unmentioned,” Hart explains.
“The PTEE students are studying…[how] to find places to connect with the Westerners that they’re talking to, that the Westerners may find to be acceptable…so the Arabs are able to make contributions based on Biblical, cultural insights that will benefit the local society.”
Plus, studying through PTEE instead of a local seminary keeps education costs affordable. Typically, the PTEE tries to make tuition rates proportional to the economic situation of the country a student resides. For this reason, the PTEE tuition rate tends to be a case by case situation in the diaspora.
Be Prayerful, Be Active
So please, intercede in prayer for your Arab brothers and sisters living in the Arab diaspora. Pray for God to lead the right people to work with the PTEE as tutors and facilitators. Pray for current and future tutors to budget their time in a way which helps them to lead classes well.
Ask God to continue giving PTEE workers and students an attitude of joy in work and relationships. Pray for students as they immerse themselves in a part-time theological study while balancing everyday life.