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14 - How You Can Make an Impact in the Middle East

George Jackson Joel Moutray


Lebanon is a country Jesus Himself once visited, but today it is a site of desperate need. In this episode, Dr. George Jackson and two students from Middle East University share their experiences of teaching, learning and serving others in a corner of the world that is often misunderstood. 



  • June 29, 2019
    3:45 PM
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The Middle East is rich in culture and history specifically Lebannon is not only a beautiful country but Jesus himself spent time with their high. And you're listening to the learn and share podcast today I talk with Dr George Jackson with 2 of his students from the Middle East University in Lebanon who together share their experiences of not only living studying but also serving God in the Middle East. Thank you so much for being on the show works out for Dr Jackson and Consuela and that we have a special treat today because we're going to be talking about the Middle East and reaching other people helping the community but before we do that we talk about details of school in the mission work that you guys are doing over there Dr Jackson tell us a little about who you are what you do and some of things you've got going on over there on the right well good to be here thanks I'm actually the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Middle East university I 1st went to Lebanon probably 4 or 5 years ago I went on with a trip with students from California and it was a very life changing my life was was was different ever since working with refugees ministering to people it was very life changing experience I now in subsequent years I now live there and we've started a pre-med program at the University where students can come in English take a pre-med degree amongst other degrees that we offer they can also take and they can also get an Andrews degree so they can go back and enroll in a medical school in the U.S. So the unique thing about our situation is that students don't have to give up a year to do ministry they could come continue their education and get involved in a different ministry. Activities very right outside our campus for instance a man tells a little boy who are you're from what you're studying and what you're doing OK My name is Helen Bushra I'm from Egypt I study at Middle East University. Teaching diploma. And also I did I really love to be at Middle East university before I come I thought like no it's a say university as any other and I really want to finish my major and like you know get to war but then I discovered that there are many things good going on about our universities. Awesome and Consuela. There are many reasons why I love Middle East University one of them is that our teachers treat us like their own kids visit me anytime you want you can call your teachers the them how once you really need help with anything Also I love Middle East university because it's very mission minded they give you a lot of opportunities to go to other countries and discover new things so you know these are the few things what I like about Middle East University thank you so much for sharing now Dr Jackson want to you tell me real quick. There's a great need for helping other people helping people get to know God is is God something that's you know spoken of a lot over there is it easy is it hard and what are some of the things you guys are doing to to reach people forgotten for Jesus or are there yeah as we all know the whole Middle East region is a very challenging part of the world. I really don't think there's many people who really understand who the true God is so anything that we can do to let people see Jesus let people know who the real God is that he's a personal God that cares for them and has a plan for their life it's a wonderful opportunity especially people that are non-Christian right there is we've got a whole many different ethnic and religious groups there so we do well anything we can to to get to know people in to to make friendship to minister to their needs we we've been involved in health Expos we would have groups that go to different places in they do wall painting where they can mix with a community to do murals on on walls any even basic needs like with refugees we have a refugee Syrian refugee school the admin slowly in center there in Beirut we pass out were involved in distribution of food and clothing for Iraqi refugee. These And we've even visited poor Lebanese people in some of the crowded parts of the city and working with the local church just to even take them groceries in let them know that there's people that just care about them and it's very powerful I mean that's really nice that you are really doing True true witnessing and true sharing because you're doing a Christ method alone which is to help people and to show and to care because it's challenging to do traditional people you know as a Christians many times I think you have to preach you have to do the traditional kind of helping other people and you guys are able to to do it more in the practical way well yeah that's right we the needs are very great especially in the refugee population I mean they've lost everything so when you can show someone a little love in that you care about them it makes a huge impact on their life and but not only just the refugees there's people there's a lot of you can go to the grocery store and people just look tired people are hardworking sometimes people are struggling and they have and lot of people have lost hope so if you can let people know that there's there is hope there is a future this next generation of students are going to really make a difference it's about. Giving people hope in embassy Jesus and in a practical way and that's that's what we're Middle East is very community so if you can become part of that community and show that you really care about them it makes an impact on people and it changes your life as well now I want to ask you there. Are Consuela How do you see the things that are being done by the middle east University the reaching out the health clinics for the refugees how is that how because you guys are locals you're from Egypt and from from Lebanon hot How is this helping your local people. For example. While canvassing I've discovered that. Many people are discovering Jesus just through the books or through us talking to them. Just letting them know that we