Page 15 - PC_Fall2020
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FALL 2020
 Struggling to Survive in Lebanon
 By International Ministries
Through International Ministries, The Presbyterian Church in Canada sup- ports national church partners and Christian agencies around the world by sending mission staff and provid- ing grants. Gifts from Presbyterians Sharing provide core funding for this work. Mission staff work alongside our partners on short- or long-term assignments. They are currently working in areas of Bible translation, development work, medical care, lay education training, teaching in prison school, fighting racism, welcoming refugees, and so much more. These staff are “living links,” opening win- dows into worlds that are sometimes difficult to imagine.
Financial grants allow our partners to expand and develop programs im- portant to them, including theological education, leadership development, outreach and evangelism. Pasto- ral training is equipping Indigenous women for ministry in Guatemala, while the New Life Psychiatric Reha- bilitation Centre in Nepal welcomes people who are shunned from their communities due to mental illness. We also support theological insti- tutions in Malawi, Ghana, Nigeria, Cuba, Taiwan and Lebanon. In addi- tion to providing excellent Reformed education, we share theological dis- cussions and debates, a sign of real engagement and respect, which is what partnership is about.
The current worldwide pandemic has challenged many of our partners. This is particularly true for the Near East School of Theology (NEST), a small seminary in Beirut, Lebanon. With economies collapsing, record numbers of refugees without safe haven, and violent clashes occurring in many cities, including Lebanon, NEST is struggling to survive.
Dr. George Sabra, President of
Dr. Sabra (centre) with students and faculty of the Near East School of Theology, on a trip to a nature reserve in the Lebanese mountains where a cedar tree was planted on the 150th anniversary of the theological seminary.
 NEST, recently described the precari- ous situation they are experiencing given the collapse of the Lebanese currency and its drastic effect on daily life. Salaries have been reduced to almost nothing. Lebanon imports 80% of its food, paid for in U.S. dol- lars. And the Lebanese government is part of the problem. The situation is unpredictable, and fewer interna- tional students will study at NEST due to border restrictions and fear.
For those who live outside the Middle East, NEST provides the op- portunity to learn and engage with Christians who are a significant minority witnessing to the gospel in their lives. A long-standing par t- ner of The Presbyterian Church in Canada, this small Reformed Theo- logical institution, established in 1932, trains 90% of the Protestant pastors in the Middle East, keeping alive the faith in the region where Je- sus was born and where he taught. Our connection with NEST goes back to 1988, when the Rev. Dr. Ted and Betty Siverns, Canadian Presbyterians, served there during the Lebanese Civil War period.The seminary’s commitment to excel-
Graduates and faculty at the NEST Convocation in 2016.
lence in teaching and scholarship is inspiring. It attracts talented young women and men for leadership in their churches and creates Christian community.
NEST plays a key ecumenical and inter-religious role, including engage- ment between Sunni and Shia clerics for which Dr. Sabra is well known and respected. It is difficult to express in words the compelling energy that is present among the students, profes- sors and lecturers, as well as among the African and European students who study at NEST. Christians are a tiny minority in the region, but their
enthusiasm is rooted in their faith and the NEST community.
Dr. Sabra has expressed hope that “... we can pull through with God’s help and the support of our network of friends. After all, this institution made it through two World Wars and crises in the region, including a 15-year-old war in Lebanon.”
To help support this strategic sem- inary through this particularly chaotic time, International Ministries hopes to raise additional funds, over and above the regular grant of $16,000 provided by gifts to Presbyterians Sharing. Donations, small or large,
are gratefully received and will be matched up to $50,000. These funds will be key to helping NEST teach and encourage students. Let this be an act of our common Christian faith, which began in this region.
Upon learning of this act of soli- darity, Dr. Sabra wrote: “I know that NEST will not fail or cease to exist, if it has friends like the PCC.”
This is a difficult time for NEST, but they have hope for the future. With so much to lament these days, this small seminary is a beacon of hope in a turbulent religious landscape. Donate at
has been overwhelming. I am truly moved by the expressions of sym- pathy, concern and support which my office has received in a shower of e-mails. To know that NEST has so many true friends and support- ers is a great source of comfort and encouragement.”
To help contribute to the rebuild- ing effor ts, please visit presbyterian. ca/nest.
Presbyterian World Service & De- velopment is also working with the international ACT Alliance to bring emergency relief to the people of Beirut. To learn more and to contrib- ute to this appeal, visit WeRespond. ca/pwsd-beirut.
  Praying for Beirut
 In early August, a large fire in the Port of Beirut led to a devastating chemical explosion that resulted in extensive damage over much of the capital, along with widespread death, injury and displacement. The PCC continues to lift up all those af- fected by this tragedy in prayer.
Long-time PCC par tner the Near East School of Theology (NEST) is located in Beirut and is a small Re- formed theological institution that trains the majority of protestant pastors in the Middle East, fostering
faith in same region where Christ was born. The NEST building was badly damaged by the explosion. The glass windows, external doors, panels and even internal wooden doors were completely shattered on all eight floors of their building as well as the basement. While the employees and workers continue to work to clean the debris in the build- ing, the longer term repair work will be financially difficult.
In an update from NEST’s Presi- dent, Dr. George Sabra, he ex-
Destruction at NEST offices following the Beirut explosion in August.
pressed his tremendous gratitude for all of the support NEST has re-
ceived thus far in response to the crisis: “Your response to our crisis

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