Stock photo by Charles Roffey

Young Syrian Refugee Church Leaders Hungry for Theological Training

By Frank*, Mar 28, 2019

"We already knew what you would say just by watching you." This was the reply to the pastor when he began to answer their question about how elders work together and submit to one another.

A pastor and elder from a partner church in the Middle East were teaching and training a group of 15 Syrian refugee church leaders. The topic was the person and work of Christ and how it makes a difference in ministry. These leaders have only known the Lord for two to three years, but they are leading congregations. You can imagine the questions they have and the multitude of issues that they are hungry to learn about.

Learning by observation
One man, who leads a church of about 90 new believers, was experiencing conflict with another leader in his church. He asked our pastor how to confront other leaders, how to determine what is sin, and what submission to one another looks like, along with many other practical questions. Finally, he asked, “How do you handle conflict?” The group knew how our pastor would answer. They had watched this pastor prefer, love, promote, and encourage the elder who was with him. The elder was younger and in their eyes was lower in position than the pastor. In their culture this means the younger serves the older. The older does most of the speaking and the younger defers to the older one who is in the higher position of pastor.

But this is not how this pastor behaved. The elder, who is also a seminary professor, did more of the teaching. The pastor highlighted the gifts of the elder in front of these leaders. The pastor and elder served and loved and enjoyed each other. This was a picture of the truth that communicated what 10 lectures might have taken to teach.

Five days of questions, with more to come 
After each session the leaders would pepper the pastor and elder with questions on ministry. How do you train elders? What are the qualifications of elders? How do you confront leaders? How do you choose leaders? Along with these came questions of how to conduct a Christian marriage, funeral, and baptism.

The pastor and elder were there for five days and had to break away on the last day so they wouldn't miss their flight!

These Syrian refugee leaders are new to the faith. Yet they find themselves leading congregations with 20, 50, 90 people. They have little or no training or guidance.

Through this critical training, these leaders are being taught Scripture, theology, and how it applies to life and ministry. Because of the relationship that has been built with this pastor, the leaders are now texting the pastor each week with new questions. The local pastor is excited and said this has fired him up and has been one of the greatest blessings in his ministry.

Our pastor shares his knowledge and experience with these young pastors and is richly blessed. This is the kingdom. In giving we receive more.

*Frank serves with MTW’s Muslim ministry in the Middle East.

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Pray for the missionary families who are getting kicked out of sensitive countries because of their Christian faith. 

Pray for a group of Syrian refugees in the Middle East who are fairly new believers, and are leading churches. They are hungry for theological training. 

Give thanks to God for the hundreds of thousands of Iranians who have come to faith over the last two decades. Pray for God to protect believers and draw more to Himself. 

Pray for those in Turkey continuing to rebuild from last year's earthquake, and for continuation of the spiritual growth seen as a result.

Give thanks for all the God is doing in the Muslim World to draw people to Christ. Pray that He would raise up more laborers for this harvest field.

Pray today for the unreached living in Central Asia, as well as for the local believers and missionaries hoping to reach them. Pray for relationships and conversations of faith. 

Pray for the "Timothys" in Muslim-majority West Africa who are growing in their Christian faith and teaching others. 

Pray for a small group Bible study of Genesis in which Muslim men are encountering their need for Christ.

Pray for a small group men's study in the Middle East as men seek to learn truth Scripture while wrestling with the realities of what ISIS has taken from them.

Pray for South Asian communities in New York City who have been hard hit by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, and for God to use missionaries serving among them. 


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