care about them and we really want to share something very beneficial with them Consuela you reach out to people and there are people that are receptive there are people who are not you said you'd also done some canvassing or selling books or kind of books to sell maybe what's an experience where you've seen people be blessed by reaching out that way there are some religious books and some health books. And I have one testimony the I can share it's very powerful to me there was a day I think it was a Friday so we don't work much on Fridays maybe like 23 hours and so it happened that all the gates of our buildings were open which was different than anything I'm and I know that my 2 of my friends were already canvassing in this building and there was time to go so we just told our leader OK Come on let's go and just finish it with them so and while we were and elevator I said OK I'll choose Fyfe I'll choose the 5th floor to canvass in because I rarely have one floor maybe to canvass and so I went to the 5th floor I knocked on the 1st door no one and then I knocked on the 2nd door they took a long time to open the door and then when I was going up to the 6th floor they opened the door and I started talking to her she was like No I don't want thank you anyways another guest from her house went out and she kept on saying get me and then the owner of the house closed the door of one of the guests is so outside and so I was like looking at her OK I just talked to her and I talked to her and I showed her all the books and then I came to the religious books I showed her and she said you know I've been waiting for someone like you this is. This is the 2nd week that I was praying for a book I really wanted a religious book like this and so she was so excited to see me and I was like I was signing her that this is really America because 1st of all the gate was open 2nd of all I just chose. Floor to go to. If I didn't go to the 5th floor my Both of my friends would not have talked to her because she would have just went home so I think it was America that's really really powerful I love hearing stories about what God set up for God does that now let me ask you how you're also do in addition to canvassing and many other ways of reaching out like Dr Jackson said. You also do health work you know half expose and clinics maybe how has that benefit the community is a great need for health work over there and people to come and help out yes sure I just want to work Dr Jackson just said the people are there in need even if you smile at them it will really help and it would make a big different. Actually it is even I. I mean I was participating I still participate with house explore and we do a lot of ministry there in there about our community community but what really really matters is. When we really talk to people when we smile when we give them like no hope that they can do well at home with them that some of them don't have money to go to a doctor to see doctors so by doing simple things to them it really help and also through the health expert we give them advice of how to have a good life and one of. Our station that we have it calls trust where we have our students said their lesson. To the stories they're hearing them saying what really affect how how how hard life is for some of them so it really helps how. Is our community to know more about us and also I heard that some of the committees that we had told to explore with ask us to come again and do it even if we every month which is like now I'm sure that it makes the big difference in their life thank you very much Dr Jackson maybe you comment a little bit on that but also I want to start talk about Middle East University and the impact that the school is in is really meeting and maybe just maybe even share some stories or testimonies about students or just the influence in general that the school is having a recent developments you've had working with local community etc and how you're making an impact yeah OK as Han was saying you know the health problems there's obesity and diabetes and smoking huge levels of smoking in the middle east lots of people smoke not just cigarettes but water pipes and so forth and there's people need to understand there's an ignorance on basic health for things for many people you know one of the things we did was we have a what's called a human health clinical class where within our pre-med we have a practical class where students are doing practical community things like health Expos one of the things we did in I know. Consulate Consuela was involved with that we've done several of them is a brief free to the stop smoking program so we went into borscht mood again a poor part of Beirut and ran with many with the union a a stop smoking program so all our pre-med students were involved with that going there multiple times the wonderful thing is that of course they speak Arabic so they can share stories and in speaking Arabic to the local people which I can't do yet and so that's a huge blessing and we've got to know the people we've got to support them and just help them in their day to day struggles that was a very powerful program that we ran the brief 3 and to help people get rid of that habit and then the health expert you know I can remember another story. With Rami one of our students they were at the nutrition booth and I'm talking about you know hummus and relent awls and whole grains in these are the things that you know are really healthy to eat in Rami turned to me and said well actually that's what they eat there they're poor people that's all they can afford so that was kind of a blessing in disguise that people were so poor all they could buy were lentils and garbanzo beans and eat the simple foods but by and large as many people that are struggling with diabetes all the Western things diabetes heart disease obesity and vegetarian cooking we've even started doing some of that and what surprises me is when we run these meetings people sit there and they really listen it's not they really pay attention they're really focused and I think it's very powerful to someone come comes to help with some education to help in a practical way I see the people really connecting with our students or whoever is speaking you can just see that you're connecting with the people that's awesome I know my brother is over there and he sent me pictures and it seems like a very warm welcoming culture and they like you said if you can connect with them if you. Show them love