Martin Accad, director of the Institute of Middle East Studies (IMES) at Arab Baptist Theological Seminary near Beirut, Lebanon, talks about IMES’ most recent consultation, or conference, in a new Skype interview with EthicsDaily.com.
The Middle East Consultation, a week-long event hosted yearly by IMES and ABTS, aims to “equip participants to respond in prophetic and Christ-like ways to the many challenges facing Christians and Muslims in and beyond the Middle East,” according to its website.
This year’s consultation, which ended Friday, marked the 11th such event. This year’s theme: “Discipleship Today: Following Jesus in the Middle East and North Africa.”
“There is more fruitfulness in ministry over the past three decades than there has been over centuries,” Accad says. “It’s pretty obvious that God is doing something new.”
He goes on to say: “It’s not because our techniques have become better. It’s not because we’ve become smarter. I think God is truly at work. He is redeeming this region.”
The consultation exists “primarily to hear the experience and testimony of people on the ground,” says Accad – not necessarily to discuss methodologies or controversial issues.
This year’s consultation marks the largest yet; organizers had to limit attendees to 200 because of logistics.
Accad put participants into several categories: new Christians from non-Christian backgrounds, those who have been Christians for a decade or more, and “global consultants” invited to the consultation to help all participants put their experiences in larger theological frameworks.
Accad emphasizes that everyone at the consultation actively participates, with a format designed to enhance participation, whether through roundtable discussion or testimonies captured and shared using an interview format.
“The sort of stories we’ve been hearing is—it’s actually fascinating but many people we’re talking to came to faith through a vision, or through a dream,” Accad says. “So the dream theme keeps recurring all the time. It’s unsolicited. It’s just things that we didn’t expect. But that’s the whole point. We want to match common themes.”
Accad also mentions weaknesses that the consultation is revealing—like regional churches that need to be better equipped for discipling people from non-Christian backgrounds.
He also touches on what the Syrian crisis—and its generation of refugees—means for churches in the region as they seek to minister to those displaced.
EthicsDaily.com interviews Accad on a regular basis for his perspective on religion in the Middle East region.
EthicsDaily.com also regularly carries columns by Accad.
Watch the interview with Accad at vimeo.com/ethicsdaily/skype-martinaccad3
Learn more about IMES at abtslebanon.org/imes
Watch other EthicsDaily.com Skype interviews at vimeo.com/ethicsdaily