Middle East (MNN) — The Program for Theological Education by Extension (PTEE) is providing top-notch seminary courses for Arabic-speakers all around the globe and at nominal prices.
PTEE started in 1981 as a response to the absence of seminaries in many Arab countries. Church pastors and leaders would have to leave their homes for years at a time to receive a theological education.
PTEE wanted to equip members like this with on-location seminary courses so they could share their knowledge with their congregations immediately. Instead of seeking out education, PTEE brought it to them.
In recent years, PTEE has become even more necessary in Arab nations. Qualified pastors and Church heads have left their homes or been forced out due to turmoil, violence, and persecution. This has left their congregations without leaders.
Now, Church members without theological education have been rising up to minister to people in their churches. PTEE is at their side, offering seminary education and ministry training to guide and support them.
Courses are self-study programs and then once a week, students meet and are led by facilitators who’ve also had PTEE training.
High-Quality Courses for Theological Training
Because students haven’t had past theological training, there is room for misinterpretation and therefore, false teaching in the Church. However, PTEE’s Kristyn Kuhlman shares their courses are high-quality to ensure this does not happen.
“Each course on average, it takes about three years to develop a class,” Kuhlman says. “For example, the Art of Preaching, or the Christian Ethics, or Poverty and Community Development. So, the theologians here at the ministry center spend years developing these courses and then those materials are what are sent to the students.”
PTEE programs are accredited by the Asia Theological Association and the Middle East for the Theological Education (MEATE). This means students can earn their Certificate of Theology, Diploma of Theology, or Bachelors of Theology.
PTEE knows all students have a different level of education from each other. Therefore, programs work with their achieved education levels.
For example, for students who have already earned a Bachelor’s degree in another area they “only require 54 credits to earn that second BA.”
Many people in the Middle East, however, have been forced to drop out of school because of violence and dangers in the area or due to expenses. PTEE accommodates this as well.
“We have a Certificate of Ministry, which is a 12-class program,” Kuhlman says. “The classes for that are a little bit different. It was created one for people who maybe have not been able to finish their high school degree.”
Certificate programs are also available for people seeking ministry training, but not a degree. Kuhlman explains this program requires less time and the classes aren’t as intensive, but they are still high-quality.
For such high-quality courses that are developed over years, each class per student costs about $400.
However, many students are living in poverty and cannot afford to pay for seminary courses at this price.
“Over 30 percent of Egyptians are living below the poverty line. Recently, the Dean of a national committee of Egypt in our meeting was saying that most of the students there are trying to get enough money to put food on the table to support their families,” Kuhlman says.
“The typical age, the average for a PTEE student is 37-years-old – men and women who are trying to support families and who need to work. So, they are often bi-vocational ministry leaders. They’re not being paid for their Church leadership or their ministry roles. So, the economic challenges for our students are great. Therefore, PTEE’s commitment is to make this theological education affordable and accessible.”
Through donor support, PTEE is able to offer their courses to students at a low cost and students only pay for course materials and registration fees.
The registration fee is different in each country. It is based on the nation’s gross domestic product per capita. But for each 12-week, three credit course, registration fees are equal to about $10.
“If it cost more than that, most of the students would not be able to have access to this education,” Kuhlman says.
PTEE invites you to pray for students. Pray for their safety as many face dangers simply going to classes. Pray for wisdom and provision of finances and time. Also, pray for the provision of donor support so PTEE can continue equipping believers with high-quality seminary courses at a low cost.