and care and let them know that there is hope not only for their physical lives but others of the spiritual lives they're receptive and that's always encouraging to hear tell me a little about Middle East university and you're the dean of the arts and sciences so in my in my faculty we have pre-med biology and we have computer science and graphic design but we also teach there's a business a faculty of business and education in theology and it's the one place where people can do a master's in Islamic studies so people that want to understand in terms ministering to the Islamic world we have a master's in that area the the biology program is new some 30 years ago they had biology so it's it's really things are really growing and the fact that we the students can get in and Andrew's degree which means they can go to the US in 10 to medical school is opening up doors for us but what we really wanted to do it's not just about education it's about taking this generation of young people and training them to go out and change the world in 2 of them right here with me that are doing that you know the older generation particularly in the country who are in in Lebannon there's a lot of people that lived through the war there's a lot of post-traumatic stress and they struggle with a lot of the difficulty they've been through and the racism and all of that that goes along with it and the hard feelings and the baggage but the young generation that's coming up now are the ones that I can see that can really make a difference that will really take things forward where the older generation hasn't been able to do that so I've got a lot of hope for mentoring in training these young people as Consuela said there were a lot of families a small university we have a lot of it's very international we probably have 40 countries represented in church on Sabbath so we have a lot of like students from G Y C Those sort of mission minded young people that are coming over from many different parts of the world that are stay. And so we have a mix of plus we have local non administrators coming in so our very campus is a center of influence for light for reaching the local population as well as our administrators that come from overseas and locally can you think of any examples one and Consuello are here but students who have been impacted by coming to an avenue university it's a life changing place I don't know what it is Beirut is just a busy noisy polluted city it's really but our campuses up on a hill in kind of a forested part of the hill and it's just such a wonderful Oasis and the students come there and I think maybe Consuelo could talk more about this I am not sure that adults connect with young people so much in the Middle East you know I'm there hanging out with the kids and they're part of my family and sometimes they just need somebody to listen to them or pray with them and I have in many instances a lot of students come from very difficult families very dysfunctional families or families where there's a lot of hurt where family members have died and they're just really difficult in so many I mean times we're acting like the parent so they'll be there and they're crying about something and so we can pray together and it's just so much more than academics it's really I'm just there to try to make a difference we give them the academic training that they need but it's it's changing their lives and it impacts me at the same time it's really hard you have to experience it to really to really see the power of that I mean as beautiful because that's what Jesus did he as a mentor and a teacher he didn't just teach his students the disciples once a week or a couple times a week he actually a slept walked talked with his disciples and that's what's beautiful about what you're doing with the students at Milly's University Let's talk a little bit about the influence that middle east university is having with the local community maybe the city and just how you're able to help the community at large there well you. No The statistics are just overwhelming so we live in manner which is about 550000000 people we have one university and there's about 3 and a half 1000 administrate maybe a 1000 local people that are Adventists out of 550000000 people 20 countries so Millis University is a training school for our church workers as well as I mentioned we have Village students that come in and that are non Adventist and so on that it's a light on a hill that shines over the city of Beirut but then those beams of light shined to many other countries from different parts of Mina you know we've trained the 1st of the pastors at different countries that have gone back now in now their past remain in different countries so it's a very important a training school it's very hard because we have so for so few advantages we don't have a supportive base so we had a lot of help from the G.C. and donors and so forth that helped with our programs the biology program for instance was greatly helped by Lebanese donors in the US to get this up in rolling both for salaries and for the building and so forth so you know God is blessing and. As our students go down the hill and work in the local community it's making a difference in people's lives you don't have to go very far through the gate to find a need there in Lebanon about even further afield in these other countries of Mina we need to train more people and if somebody wants to to work in many. Because the church is so small there's not lots of positions but a great way to do that is come as a student take your course get to live in the area people get to know who you are and then maybe you can get involved as the work continues to open up so really students who are who are learning and at the same time actively involved in ministry can then move on in transition to somewhere else in Mina So you think that somebody from the United States would be a great idea to come absolutely they could actually come and study it and get actively involved in ministry right outside the gates of our university OK. I know some people here it's it's hard I mean it's not safe to be in the Middle East but let me tell you it's nothing if it's really good to be there people are welcoming on Con. Welcoming us so it's not those you hear in the news that. Like you know you know if they've come because you know it's interesting you know talking to people that are over there you think that there's bombs going off and there's people shooting and shouting I hate