What a great day to start our time in Beirut. Jet lag was a defeated enemy for us both! We shared our first meal with Paul Sanders. Heâ€™s a long time friend and the fellow who introduced me to Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (here) back in 2002. He was provost then and working to promote theological education through out the Arabic and French speaking world. Now heâ€™s turned the ABTS reins over to Elie Haddad who is taking it to an even higher level. They are both working with the Teach/Learn project which will deliver state of the art theological/pastoral training to seminaries and churches throughout the Arabic speaking world using satellite technology. Itâ€™s ironic that the very best in web based learning may be in Arabic!
Speaking of internet, getting on here is a bit of an adventure. Iâ€™m very used to unlimited time but here it is sold by the hour. So Iâ€™m careful to log on/log off (does that sound like Mr. Miyagi?). Even more challenging is that they know where I am! Yahoo has been my home page for a long time. I thought it knew me. But alas, try as I might, it always went to this screen. I asked several people for help and Elie found the button that switches the display to English. But thereâ€™s no connecting with my Portland page from Beirut.
After chapel (with simultaneous translation headsets) and a tour of the ABTS facilities, we had lunch with Alexy Abou Rjeilly, one of my long time friends, to catch up on her life. We have talked about many things over the years including doing some counseling with her and her former fiancÃ©. I am very glad that she is now happily engaged to Joe. They will be married in September. Both are involved in the church I will preach in on Sunday.
Rola Salloum is the most delightful librarian you would ever want to meet and also a part of Strongholds, an outstanding Christian band (here). I was disappointed to find out that they are giving a concert shortly after we leave. But Rola invited us to their evening rehearsal in the wonderful new ABTS auditorium, so Sherry and I went down to join the fun. Though it was definitely a rehearsal the atmosphere of praise in their music was deeply moving. I was sad when we had to head up to bed.
Lunch was with Scot Keranen, a former student who is working with Heart for Lebanon, an agency started after the 2006 Lebanon-Israel war to bring aid to some very tragic situations. Now they are also ministering to refugees from the civil war in Syria. We went up the hill to a place where he said you can get American coffee. It wasnâ€™t true! But we had a good time reviewing ministry, politics, and the state of the Evangelical church and next generation Christians. Sherry was impressed with the price of pizza.
Finally, can you identify Sherryâ€™s mystery item?