Sudan (MNN) — Arab Baptist Theological Seminary began educating students in 1960. A few years later, though, the school found itself equipping parts of the Sudanese Church for leadership.
“Last year, we had almost 50 percent of our residential students coming from Sudan. We are expecting to have 19 students from Sudan next year, maybe three of them would be from the South and the remaining 16 are going to be from North Sudan,” ABTS’ Loulwa El Maalouf says.
“It’s exciting to know that we are part of God’s plan to prepare church leaders for the Sudanese Church.”
El Maalouf says Sudanese students are very sweet and tend to enjoy their new community at ABTS. The affection goes both ways. El Maalouf also says ABTS learns a lot from its Sudanese students.
Sudanese Students Continue Ministry
Since many ABTS students return home during summer break, they can use what they have learned to impact their churches.
“A condition for [students] to be enrolled at ABTS is that they have ministry experience, they are endorsed by their local church, and they demonstrate a clear calling to serve God in their communities,” El Maalouf explains.
ABTS encourages all its students to use their summer breaks as an opportunity to serve back home. Still, this is not the only thing which sets ABTS apart from other seminaries. ABTS, unlike the traditional teaching method in Arab communities, trains its students to be critical thinkers.
When students ask questions, they are often answered with more questions and a nudge to head to the library. It is there, buried in books, where students learn to use their resources, conduct research, and think critically.
Students also study courses by looking at four distinct areas of a topic. These include biblical, historical, sociological, and personal backgrounds. Additionally, ABTS strives to focus on building the affective, behavioral, and cognitive aspects of leaders.
“Leadership formation is very crucial for the Church…and our curriculum is helping to prepare more leaders for the Church in Sudan,” El Maalouf says.
Welcome to ABTS
Some challenges the Sudanese students face include immersing themselves in a foreign culture. However, these challenges are not stopping Sudanese students from coming to ABTS. Many Sudanese students are recommended by alumni to attend the seminary.
ABTS tries to alleviate these challenges by acting more like a family. Students from cultures outside of Lebanon live in a building together. There, they learn about each other, the other cultures, and find they are not alone in a foreign land.
Another way ABTS tries to welcome international students is through food. Students have a stipend to buy and cook their own food, meaning they can enjoy a taste of home.
“Many key church leaders in Sudan are ABTS graduates. In fact, one of our graduates from Sudan had said that the ministry in Sudan would have been very much different if it was not for ABTS,” El Maalouf shares.
“We had the privilege of being a part and training the leaders who are actually serving in many different churches around Sudan.”
God is equipping the Sudanese Church for His work. Pray it would continue to persevere in faith and ministry. Ask God to help the Sudanese Church as it makes relationships with the communities around it. Finally, pray for ABTS graduates to be the salt and light in their communities, regardless of their circumstances.
(Header photo courtesy of ABTS)