ADVENTIST ministers and teachers in the Middle East enjoyed a special emphasis this summer on the study of evangelistic procedures and the Bible in the light of archeology. The experience was one that will long be remembered and appreciated.
The emphasis began when Andrew C. Fearing, associate secretary of the Ministerial Association, arrived in Beirut to give a series of Bible lectures, June 11-25, in the Beirut Evangelistic Center. Not only were the lectures well received by the public, but Elder Fearing held a daily institute for the thirty-five workers in the area.
After giving the commencement address at Middle East College on June 25, Elder Fearing went to Heliopolis, Egypt, U.A.R., where he conducted a series of evangelistic meetings in the Adventist church, June 26 to July 9, and held a daily institute for the Adventist workers in the Cairo area. He then returned to Beirut where forty-three ministers, Bible instructors, and teachers had gathered from the four corners of the Middle East to study in the Andrews University Extension School held at Middle East College, July 9 to August 20, 1961.
The school was planned to be under the directorship of Dr. Charles E. Weniger, vice-president of Andrews University School of Graduate Studies, but owing to illness, Dr. Weniger had to return without delay to the United States, and Elder Fearing was appointed director in his place.
Dr. Weniger had planned to teach the course Speech for Religious Workers. This was now an impossibility. Elder Fearing was asked to teach a course in speech for one semester hour of credit, and G. Arthur Keough, who was to teach Archeology and the Bible for two semester hours of credit, was asked to increase the content of his course to include one more hour of credit. Thus the students were to continue to have a full load of study, but it was recognized that the absence of Dr. Weniger was an irreparable loss.
Those who have been to Middle East College know the beautiful location it enjoys among the pines of Lebanon overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. All classroom, library, and chapel facilities were placed at the disposal of the Extension School, thanks to the generosity of the college president, E. L. Gammon. Mary Had-dad acted as registrar, and classes began according to plan.
Those who are unacquainted with the Middle East may think that gathering a number of students from different countries is merely a matter of visas and transportation. The fact is that the arrival of a number of the students at the school was little short of a miracle. There was not one student who did not feel that his presence was the result of a divine providence working on his behalf, and everyone worked as hard as possible to gain the maximum amount of good from the school. There was an excellent spirit among the students and faculty.
In addition to the regular classes there were special guest lecturers. Dr. Bernard Brandstater, head of the Department of Anesthesiology at the American University of Beirut, spoke of the contribution the minister or religious worker can make to the healing processes of patients in a hospital. Ibrahim Swaidan, a former teacher of Arabic at Middle East College, and one who has mastered his mother tongue, emphasized the importance of language to a worker for God who must communicate vital truths in as effective a manner as possible. His speech in Arabic found a responsive chord in every Arab heart.
Special emphasis was placed on the goal of representative printing in all our literature when R. E. Anderson, manager of Middle East Press, addressed the students. Two other emphases of importance to workers in the Middle East were made when Dr. Harry Dorman, secretary of the Near East Christian Council, spoke of work for and among Moslems, and Fuad Accad, secretary of the Bible Society in Beirut, spoke of the translation of the Bible into the languages used in the Middle East.
Once a week there was a chapel period when spiritual emphases were made. Among those who spoke were R. A. Wilcox, president of the Middle East Division; R. H. Hart-well, secretary of the division; and Wayne E. Olson, division ministerial association secretary. The last chapel period was a committal service in which every one of the students committed himself or herself to the finishing of the work of God in the Middle East.
The time that brings most spiritual help to student and faculty alike is the hour of prayer. Twice a week the prayer bands met to present their petitions to the Lord. There were always reasons for gratitude, requests for help and healing. Earnest petitions ascended to the throne of grace in Arabic, Armenian, English, German, and Parsee! It is good that the Lord understands all languages.
On Saturday nights there were appropriate activities. The illustrated lecture on Washington, D.C., presented by Mrs. Fearing, was most interesting. The beautiful pictures had been brought to the school by Dr. Weniger. One evening Elder Fearing showed pictures of mission advance in New Guinea. There were evenings of games and an evening of literary and musical talent when Dr. Owen, who is on her way to Walla Walla College, charmed everyone with her skill as a pianist.
There were weekend services with two messages each Sabbath morning, one in English and the other in Arabic. There was the field trip to the Dog River, Byblos, and the National Museum. Some of the experiences may never be recorded, but they form the basis of a determination to do better, under God, in the future. Students and teachers carry home pleasant memories that will often cheer them and lighten their heavy load day by day.
After six weeks came the graduation exercises. Kenneth Oster made a call to consecration on the Friday evening to which Anees Haddad, one of the students, responded on behalf of everyone present. On Sabbath morning Elder Wilcox preached the baccalaureate sermon. On Sunday a guest speaker, a prominent businessman in Beirut and leader in the Middle East, Emile Bustany, gave the graduation address. Elder Fearing presented the certificates, prepared by Andrews University, to the students who had worked hard and had successfully completed their courses. May the Lord abundantly bless all that has been done in His name this summer to inspire the ministers and teachers in the Middle East, through evangelistic endeavor and the Extension School, to attempt great things for God and to finish the work in this challenging field.