'Transformed' in Lebanon

'Transformed' in Lebanon

David R Mayne, Tansform participant, Lead Pastor of Shoeburyness & Thorpe Baptist Church, UK - March 17, 2018

Having previously gathered in Vienna and Yerevan, last week saw eleven younger leaders from across the EBF gather in Beirut for the next session of the EBF Transform programme. Transform brings together young women and men from across all the regions of the EBF to learn and share together about various aspects of leadership.

The focus for our time in Beirut was ‘The Leader in Culture and Context’ and the excellent Arab Baptist Theological Seminary proved a great place to gather to explore this subject.

We began our days with reflections from the book of Daniel, and then together we thought about sustainability, institutional culture and values, managing culture in an organisation, Jesus and religion, and continuity and discontinuity in Pauline discipleship. We also head about the ‘Khebz wa Meleh’ project that brings together teenage Christians and Muslims to eat together and dialogue about things of faith. Throughout the sessions we were consistently struck with the depth of expertise of those who came to speak with us, and also prompted to think about how this all relates to our own leadership roles.

For many of us it was our first time in Lebanon, and we were all very humbled by the welcome we received from our hosts and by their generous hospitality. There was plenty of time to eat and share stories, including a trip north to share a meal with the Baptist church in Kfarhabou. We also enjoyed our evening tour of downtown Beirut and a trip to the ancient city of Byblos; there is much to see and do in Lebanon! All of us were moved to hear and see how the Baptist community in Lebanon is at the forefront of many ministries of compassion, particularly among Syrian refugees, not least because the refugees began to arrive merely six years after the Syrian occupation of Lebanon had ended. Amidst great adversity and with a painful history, disciples of Christ are reaching out and sharing God’s love.

As with all of our Transform meetings, as well as learning from other leaders and tutors, much learning takes place as we listen to one another. Our different experiences across our respective Unions and Conventions consistently provide us with many insights. Whether it is from the world of German architecture, Armenian education, or even the Brazilian military (the EBF horizons grow ever wider!), there is always something to learn. We learnt from our friends in Beirut, and we learnt together; about leadership, and about Christ.

In one of our sessions Elie Haddad (ABTS President) said to us, ‘The cost of changing is much less than the cost of not changing’, and what is true of institutions is also true of those of us on Transform. We are being changed, transformed even, and it is a privilege to be part of this programme. We’re not sure exactly how God will call us to use our different leadership gifts and skills in the future, but we do know that whatever God calls us to do we’ll be far better placed to do it with wisdom and humility because of our time on Transform, and specifically our time in Lebanon.