Early in 2018, I had the privilege of teaching at our home in Colorado Springs, my course on Islam and the Geopolitics of the Middle East to seven leaders. My wife and I felt very privileged to be in the company of those men and women of God. One of those who took the course was Mateen Elass who was in my blog three months ago and another is Melanie Boudreau who wrote this blog and shared her evaluation of the course.
Melanie wrote Toppling the Idol of Ideal: Raising Children with Hidden Disabilities to encourage parents of children with neuro-psychiatric differences like autism, Tourette’s Syndrome and mental illness. Currently, Melanie is founding Relationship Restoration Strategies, a 501c3 which exists to increase quality of life for children with autism and their caregivers in nations or regions with little access to effective intervention. Meanwhile, Melanie also serves as a Team Director/Advisor for Apostolic Intercessors Network (http://www.ainconnect.com), a Christian business that links professional level intercessors with individuals, families, and workplace leaders around the globe.
Here is what Melanie thought of the course.
Today, March 4, 2018, we concluded a 40-hour course (plus 4 more optional hours) on “Islam and the Geopolitics of the Middle East" taught by Dr. Nabeel Jabbour in his home. I was privileged to study with world changers, men and women well seasoned by global ministry.
Nabeel teaches this class in seminaries, while making it available to a select few who will commit to every session and the pre-work necessary to glean the most from the teaching. He gave of his time in the most generous of ways. I’m left in awe over the value of the content as well as the connection I gained with him, his wife, and my classmates.
Because Nabeel is both an Arab and a Christian, as well as having earned his doctorate in Islamics, his perspective is an uncommon one. Even more unusual for a man of his stature academically and professionally, he is highly relational, and exceptionally humble. I note that because I believe it is his humility in concert with his wife Barbara’s prayers that disarms potential strife when addressing contentious topics like Christian Zionism and the Palestinian Israeli conflict. He is motivated to teach by authentic love both for the Muslim world and for his students. In spite of Western proclivity towards notorious stereotyping of people from the Middle East and Christian callousness to the plight of injustice when the sufferers are Muslim, Nabeel’s response to classic ignorance is compassionate purposeful education, rather than embracing offense.
Perhaps, twenty percent of Muslims are fanatics or fundamentalists and a very small fraction of one percent, are militants. And perhaps, another ten percent are moderate and open minded. That leaves seventy percent that Nabeel calls the Silent Majority. Which way will that silent majority lean, and what factors carry the potential to precipitate a shift in one direction or another? Poor navigation of this challenge in the past has all but pushed some who have become central figures in Islamic radicalization towards fundamentalism.
For example, Sayid Qutb, sentenced to death in Egypt in 1966, experienced a crisis of faith after spending time in the US, including in Greely, Colorado. Initially a non-practicing Muslim, he found materialism, rampant immorality, racism, and the Christian church missing out on the opportunity of sharing the gospel with international students. He longed for “a real conversation on the issues of man, philosophy, and the soul.” Is it any wonder he left America convinced that Islam with its laws and social codes offered the quintessential formula for creating a just and godly society? He returned to Egypt radicalized, and joined the Muslim Brotherhood. Although eventually imprisoned and executed, he authored the manifesto Milestones which continues to influence Muslims towards fundamentalism to this day. Does it occur to us when we meet a Muslim that positive relational connection and the sharing of our godly values could actually protect future generations?
The Western Christian church has spent the last twenty years praying into what some call the 10-40 Window, a geographical region with the least access to the gospel. Much of the Islamic world falls into this “window of opportunity”. Seemingly in answer to those prayers, Muslims have now come to us making the job of evangelization that much more assessable and less dangerous. To reach them, we must understand their world view, shed our presuppositions, formulate a non alienating response to how we perceive Mohammad, recognize the impact of different paradigms and have a way to gauge both risk and progress. I now feel equipped to unchain the gospel for those I might have been tempted to avoid in the past due to perceived resistance. I now know how to evaluate an individual's potential openness, how to avoid overt offense, and how to connect on the large amount of common ground that we share. Nabeel addressed issues in contextualization that gives me great confidence that I can offer more than a smile the next time I have the privilege of meeting another from an Islamic background.
As an intercessor I have learned more effective ways to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, while expanding my heart to include the prosperity of the Palestinians and the promotion of justice for all. Abraham was blessed to be a blessing to others.
With classes starting at eight in the morning and not ending until five each day we met, I could have never predicted how mentally, emotionally and even spiritually engaged I would be, hanging on every word taught. It has been a joy to step into a new world and emerge equipped to be a better friend, influencer and representative of the Most High.