By Julia Wallace, DMAH Development Officer
Lively conversations filled the room as people eagerly awaited the keynote speaker.
On October 9, pastors, theologians, and lay Christians from across the MENA region gathered in Amman, Jordan to hear Dr. Imad Shehadeh, President and Founder of Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary (JETS), discuss his seven new theological books. Praised for being biblically faithful and intellectually stimulating, these new resources were applauded for bringing fresh theological perspectives from the voice of an esteemed Arab Christian.
Beyond celebrating the prolific achievement of Dr. Shehadeh, this book launching also highlighted an exciting new initiative by Dar Manhal al Hayat, in collaboration with a network of around 20 seminaries across the region, to publish needed theological resources in the Arabic language.
“It’s important to enrich the Arabic library,” shared Sawsan Tannoury, Director of Publishing at Dar Manhal al Hayat. “Over the past few years, theological seminaries have been saying ‘we need resources’ in Egypt, in Lebanon, in Iraq, in Jordan as well, so at Dar Manhal we are building partnerships with all these seminaries, and together coming up with a list of titles they need.”
The ultimate goal of this initiative—which involves the participation of seminaries across the region, including JETS and the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary—is to publish 36 theological textbooks over the next 10 years. These selected books have been identified as needed resources by academics and church leaders across the region. In addition to translating seminal existing resources, DMAH has designated half of these book slots for locally written works by Arab authors, such as those by Dr. Shehadeh.
“It’s very important, too, to encourage the local scholars. And that’s what we have done in Amman. We encouraged a local author, a very talented person, that has experience digging deep in the Bible and really producing valuable resources on issues that people are really asking about,” shared Tannoury.
Local writers are essential communicators of the Gospel because they wrestle with the same questions as the people in their churches and communities, which may be very different questions discussed in Western resources. For example, Dr. Shehadeh’s two volume series God With Us and Without Us deals directly with questions about the unity of the Trinity, which is a central topic of discussion and debate in non-Christian contexts.
Not only does working with local authors bring theological insights to issues specific to the MENA region, but this strategy also promotes the ongoing faith and intellectual development of local Arab theologians and Christians. These leaders can then contribute thoughtfully to discussions on faith and practice in their own communities while sparking new ideas for Christian thinkers across the world.
Dar Manhal’s goal is that these locally written texts, cultivated within the Middle Eastern context and written in the Arabic language, will equip the Church to bear faithful witness to Christ by investing in leadership development throughout the region.
Pray with us that God would use this new initiative to equip His people in the Arab World, so that they might be bringers of hope throughout the MENA region and world.