How did the poet Robert Frost phrase it in his most famous poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”? “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” Frost’s line reminds us of the importance of showing how seriously we take our relationships by following through with the commitments we make to others.
Perhaps that’s why I have been a bit pained each time Elie Haddad from the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut, Lebanon has visited MBBC and found a way in his presentation to remind us that of all the seminary’s partners in the USA, MBBC is the only partner who has not sent a team to visit the seminary. Clearly, others in our church have experienced the same discomfort, which is why our Missions Committee took steps last fall to make plans to send a team to Beirut in the spring of 2019 to show our partners there how we value the good work they are doing for Christ in that most strategic place in the Middle East. The Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, you’ll remember, equips ministers of the Gospel for that part of the world and has graduates serving throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
So, this next week, a team from MBBC will go to Beirut to visit the seminary, tour some of their area ministries, and bring back a report on the impact of our partnership with this critical institution. Chervis and Martha Isom, Doral and Brenda Atkins, and I will be there for three days, a period of time that will give us ample opportunity to observe their work and interact with their faculty and student body.
Then, as a bonus, we will be traveling to nearby Amman, Jordan, where we will connect with another MBBC partner, Nabeeh and Ruba Abbassi, who lead the Arab Center for Consulting and Training Services, a faith-based organization that seeks to facilitate efforts that will enable the Arab community to live in peace and harmony, working towards their spiritual, psychological, and physical empowerment. The Abbassis have been in our church numerous times as well, and though MBBC has had a group visit with them in the past, the proximity to Lebanon makes a second visit to Amman doable.
My hope is that our team’s presence will assure both groups that we value our relationship with them and see them as strategic partners in living out Christ’s Great Commission. I have no doubt that we will be impressed and grateful to God for the many good things we will see and hear.
Pray for us as we journey to the Middle East from March 5-14. Pray for safe travel and safekeeping. Most of all, pray that we will be worthy ambassadors for Christ and strong sources of spiritual encouragement. My guess is that there will be sufficient internet connection for us to give you periodic updates on our trip through our church website. Upon our return we will certainly look forward to giving a more detailed report.
Yes, the miles are many between Birmingham and Beirut, but the promises of our partnership are most definitely worth keeping. Just as God kept His promise through Jesus, the Word that became flesh, so may our team’s presence incarnate our church’s devotion both to Christ and our brothers and sisters in these important places so that God may be glorified and the cause of Christ advanced even more.
“When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself, he must not break his word but must do everything he said” (Numbers 30:2).