Hurting Ministry Work in the Middle East

August 03, 2006

Ethics Daily has an excellent column today by Martin Accad, academic dean at Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut, Lebanon, about attacks on Islam by some Christians in America. Here are a couple highlights from Accad's piece:

The problem is, this is neither Christian nor human. Worse, it is like the fight of an over-sized giant setting out to war against a quixotic enemy. Suddenly our giant is going to wake up, exhausted and knocked out by its fight against a gigantic windmill, its enemy, the product of its own imagination.

... Have you become so blinded by the terrible events of 9/11 that you have reverted to a pre-Christian "hate your enemy" ideology? Have you cut out from them the teaching of Jesus? Is your Bible left only with the books of Joshua and Revelation?

... I think as a Church today, we must repent and convert back to Christianity!
Some powerful words to think about there! But the most insightful comments come as he writes about the impact of Jerry Vine's infamous statement at the 2002 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors Conference that Muhammad was "a demon-possessed pedophile." Accad explains:

But do those who make such statements have any idea of the impact that this statement had on us, Arab Christians, living in the Middle-Eastern Arab context?

Do they even realize that following that statement, our seminary, for three years, was not allowed to admit any students from outside Lebanon because, as a Baptist seminary, we were associated with the Baptist church in America?

I want them to know that they prevented approximately 100 students from all across the Middle East and North Africa from becoming church and community leaders that would have played a substantial role in transforming their societies. What did it cost them, on the other hand? Nothing!
If that does not make Christians stop and think before they speak then nothing will. The comment by Vines hindered the work of the Gospel. Sometimes the best thing one can do is keep one's mouth shut (and like, Accad suggests, spend some quiet time reading the teachings of Jesus).