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Conference Educates Christians About Islam, Middle East

The purpose of the Institute of Middle East Studies’ (IMES) Middle East Consultation (MEC) is 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.

The MEC is held yearly, every third week of June, at Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) in Beirut, bringing together Christian workers from all over the world who are interested in learning more about Islam and the Middle East.

“One of our goals has been to lead the church in the MENA [Middle East North Africa] region in reflecting on its ministry role in its particular geopolitical context in light of its history and the history of Western missions to the region,” according to Martin Accad, ABTS chief academic officer and IMES director.

“We also wanted to become a helpful resource for our partners worldwide, who are called to be involved in the mission of God in the MENA region,” Accad said. “The annual MEC has served this dual purpose for the past 15 years. In the aftermaths of Sept. 11, 2001, we believe that the annual MEC has played a crucial role in helping a segment of the church worldwide to make better sense of Islam, Middle East issues, West-East and Christian-Muslim relations.

“It has also likely played a significant role in preparing the church in Lebanon to respond more appropriately to the unexpected turbulent events that brought Muslims far closer to Christians, such as the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war that caused the displacement of 1 million Shiite Muslims from South Lebanon to Beirut, and the Syrian war that led to the influx of nearly 2 million Syrian Muslim refugees to Lebanon since 2012,” Accad said. “Without IMES and its annual MEC, evangelical churches in Lebanon might have been less prepared to respond appropriately in the aftermaths of these events.”

This year’s event is titled “Middle East Consultation 2019 – Thinking Biblically about Muslims, Muhamad and the Quran: Practical Implications for the Church Today.” MEC 2019 will be held June 17-21 at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut.

Through the course of MEC 2019, participants will collectively work toward discerning a practically grounded yet biblically faithful understanding of Muslims, Muhammad and the Quran, which constructively informs the church in its practice of ministry.

Participants at MEC 2019 come from across the region and the world, providing the unique opportunity for a global reflection on what we consider the single most important issue for the church today.

Our joint exploration will make use of the following:

  • Exciting case studies exploring the everyday challenges of ministry in the region
  • Recent developments in historical-critical scholarship with respect to Islamic origins, the life of Muhammad and the Quran
  • Biblical teaching related to the topics of revelation, prophethood and salvation
  • Practical applications for discipleship in the MENA context and beyond

MEC 2019 features high-quality presentations by reflective practitioners, respected scholars of Islam and mission thinkers. A flier about the consultation is available here.

In addition, MEC 2019 features personal testimonies, interfaith and ecumenical forums, practical workshops and intimate roundtable conversations allowing ample opportunities for participants to engage in robust discussion and contextual reflection.

It will be a place to grow in one’s own discipleship journey as well as in one’s skills of making disciples in any context, including your own.

Editor’s note: Presentations from the 2017 Consultation, which focused on the theme, “The Church in Disorienting Times: Leading Prophetically Through Adversity,” have been published in a book, which is available for purchase, either as a paperback or e-book.

ABTS Staff

Founded in 1960 in the hills overlooking Beirut, the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) equips servant-leaders for the ministry challenges arising in the Middle East and North Africa – be it theology, apologetics, communication, pastoral care, ethics, society or culture.