Middle East

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Middle Eastern Bible institute: emphasis on doctrine and discipleship

Editor’s note. In a mid-sized town in a mid-sized Middle Eastern nation, a Bible Institute operated by Entrust is quietly and unobtrusively equipping men and women with seminary-level Bible courses and practical ministry training. The students are refugees, immigrants or residents of a nearby nation where Christianity is growing in numbers but without sound doctrine.


A local church, an extension of the Bible Institute, serves that same refugee population and provides a place for students to use their spiritual gifts and apply new ministry skills. Graduates of the Bible Institute fan out across this mid-sized nation to serve Christ. Others take their training to the nations of the world as they are re-settled as refugees. Still others go home to strengthen local churches underground.


Two of the students share their stories.


Shahram

Before I met the people at the church associated with the Bible Institute, I thought I knew a lot about the Bible. But after I began to worship with this local church, I started to understand that I had been taught many wrong doctrines, such as the prosperity gospel. After some time of participating in the church, I applied to study at the Bible Institute.


Shortly after graduating from the institute’s 1-year program, I moved with my family to a different city. In my new city, I saw several ministries and churches that were teaching the same false doctrines I had formerly believed. I was shocked to see how many of them were seeking money and not sharing the gospel with people. Nevertheless, I decided to work with a few of them because I wanted to serve my people.


Later, I contacted the Bible Institute to ask them to help me with a church plant and even, perhaps, to start a new Bible Institute training center in my city. It took almost three years, but now I am happy to say that my dreams and prayers have come to fruition, with both a new church and a new training center where I live. I am so happy to work for the Bible Institute. I run errands for the school and communicate with the student body about upcoming courses and assignments.


My wife and I recently launched a new gathering. I am thankful to God for allowing me to play a part in introducing hundreds of people to the love of Christ. Of the diverse experiences I’ve had with various organizations, I am certain that no other ministry does the same quality of in-person training. No other groups are serving my people with this heavy emphasis on sound doctrine and discipleship.


Previous teachings that I’d received only gave me condemnation. I’d been told that if you are not healthy and wealthy you are living in sin. In its place I have understood the concept of grace and gained an understanding of redemptive history in which God is the hero of the story, not me.


Sulmaz

I was always very interested in theology and understanding the word of God. I told my husband that I wanted to understand the word of God myself. I was tired of being lectured at all the time. Other Christians treated me like I didn’t know anything because I was a lay person. They said I didn’t have enough of the Holy Spirit to receive a direct message or revelation from God apart from the scriptures.


Over time, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to understand the Bible better. I realized that I should rely on the scriptures in order to be discerning about others’ teaching and so-called prophecy or revelation.


I attended a couple of theological training schools, but unfortunately none of them began with the Bible. Rather, they used other people’s books and articles. I told my husband that I felt this was not the right way of studying the Bible; we weren’t learning straight from the word of God.


I came to know of the Bible Institute through my sister, who told me they are different in their approach. I was very reluctant at first, but I finally said this will be my last try. I applied to the school, but I could not leave my job to be a full-time student, so I told my husband to apply, as his job was more flexible and I could learn from him.


However, God provided through a miracle by giving me a scholarship! It was unbelievable. After my first course, which was about the purpose of the Christian life and about the healthy church, I was shocked at how much I did not know. Now I am asking the Lord to help me finish my 2-year training even though I know that will only be the beginning. Teachers come to the Bible Institute and teach a book of the Bible or a theme from the Bible and I am getting a lot of my questions answered.


Finally, the Lord is answering my prayers.