AMMAN, Jordan (BP)–A few decades ago it was not so unusual to talk about establishing Baptist schools and other ministries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. But interest dwindled as political tensions made life and work difficult in those regions, with the ever-encroaching fundamentalism now having created an almost impenetrable barrier in many of those countries.
When Southern Baptist missionaries Brian and Vicki Barlow began work at the Baptist school in Amman, Jordan, in 1997, there also were schools in Beirut, Lebanon; Ajloun, Jordan; and Nazareth, Israel.
For more than 30 years, however, Barlow said there had been no growth in vision for how educational institutions could be partners in evangelism and church planting in the region.
Now Barlow said he believes the time is right to begin a self-supporting Baptist school in Baghdad, Iraq, similar to the ones in Amman and Beirut.
“We are fully partnering with the Lebanese to make that dream a reality,” Barlow told the Florida Baptist Witness in an interview. “Partnering with likeminded persons and other international organizations, the [newly established] Baptist Union of Iraq is in the process of raising capital funding to build the school.”
The Baghdad Baptist School will become a “hub” for evangelical teachers and staff to gather and share ministry ideas, Barlow said. In addition, the school facilities will be open for use by all churches and for the children of the community.
Plans are for the school to be the center of an educational ministry center providing excellent academic instruction to its Muslim and Christian students, along with an after-school program of sports and social clubs. A community library will be open in the evenings to college and university students. The school also will host a community radio station to broadcast educational and Christian-related programming.
The projected cost for the school is $5.5 million in U.S. dollars, which will be used for purchasing land, building or renovating school buildings and a national education training center, furnishing and equipping the school and training center, and funding initial operating expenses. The school and training center will be designed to be self-supporting after the first year of operation.
For more information, contact the Amman Baptist School, Brian Barlow, P.O. Box 17033, Amman, Jordan 11195, (06) 551-6907, 551-6908 or e-mail [email protected] (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: IRAQI INTERCESSION.