Americans all the time but that's not necessarily true as really awesome and I like what you said Dr is a as a student you can you think of I need to give away a year of my life to go be a missionary you could be a missionary and get an education at the same time Yeah no absolutely and there is a place for students to go for a year and do something in and got as many ways but we offer a unique combination of education in mission field right at our doorstep in just what I'd like to add a sane. You know there is this mindset about the danger of the Middle East it's actually Lebanon is a very safe place the crime weight in Lebanon is less than many of our major cities probably and people it have this mindset and you you will find the most gracious people wonderful families wonderful people that are friendly and it really the the world has a misunderstanding about the safety in the Middle East I can speak for a living in Lebanon now for a number of years. It's a wonder I feel very safe there I've honestly a lot safer walking the streets of Lebanon in Houston here for instance it really is it really is a very safe place and I know that sounds unusual to people who have this mindset about the Middle East but when you're there in your working with the people in your living environment you realize wow this is kind of a this is a nice place of wonderful people here. One thing I would also like to mention that is just been quite amazing for me is that even in Lebanon where our university is located there's there's like wonderful historical sites that people can go to students can go to so we have big loss which is like the oldest inhabited city in the world just to the south is tire inside in and so wrapt air which is the ancient city of syrup half where Elijah went to this amazing places you can go Jesus came to Lebanon and it was a Lebanese woman that he ministered to so we actually have this awesome history that reaches right back to Bible times students can go around and see some of these biblically significant places in it brings the ancient world to life. It's its we have wonderful mountains in Lebanon I actually go snowboarding so it will take the students up in People say it snows in the middle east yeah we have mountains with snow so people probably really don't understand the beautiful place this is where the snow capped mountains the cedar trees in the mountains and all these little villages that you can find in the mountains of Lebanon with the gracious hospitable people it really is a unique place that people probably really misunderstand Consuela tell us a little bit about some of the other things that this school has been doing to reach out not only to Lebanon and the surrounding area but even much farther. I'm so grateful that throughout these 2 years we've been having some mission trips and our 1st one was to Nigeria it's my favorite so far and we had health Expos So there were doctors from America. Surgeons and I doctors and dentists in all of that and one day one of the directors asked if anyone is interested in going to the surgery department so of course I was very happy to say yes and when they're thinking that I will not be able to do anything because. At that point I wasn't even studying pre-med yet I was still in my freshman year so I went inside I saw many nurses and all the students who are already in the field and they were all assisting and helping and the nurses there told me OK we'll teach you how to clean some tools and so I went to hope and see and while I was going there was a doctor in one of the rooms who told me so who are you and what are you doing are you free now I said yeah I'm free he's OK I'll come as is me I need someone to help me right now are you sure I don't I don't know anything. He says OK It's OK I'll teach you during the surgery OK so I went and. I was very nervous and he started teaching me and then after maybe a day after that he left and I was worried that I won't be able to help again because he's not there. So but actually I the other surgeons also asked for me to help and so that was a very great opportunity for me and for even my friends and joined and saw how surgery happens and everything. So that was very exciting for me what is what is the lesson you learned from being able to help out because many people listening might be thinking you know like you said I'm not pre-med or I you know going on mission trips or even even short term trips you guys probably more than welcome people coming over to help even short term even if they can't stay for school what's the lesson you learned from that experience of helping out even though you didn't know everything. So many times we feel like we're not qualified enough to go to mission trips or to help but I'm so sure and through my experience I believe that anyone literally anyone can go and help also. Mission trips really change your life and their perspective you just see another point of view of life another way of thinking and you see how people are different and. It's just amazing how you can interact with anyone through mission I was thinking that we always think of mission trips as US going to help others but I really think that mission trips are actually helping ourselves and we really need to learn how to change our character and maybe one of the ways is through mission trips thank you very much maybe you have a story about how you're used to help somebody on a trip or or a Expo or something. OK let me just sister. Before I go to medalists University. The reason I went because it was the nearest place for my country which is Egypt so I said OK I will go there finish my major and then come back to Egypt work and but. I have one year to finish and I don't want to finish it I have I want to stay at Middle East because many thing I believe I would miss if I go back to Egypt and one of the one of them is the mission trips. I went. To Jordan and I participate with health Expos in Lebanon but. My main in Jordan and there and I discovered that I wake up every day not for myself I wake up every day to go and meet people students. Heavy hearted to have heard the people who really want to talk to see you and. While we were there I mean we we did house Expo food and one of the schools and the director of. Education came to us saying you know I never see it in my life that people go spend their holy days instead of resting and having fun go to another place just to serve to spend on the feed days day have between service to come and just spend time