Southeastern Trains Farsi-Speaking Christians for Diaspora Missions • Bible Recorder
Over the summer, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) held six seminars in Turkey and Germany for Farsi-speaking students as part of its Persian Leadership Development (PLD) program.
Although the modern refugee crisis in Europe and Central Asia is due to a confluence of wars, religious oppression and political instability, the suffering of millions of refugees has not thwarted God’s plan of redemption or the evangelical witness of the Church.
Living witnesses of God’s providence in suffering, many Farsi-speaking Christians took on the role of international missionaries when they fled or were displaced from their homes. Facing daily persecution in the Middle East or suffering hardship as refugees throughout Europe, many Farsi-speaking Christians breathe new life into European churches and mobilize believers of Muslim background for the ministry of the Great Commission.
As one of the fastest growing Christian populations in the world, Farsi-speaking Christians are uniquely positioned to lead a burgeoning missionary movement in Europe and the Middle East. Indeed, many Farsi-speaking Christians are already involved in revitalization efforts across Europe.
Bringing together PLD cohorts in Turkey and Germany, SEBTS administrators and teachers had the opportunity to encourage and equip more than 100 Farsi language students over the summer in six intensive seminars. These seminars offered students a unique opportunity for in-person biblical and theological education – an opportunity that would otherwise not be available in their home country.
“We had a wonderful opportunity to see our students face to face, encourage them and be blessed by them,” shared Kambiz Saghaey, Director of Persian Leadership Development. “We may be teaching them biblically and theologically, but we are also learning from them: how they live under persecution and suffer as refugees under various pressures. They are always eager to hear and study the word of God and are fresh and zealous to learn and serve wherever they are.
Modeling a passion for evangelism and missions, the students demonstrated their hearts to serve God wherever he placed them, even during the hustle and bustle of their seminars. Gathering at local hotels for seminars, PLD students intentionally shared the gospel with hotel staff and were able to practice their training in the context of daily evangelistic meetings.
Several of the summer seminars covered selected books of the Bible and highlighted theological themes particularly relevant to the students’ life, ministry, and experiences of suffering. By studying the book of Job and God’s presence in suffering, many students have been able to deal with questions about suffering arising from their lived experience and have been encouraged to endure by faith in God’s promises through the scriptures.
Additional seminars focused on other biblical books such as Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and Song of Songs, equipping students to study, interpret, teach, and embody the truths of God’s word amid persecution and persecution. daily suffering. Many students also attended a seminar called “Mentoring in the Church” – a course designed to equip students to lead and train newly converted disciples and seasoned believers toward greater faithfulness to God and His Great Commission. .
Highone of the PLD seminars organized by SEBTS in Germany, including members with their certificates. Bottomthe Song of Songs group pose with their certificates.
With a heart for theological education, these Farsi-speaking believers of Muslim background represent current and future generations of Persian ministry leaders who desire to see nations and their homelands reached with the gospel. Through the training they receive through Southeastern’s PLD program, these students are equipped to lead local mission movements in refugee camps and cities across Europe, as well as in house churches and communities. clandestine communities in their country of origin.
“Our students in the PLD program are already ministering around the world, serving as missionaries in their countries or as refugee missionaries in other countries,” Kambiz commented. “Through the program, we accompany these brothers and sisters in their ministry and we train them for the ministry they exercise.”
“In the Southeast, we are equipping students to graduate and go as missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission anywhere in the world,” Kambiz said. “However, through our PLD program, we are not just training students to become missionaries. They are already missionaries in a variety of cultures, revitalizing the evangelical influence of churches across Europe, Turkey and the Middle East.
As a strategic part of SEBTS’ Office of Global Theological Initiatives, the PLD program currently offers over 3,000 Farsi-speaking students the first-ever accredited Theological Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Farsi. To learn more about this program and other Southeastern initiatives or how you can support these efforts, visit sebts.edu/gti.
To learn more about missions in the Middle East and a variety of other contexts, see the book “14 Journeys: Engaging an Increasingly Pluralistic World with Christian Civility and Charity” by George Braswell. Distinguished professor emeritus of missions and world religions at Southeastern, Braswell was the first International Missionary Council missionary to Iran from 1969 to 1974. In “14 Journeys,” Braswell shares his insights and personal experiences in the mission field and the classroom to encourage the next generation of students and missionary leaders. All proceeds from the book directly support the PLD program, enabling Farsi-speaking students to live on mission in some of the world’s most hard-to-reach countries.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Chad Burchett is a staff writer for the SEBTS Communications Office.)