Leadership training continues despite violence in Iraq

By April 14, 2004

Iraq (MNN) — You’ve heard the stories – American, Russian, and Chinese contractors kidnapped in Iraq, armed gunmen running through city streets, fighters from outside Iraq carrying out terrorist attacks. All of these events are hampering evangelism and discipleship.

However, CB International is committed to it. They’re doing this from outside Iraq and throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. CBI’s President Hanz Finzel says, “Our emphasis has really been on theological education. So, we’ve had a number of our CBI missionaries working in various seminaries in the countries in the Middle East that allow such a thing.” He adds, “We’ve just been trying to equip the evangelical church in the Middle East in theological education.”

But, the challenge is getting good solid theological education to new believers in places like Iraq. Finzel says Eastern Europe faced a similar situation after the fall of communism. “The good news is that the church is now free to meet openly in Iraq and the number one need is leadership training,” Finzel says, “Because they’ve had such a vacuum. No schools, no training has been allowed. So they’re telling us, ‘we need leadership training.'”

But, that effort has been limited. Finzel says, “The security concerns make it very dangerous to ramp up a huge thing. I predict next year, 2005 as things settle down Lord willing hopefully we will begin to help them actually build their own Bible colleges and seminaries.”

Many who have visited the Middle East and Central Asia say there is an incredible hunger and thirst to know more about Jesus. Finzel says, “Many people are disillusioned with the alternative religions. They’re saying, ‘who is this Jesus Christ and what do these Christians have to offer?’ When we go in there with humanitarian efforts, I think that’s just a fantastic foundation to the Gospel.”

Funding is needed to build theological training schools, scholarships for students, and compassion ministries.

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