helping people his words really I mean made very change in my life since I have to like I had to think about it more and more like you know I did it without notice and like you know I did it was outrageously like you know thinking that I wake up just to help people and while I am there in Jordan I was there doing the Health Expo my station was sunshine where I was giving people. The time where they can go out. And spend time in enjoy the sun and get the vitamin they need and one of the people came saying like you know you know what I work from 10 to 5 for shoes they can know a dangerous time to be under the sun. Just to get money from my family you have I have any I mean he said that he doesn't have any other work to do I mean what he was saying that. He's been I mean he did he does not take care of 1st house because of his children because of the family so I had also to think about it like you know how people are facing her time and why I was listening to her I see that he was happy to know somebody would like not to see somebody who's just listening so. Like you know the mission trip I really love with and I plead mission trips are it's changed my life and they don't want to finish school so I I want to spend more time going through mission trips that's awesome you're studying pre-med correct give us a brief summary of why you feel called by God to to to do medicine so you can help other people so one reason I believe I realize that I want to be a doctor is because. I remember my mom being very sick at home and she didn't know what to do and I really wanted to help but I didn't know how to help. And so I see a lot of people in need and wanting help so I really feel called this area to work in this area also another reason is that I don't know if it's just in Lebanon but people don't just doctors because they say that. Doctors just scare about money and they trying to rob them and it's very expensive so I want to try to change this and maybe not maybe trying not to make it this expensive and trying to show them that we care about them we really care about their health and another dream that I have is to build a hospital in Middle Eastern Versteeg maybe one day so we can work there and people will know more about them you and then we can lead them to Christ they're. Wise about you have decided to give your life to God and get an education so you can help other people. I discovered the value of helping others I discovered how Jesus came to earth to serve us that are not for himself so it's a way to put this hour to see what Jesus has done so serving others you see the value in even if you don't play mean even the people did not appreciate you did not see the value you did in their lives but the still inside you will feel like you know I've done something good to them and even if they did not receive it here on earth I'm sure that God is seeing what ever there is a pertinent everywhere not only in Middle East yes and we talk about Middle East because I'm from there but to everybody who lessens there's always a part 20 don't ever think that you have nothing to do or like you know many people are taking care of it you have no I mean you have no there is no need for you but actually there is so helping others is a way to live as she says that. Dr Jackson a young person who's listening to this episode they're they're hearing the stories etc and they want it they want to live for other people they want to help others they want to be a missionary why should they consider the Middle East why should they consider the 1040 window you know it unless you've experienced it it's really hard to explain but it's such a life changing place to work in a place where it's so overwhelming in you're such a minority and yet the work needs to get done and we know it's humanly impossible so to go to that place and and I firmly believe that you experience it's almost like the power of God is more powerful in such a place because the need is so great and he doesn't have the workers so you go there and God uses you basically against all odds to build up His Kingdom is such a life changing it's a life changing experience now you're doing amazing things to help people maybe even with just their very basic needs as Jesus did healing them. Feeding them clothing them and when you do that it changes your life forever it changed my life when I 1st went to Lebanon all those years ago I've never been the same and in all I would appeal for someone I know and when I when I talk to young people I realize the Holy Spirit is in pressing you to do something and that's not going to go away it's only going to get stronger and people come and say look I want to go to the Middle East I want to and I said well you should really do that because God needs committed people he doesn't mean big numbers of people he needs people that are 100 percent committed and Jesus never said it was going to be easy in a lot of people worry about the danger Well you never said it wasn't going to be dangerous you just need to go if you're called so I would appeal to young people. That it will change your life for eternity to go to a place like the Middle East and work maybe you go for a year or maybe you go and you study. And whatever you can do to reach out where the need is so great where people don't know who the real God is and you can somehow demonstrate the love of Jesus with your hands or with your smile or with just helping people with their basic needs it's a powerful it's really really powerful and. I can't really think of anything more important to do one thing I do wonder is like how are we going to finish the work when I live in a place where the work is enormous and yet we want Jesus to come back there's a work to do so he needs willing workers to go into his army go to these difficult places and make a difference and change the world and they can young people today can make a difference in the world they can bring hope they can change the world and they can finish the work I'm getting older we need you've had 2 of our students here that are going to go out and continue to make a difference to change the world this is the generation that will make a difference and if we can get some of these kids to get that inspiration to come and help us walk in I'll do it together. Thank you. Thanks for listening don't forget the heads of Scriabin share this episode with your friends to learn more check us out at learn and share Pod Cast dot com.


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